Edinburgh

This past weekend I went up to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was one of the coolest cities I have ever been to. We stayed just outside the city centre and could pretty much walk wherever we wanted to go. The hills reminded me of San Francisco (and how much I hated walking up them). The architecture was absolutely stunning. I think I’ve only seen such beautifully gothic buildings on TV or in movies.

We went up to Edinburgh Castle, which gives you an amazing view of the city from all sides. It literally sits atop a stone cliff in the middle of the city and overlooks nearly everything. We also saw the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The art in the gallery was beautiful but I definitely preferred the National Museum. We also went to the Edinburgh Zoo, home to the famous Pandas Tian Tian and Yuang Guam who were transported there a few months ago from the Beijing Zoo. Apparently we saw them more active than they ever are. Even the keepers were surprised to see them doing so much.

The best (and worst) part of the 36  hours we were in Edinburgh was the Double Dead ghost tour we did at 10pm on Sunday night. We had a small group of 11 or 12 so everything seemed much more real and personal. Our guide was really funny and knew so much about the history it was fantastic. We were taken into the vaults of the underground city where poor folks were forced to live when the population grew to be too much. This was only 200 years ago! We then went to Greyfriars graveyard which is home to policemen, murderers and the famous Mackenzie Poltergeist. Back in the late 1600s George Mackenzie, working for King Charles II, violently tortured and killed covenanters (Scots who didn’t succomb to the Episcopal Church under the King). Most of these covenanters are buried at Greyfriars. When Mackenzie himself died, his tomb was also placed in Greyfriars ever so close to where those he tortured rest. It is said that the Mackenzie Poltergeist is known to attack visitors, leaving bruises, scratches, burns and occasionally knocking them completely unconscious. CREEPY!

Anyway – we were taken around the graveyard and told the story of ‘Bobby’ the terrier, the murderous graverobbers who would give bodies to the University anatomy department for cash, and of Mackenzie’s terrifying reign. After all this, we were to be taken and locked into the prison tomb where the poltergeist often shows up. Now – I felt some really negative vibes as soon as we stepped foot into the cemetery. Even through the ‘happier’ aka non-murderous stories I felt very concentrated sharp pains in my left calf and right achilles. As we moved from story to story (and from location to location) these pains intensified. I had a burning sensation on my hand prior to going into the graveyard that now had completely ceased to exist. By the time we stopped outside the gate to the prison yard my chest was so tight I could barely breathe. It was completely up to us whether we wanted to enter or not, as this was the last part of the tour. You can either enter with the guide, wait in the graveyard for them to return, or leave. I had a legitimate fear that I was going to feel a cold spot, get even more anxious than I already was, and end up huddled in a corner in the fetal position with my inhaler in hand. Because of this I kindly thanked the tour guide and said I was going to leave the tour at this point.

Instead of hopping in a cab like planned we decided to walk back to our hotel. It took us about 30 minutes and the whole time we were talking ourselves down until eventually we were back in the hotel with the doors locked, lights on, sleeping with one eye open.

Would I do it all again? Probably.

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