Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Trip Back in Time


Edinburgh was the experience of lifetime. There's no other way to put it.

I've wanted to go to Scotland since I was a kid. My grandmother grew up there and questions me every Christmas about it, "When are you going to Scotland??"

I never had an answer until I chose to study abroad.

The sight of the city is worth the trip alone. Going to Edinburgh is, literally, like going back 300 years in time. There are many cities like this round Europe, each with their own pizzazz (add that to the "dope words" list), and Edinburgh is no different. The Edinburgh Castle, The Royale Mile, and St. Mary's close are just some of the great, admittedly touristy, options.

The Castle is right out of a fairytale. It's actually like it's own little city once you're inside, that's how big it is. There were some cool exhibits inside, like the War Memorial and War Museum, but most of it was trumped by the views around the edges of the Castle itself. Placed on top of the entire city, you can see miles in almost every direction. The New Town, the Old Town, the ocean...all of it is visible and spectacular. Walking thru the prisons and old towers is an eerie yet refreshingly new feeling. Only 150 years ago this Castle was active with people shuffling around.

When I explore places like this, going off the beaten path is something I always want to do. Why the hell can't I go past the roped off areas? The ones that lead to the bowels of the Castle where there are probably even cooler sights - sights that not many have been able to see, ever. I'd give anything to go check out the "real" Castle, the parts you can't see because of preservation or some shit...give me a break. I don't bite, I promise, I just want to explore more! That being said, there is nothing to complain about, the Castle is still a wonder with what is available. Without a doubt the most beautiful one I've ever been to, and I've been to many in Germany.

for Connor Murray
"Cemetery for Solider Dogs"...badass

Exploring was great, but going out into the city with friends was just as fun. The Scots are interesting people. The accent is thick, the kilts are distinguished, and the scotch is culture. I actually forget about Scotch Whiskey till we arrived. Personally, Scotch is far to harsh for me to drink. It's smokey, it burns, and it's well...unpleasant. But when in Rome (Edinburgh), do as the Romans (Scots) do...

Honestly, the Scots are more fun anyway. One wouldn't expect such an old, cultured city like this to have such a lively, young and vibrant nightlife. The first night saw the crew trying out some local bars and pubs very reminiscent of the ones I've found in Ireland. My personal favorite pub was called "The Worlds End", which took it's name from some interesting history. Apparently where this pub is located was the town line for the city years ago, and once you crossed it, the chances of coming back were not likely. Thus, "The Worlds End" is a fitting name. There was a local musician playing the night we went and he was KILLING it. Pink Floyd, The Strokes, The Stones, The Beatles, The Smiths (Jerry Collins, how are ya?)...I mean the guy didn't play a bad song and nailed every one. Definitely check this place out if you're ever there.

The second night we decided to check out the college scene there. The Scots...can drink... This is a reoccurring theme over in Europe that is unfortunately not the case in America. It is honestly strange going out into the "college" part of town when it looks like we're in 1850. The music, the vibes, it just doesn't sound like it would fit, but it does. To be straight up and direct, the night was late and fun...we'll leave it at that. (if you can't laugh, stay the f**k home)

On the final day we took a small hike to Calton Hill. This was again a place with a 360 degree view of the whole city. Unreal. After the hike, we went back to the Scottish Market where, personally, I saw one of the most unbelievable generous actions of mankind...

We went into the market to kill some time before our flight back, so we sat down at a long table and chatted. Eventually we noticed this homeless man making strange noises, not really being a bother, but more a nuisance to the market. He wasn't loud, he wasn't cursing, but he was certainly being "sketchy". A few minutes later, the owner of the market went up to him and told him to take a set and settle down. First off, it is outstanding that he didn't kick him out in the first place. I didn't think much of it - I went back to browsing the market. This guy had a really cool stand set up with punk albums from 1977. The collection was around 50 CD's, quite impressive. I finished chatting with the salesmen, who was from England and suggested some fun bars, and went back to the bench to kill some more time. All of a sudden, I noticed the owner go a grab a scone, one being sold to customers, and wander back towards the homeless man. He gave him the scone. Every one had left at this point so I was the only one to see this. I thought, "Wow, that is a real human being". But it wasn't over. The owner went back to his stand. I thought he was going to continue on with work so I stopped paying attention. Three minutes later I saw him walking towards the homeless man, again, this time with a hot cup of coffee. Now, I understand that this might seem like something every one should do, but that's not our reality. In today's society, we do NOT see generosity like this, especially towards the homeless. I could care less about the social experiments we all see online...the feeling that overcomes you when you physically witness an act such as this is overwhelming, to say the least. Obviously I didn't, but it's the kind of feeling that makes you want to cry happiness. And I wanted to so bad. It is hope that humanity still exists in this disgustingly cruel world.

I went up to the owner after. I felt compelled to. This man deserved recognition that I knew no one else would give him. I talked with him for about 10 minutes and I learned a lot about this homeless man. Apparently he comes into the market, which is by the way located in an old unused Church, and sits down to look at the stained glass portraits of Jesus, Saint Mary, etc... That day, he was just a little more out of whack, but it became clear to me that this owner knew this homeless man, but the homeless man did not know him. Mental problems? Likely... Does that mean he should be treated like an animal? No. Not at all. This Scotsman actually changed my life and I'm not just saying that. I was honestly speechless when talking to the owner.

He said to me, "Look up there, boy", pointing at Jesus in stained glass, "do you know who that is?"
I said, "Jesus".
He said, "That's right. And if he were standing here right now, what do you think he would've done?"

Awestruck. I'm not a religious person and believe that religion is the root to many of our world's problems today, but this man proved to me that religion still has the potential to do some real good. By no means will I become a religious person, but this man is an exceptional human being. As crazy as it sounds, with all the sights - the castle, the pubs, and the architecture - this was the highlight of my trip. For others, it might be different, but they did not see what I saw.

All in all, Scotland, you were great. Beauty, awe, friendship, fun, and gave it all to me. I cannot wait to go back someday. I can assure you that I will. All I can say is, thank you.

Next up we got Amsterdam, Brussels, and Budapest. Bring it on spring break.

see you again soon


(shoutout The Donation Foundation for all the dope benches around the city)

(also, Walker McCandrew has never heard of a shower beer. to say the least, i lost a little respect, but hey, still love you. Evidenced: this wondrous picture...)

stay tuned...

(soundtrack to this blog: The Slim Shady LP by Eminem)

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