Tempting Fate

Hey y’all, this week wasn’t bursting at the brim with stories to tell, but the ones that did occur were quite brimming with detail nonetheless.  To be honest, I am much more excited for next week’s post, in which the final section should hopefully explain why.  For this week though, I delved deep into historic Edinburgh, wherein I saw and heard remnants of things long passed.  Also, I had some great nights out with my friends, including some fantastic company on Valentine’s Day.  Forgive me though, as this intro might be a bit short, for I must start packing for my first independent excursion!

Class Update

Since next week is the Festival of Creative Learning we do not have classes during that time.  Hence why most students choose to travel.  Though I will be away until Tuesday, some of the lectures caught my eye for the rest of that week.  I may attend a few that peak my interest.  My primary focus is still on my travels though, and as such I have been driven to complete much of my work so that I do not have to catch up upon my return.

Gaelic: I just had my first test this Wednesday.  I feel very good about it, albeit I know that I messed up on a few of the questions.  Here’s hoping they grade bits and pieces of the phrases and not the correctness of the whole.  Since these tests are graded on the classic 0-100 scale it is plausible that I could get a 90 or higher which would be very relieving to see.  My essay for this course is not due ’till March 13th, so I will not worry about it until after February break.  It is on the historical part of the course, not the language bit, so I am not sure how I will go about writing it.  I’ll figure it out …  eventually.  On a random note, I find myself constantly wanting to use Spanish phrases or terminology when writing in Gaelic.  This is interesting because there are next to no similarities between those two languages.  For some reason, I think my mind just wants to pick Spanish back up again.  After all, I did take three years of it in high school and got to be somewhat adept at the language.  Now that I can feel it bubbling back up again there is a drive to continue my education in that field.  Maybe I will take a refresher course when I return home since I need to fill credits.  Who knows?  In any event, my Gaelic is slowly getting better, and before long I should be able to hold simple conversations.  Hopefully before this is all said and done I will travel to the Ghàidhealtachd to actually utilize some of my vocabulary with a native speaker.

IPDA:  I have submitted my short assignment and am waiting for the returned grade.  Since the main research paper is due April 6th I am putting it on the back burner right now and coasting through my lectures and tutorials.  Learning SPSS seems fairly intuitive, and most of the material covered in the lectures are things that I already have a basic grasp of.  For now, I have more pressing matters, and while I still go and pay attention to the lectures this course requires no significant commitment from me until roughly early-mid March.

Poli Thinkers:  Though it is due on the 27th of February, I nonetheless busted out my essay on Locke and feel very satisfied with the initial draft.  If any of you wanted to proofread it for me or are just interested in my work I would be happy to post it or send it to you.  Seeing as I want to focus on traveling I felt it necessary to get the process over with so I am not stressing about it upon my return to Edinburgh.  I will let it sit in my head and tweak it/format it properly when I am back, but for now I can claim to be finished.  Quite literally, all the work I have left to do for this course is the final exam, of which the schedules are released March 6th.  In short, my productivity has put me in a fantastic position for the second half of the semester.

The Royal Experience

This past Saturday the API crew had an excursion planned to go to Holyrood House, the residence for the British royal family during their stays in Scotland.  Our assigned time to be there was 10:30, and since the palace is on the far end of the Royal Mile we had to, begrudgingly, get up early in the morning to make it to the destination on time.  To make everything more difficult it just so happened that the winds coming off of the Atlantic decided to rear their heads up in spades this particular weekend, so many of us had to walk backwards to resist the 30-40 mph gusts that battered us silly on the way to the place in question.  Add in a dash of rain and 30 degree weather, and we became a sorry batch of people right quick.

Luckily, the tour of the palace was primarily indoors.  While we did not get a personal tour, we were provided audio guides for our visit.  It was unfortunate to learn that we could not take pictures inside (security purposes), but we were able to photograph the gardens and outside facade.

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The outer courtyard
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Up close with the outer courtyard fountain
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The crest above the main entrance to the palace.

Once inside, we casually walked about the place, observing extremely detailed architecture and massive tapestries that seemed to don every wall.  We learned histories of events that took place within the palace, including stories of Mary, Queen of Scots, Royal pomp and circumstance, and events that included the current Queen.  To be honest, I expected a bit more elegance to the interior, as many of the rooms with historical significance seemed to be but ordinary rooms, albeit filled with old paintings, tapestries, and furnishings.  Even the private quarters of the old Kings and Queens seemed a little lacking.  That was, of course, until we reached Holyrood Abbey.

