Today featured exploration of Edinburgh Castle and a long ride back to England, but first I had to wake up. My cell phone’s alarm clock provides good incentive to get enough sleep: if I don’t, the alarm gives up before my sleeping does. That happened this morning, so I barely made it out of bed in time for checkout from the hostel. I definitely wasn’t the only one, and some people had it far worse than me: 2 new friends awoke, moaned, and announced “yeah, I’m still drunk!” That was good for me: laughing at their misfortune definitely woke me up. Guess they should have skipped the after and after-after and after-after-after hours clubs…
Edinburgh Castle was massive: built above a rocky cliff, it’s practically a small city overlooking Edinburgh. Some bitchy British lady decided that it wasn’t enough that her culture conquered Scotland; she had to go for taking charge of other tourists, too. Mike and I entered a room with 2 doors in it. Although there was a “private no access” sign in front of one door, another door to the side was arguably accessible. As we reached to try the handle, the Brit decided to treat us like the little kid she had with her: “you’re not allowed in there.” Mike asked her if she worked there; she didn’t. A little amazed that we were even having this argument, I explained that the sign probably meant the other, bigger door, but she was looking for a fight: “how’d you like it if you let visitors into your house, told them there was one room they couldn’t go into, and they entered it anyways?” She’d made a bad example, so I corrected her: “well, this is more like if I had charged someone admission to come into my house, told them that a certain room was available, and then decided to shut it.” She scowled and we started opening the unlocked (probably meaning Scotland wanted us to be able to open it, right?) door. “Shut that door right now or I’m getting security!” Not wanting to risk getting kicked out right after paying too much to get in and seeing the room was just some boring office, I told her to chill out, took her picture, laughed at her, and walked away.
I had to sneak it, but I took a picture of the Scottish crown jewels. Pretending to be a dumber tourist than I am helps: just give a look of confusion to the room’s attendants when they yell “no photography PLEASE!” and apologetically answer “oh, really? Sorry about that…” Right in the same case as the crown, scepter, and other priceless symbols of monarchical oppression was a big, ugly rock with a couple of pieces of rusty metal on it. After a dirty look for my asking what the deal with the Stone of Destiny is, an attendant explained that, by Celtic tradition, any new king must sit on the stone to have a proper coronation. Some English king stole it centuries ago, and it wasn’t returned to Scotland until like 1996! Being king of Scotland too and not needing rebellious kilt-wearing fellows, English kings put the ugly rock under their thrones during coronation. However, there’s some question as to whether the rock the English king stole that’s now on display is the real Stone of Destiny: some resentful Scots say that he stole the wrong one, that the real deal is hidden somewhere in Scotland. Scotland: proudly resenting English rule for hundreds of years.
Really depressing was the castle’s now defunct military prison. No, I wasn’t feeling heartbroken for the poor soldiers that had to stay there: it’s sad that these cells, last renovated around World War II, were competitive with my room! Prisoners had huge showerheads, probably even with water pressure, and everybody got their own bed. Prisoners had to put up with strictly regulated diets, so I guess I’ll stay in London instead of trying to rent a room in the prison for now. We stayed until 1:00 to see the appropriately titled 1 o’clock gun be shot to let everybody in the city and ships in port synchronize their watches; loud as hell is basically an accurate way to describe it.
Train ride home provided much-needed rest. In 4 days, I’ve seen tons of Scotland, had a great time, made lost of friends and, most importantly, swam with Nessie. A great weekend, but I feel like I need a weekend from my weekend. A sign that my tourism was sufficiently extreme?