Last week was a good week to be gone because our hot water at the Centre had stopped working on Monday. I found out the hard way on Tuesday morning when I hopped in on the shower. Jessi (a friend of mine that I met on the trip) and I decided to brave the coldness and take a shower at 3:30 Wednesday morning. I was out before her, and when she turned off the shower, she said, "Whitney? That was SO not worth it!" I wholeheartedly agreed!
We left at four in the morning, so the first hour or so on the train was me sleeping, but eventually I talked to Jessi, and Jenny (another companion on our trip) most of the way there and looked at the English countryside. When we reached Edinburgh, all fifty of us trudged from the train station to our Hostel. Our hostel was really nice; brand new, and HOT water! Yay! We dropped off our stuff in our rooms and made our beds before we went on a "small" hike that Dr. Talbot had planned for us. This included walking up to the Royal Mile, then down in until we reached the new parliament building, and on to the Crags. We walked up the hill to Arthur's Seat, from which we could see all of Edinburgh. I never knew it was so big! It was beautiful and the sun came out and shown in the blue sky for us! The only time we saw it the whole trip! After walking down the mountain, we just walked along the Royal Mile and looked in at shops. We stopped in at a Christmas Shop because Jenny collects ornaments and we found out that the shopkeeper is LDS! It was really cool to just randomly meet someone all the way over here that is a member of the church!
I went to a pub for dinner and I ate HAGGIS! We asked the bartender if he actually liked Haggis, and he said that "if it's down properly, it's gorgeous!" We were all too scared to actually order it, but he brought out some for us to try and it wasn't that bad! That was quite exciting and my first pub experience. There wasn't much to do after dinner because everything closes at five in Edinburgh, unless you want to get drunk (which we didn't), so we headed back to the hostel. Besides, we were exhausted!
The next morning we went to Edinburgh Castle to see the changing of the guards which they were doing because it was the Church of Scotland's general assembly. It was really cool! Bagpipes (speaking of which there is this CD for sale in all the souvenir shops called the Red Hot Chilli Pipers--bagpipes playing popular rock songs, very entertaining) and Scottish soldiers in kilts (speaking of kilts some of the boys in our program bought some and wore them that night)! After the changing were went to the Tartan Mill and I found the Salmon tartan! It's called the Perthshire District, and unfortunately I was unable to buy some because they said they would have to order it, but you can look at it here: www.scotweb.co.uk/edinburgh/weaving. It's the red one.
We just spent the day wandering around Edinburgh again. We went into New Town to eat lunch at Jenner's and to go to the National Gallery, and then we headed back to Old Town and went to the writer's museum were we learned a lot about Robert Louis Stevenson. Did you know that he spent some time in Monterey CA, and that is wife is American? And on his birth certificate his middle name is LEWIS, but he changed it when he went to France to LOUIS. I bought Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while there since Stevenson is from Edinburgh. I ate sponge pudding, which isn't a pudding at all, but a cake, and then we headed back out on the town. The Scots are a lot friendlier than the English, but they still thought we were crazy! In fact, they probably thought we were drunk, we were singing songs and prancing down the streets. Funny thing about Edinburgh, it never gets dark! It was 9:30 at night and it was still REALLY light out. They said that in the northern part of the country is really does stay light all night long during this part of the year.
The next morning we had to wake up early again to catch our train to York. Our hostel in York was established in the 50s and I don't think anything has been changed about it in the past 50 years. We put our bags away and then a small group of us went with one of our professors and his family to go on a walking tour. At first, we were all wondering what there was to do in York for two days, but the walking tour was so amazing that all doubts were taken from our minds! We walked along the old Roman walls and learned how the walls were built on by several different groups of people. Very cool. And it was a good way to get to know the city. Guy Fawkes was born in York...on my birthday too! After the tour we ate at a cute little tea room on Shambles. I think I'm going to come home a little heavier than I left--there is way too much yummy food! Especially chocolate!
In York I went to see the minster (which is the fifth church to be built on that site, and it took over 400 years to be built) during evensong, and to see the Scarlet Pimpernel at the Royal Theatre. I only paid 5 pounds and it was 5 pounds worth of entertainment, unfortunately. I also had my first real English breakfast! It was really good! And for lunch the second day I had a Cornish pasty. I can't believe that I hadn't ever had one before!
As fun as this trip was we were all excited to get back "home" to the Centre. I wanted to take a shower, but we learned that there wasn't any hot water yet! Oh no! So I had to take a shower in the professor's flats. A lot more happened, and if you want, e-mail Mom and Dad and they can send you pictures and a more detailed account.
Love you and miss you all!