Monday, May 19, 2008


From the top of the crag you could see the dragon on whose back Edinburgh is situated. The castle is resting on its head, formidably built on an outcropping of jagged volcanic rock. The parliament building and the Queen's Scottish residence is nestled at the base of its tail. Along the spine runs the main road, The Royal Mile, off of which shoot little narrow pedestrian roads called "closes" which act as the ribs of the beast.

After descending off Arthur's Seat we began our ascent up with spine with a quick stop by the Scottish Parliament. Had I not been told that the modern, eclectic building I was passing was the new Scottish Parliament Building, I would not have known what is was. The irregular angles and modern shapes, the jutting corners and strange pieces, the seemingly patchwork of a building. Nothing about it speaks "Strength, Unity, Order, Freedom, or Justice" to me. It is more MOMA than HofREP however, upon traversing inside I found that I am much more partial to the architecture than I was initially.

We watched a bit of banter in the debating chamber before walking the halls and doing some snooping about the gift shop. It was interesting listening to the representatives and even more interesting to think about the possible implications of this while sitting in the chamber where the eventual outcome will be determined. Every person I talked to that day was a Scottish Nationalist and was all for a succession.

While walking down the Royal Mile earlier that day we saw a fudge shoppe boasting free tastings. Tempting. Very tempting indeed. So we moseyed back up to the fudge shoppe where the workers wore green suits and little green bowler hats. Amazing. (As was the fudge). We asked for directions to the best "chippy" in town and they pointed us up a block and around the corner to City Restaurant, a local favorite.

The men in green suits didn't lead us astray one bit and soon we were all squared away with tummies full of fish and chips and a plate of haggis staring us in the face. Earlier that day I stumbled upon a haggis recipe in cookbook from a gift shop. I wished I hadn't when it was a reality on my plate. I seriously had to muscle up some mind power to muster a bite. To my pleasant surprise it tasted loads better than it looked and the only real problem I had with it was the strange filmy, thick, greasy texture that coated every surface of my mouth as it rolled around waiting to be wolfed down my throat. As we were finishing up our meal a young couple slid into the booth behind us and soon my ears perked up when I heard them use the word "Americans." Soon enough the guy whipped around and abruptly asked, "Are you Americans?" We told him we were and proceeded to have a pleasant conversation.

His name is Steven, 20, and he was out on a date with his girlfriend (who didn't seemed to thrilled by the fact that her boyfriend was having a better time chatting away with 6 American strangers than with her). He was eager to tell us all about Scotland and was sure to warn the only boy at our table to avoid eye contact with anyone on the street because he could get knifed. Easy. We had been warned by a professor before we headed out that Scotland was at a record high for crime (especially knifing) but it wasn't until Steven told us he's had 10 friends stabbed to death in the last 6 years that I realized just how serious it was. He gave us a few must-see sights and got and email address so we could keep in touch (weird) and then we were on our way once again roaming up the spine of the dragon.

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