The collapsed ceiling gave way to Gothic ruins straight out of the Witcher or Brother’s Grimm.  All around me ancient columns rose high; some still standing, and some in ruin.  The pebblestone center reminded us visitors that long before modern architecture many places were built right into the ground.  Moreover, the various ancient plaques of old tombs, each inscribed with the name of an old Earl or Duke of some kind made you wonder what it is one must do to be buried in such a place.  Seeing as it was attached directly to the palace itself, I wondered who might have stood where I was now standing:  What was once said here?  Whose footsteps am I following?  Could this ruin be restored someday?  While my questions are rhetorical, they nonetheless are inspired by feelings of a genuine connection that I have felt and continue to feel to the past while I spend my time here.  Echos of years long gone still seem to resonate in every ruin, crypt, and monument that I seem to pass by, this one included.  By far, this was my favorite part of the visit, as true history is not found in a historical dinner plate, but in the veil of regions that for one reason or another have been left to the forces of nature to reclaim.

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Though it lay in ruin, it still had a story to tell.

Outside the Abbey lay the gardens, which in February were rather, well, dead.  Nothing much to say other than it was a nice stroll around the back of the palace.  I’m sorry but unless I am on the guest list of the parties that the Queen throws here I just am not that interested.

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I really need to figure out how to get things in focus while moving.
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I don’t know whether or not to be curious or weirded out.
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Outside the Abbey
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Arthur’s Seat lies near the palace.  ‘Course the Royals get the best view.

Once I came around the palace, I had some time to kill until I had to meet up with the API crew, so I grabbed a hot chocolate and a pastry and waited inside the cafe until it was time for our next adventure.  The original plan was to hike Calton Hill since the Stirling students were in town, but the weather was still proper shite so we decided to do something else on a whim – visit the Wohl Museum of Pathology and Dentistry.

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Too much sugar … worth it.

I took a couple of video clips that I assembled and will post below.  Taking clips and making vlogs is fun to do, though staring into my camera feels a bit weird sometimes.  However, this bit is short, so you won’t have to look at my mug at all.

One final thought I had about Holyrood House is this:  It’s ridiculous.  The entire time I was touring the place the predominant thought that I had in my head was that the monarchs who have resided here did nothing to earn this way of life.  Hereditary assumption of power is complete bullshit if you ask me.  There is nothing about a bloodline that makes any one person more or less qualified to become a head of state.  Yes, I realize that the Royal family is now more ceremonial than actually powerful, and that one can be taught to rule in the right circumstances, but it is still crap.  The grandeur of the place was built with the tax dollars of the people for those who have done nothing but been born into the right situation.  At least in the States the White House is not the property of the President, but of the people, we just let him (or her) live there.  I could get into a whole philosophical discussion on the relativity between Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Polity to Dictatorship, Oligarchy, and Democracy, but this is not the blog for that type of discussion [though if any of you wish to hear my thoughts about this, please feel free to contact me].  My point is that claiming power due to birthright or through divine support simply doesn’t seem to have a place in contemporary society anymore, at least in my opinion.  Now, I’m not saying I have a personal vendetta against any Royals, I am just saying that a society governed by reason those in power have no right to profit upon the labor of the population just because of their position.

A Foray Into Pathology

Why is it that museums don’t let you take pictures?  Sorry folks, no visuals for this one.  Though, I am not sure you would want to see what I saw.  The Wohl Museum is located about a block from Central Campus, across from the Festival Theatre.  This museum is dedicated to old surgeon’s tools, dental tools, methods, and pathology.  Basically, there is a lot of actual human parts that have been dissected and have been placed in preservation jars … groovy.  Eyeballs, carcinogenic lungs, compound fractures, deformities, bullet wounds to faces, cancers, heavily scoliosed spines, fetal skeletons, artery flows, intestines … you name all the fucked up shit you (n)ever wanted to see and this place has it in spades.  Quite a different option than taking a stroll up Calton Hill.  Lawson, Allison, Sarah, Emily, and I all banded together for our journey though this bazaar of mankind, and promptly we realized how strange the world could turn within a few minutes.  Here we were, as people looking at bits and pieces of … other people.  While it does have a dark sense of intrigue, the place is better reserved for those more profoundly interested in the medical field.  So, at the end of our rope of comfort, we decided to leave and grab some lunch, and a drink, at a local pizza shop to calm our psyches.

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On a lighter note, we all were dumbfounded how they were growing healthy flowers in the courtyard of the museum.

Cameron Tries to Show Off, Pain Ensues

Despite the cold, the wind, and the rain, Saturday night is still Saturday night.  After playing some bottle cap poker with Lawson, Jack, and Nick, the same crew from the pathology museum went out on the town in hopes of finding a few good brews that would fill our stomachs and warm our bodies.  The bar we went to is a favorite little haunt of ours, and as we clamored about trying to find a seat we began to realize that the crowd that gathered was there for the start of a pub crawl.  We watched and listened as one of the tour guides climbed on top of the bar to announce the four detrimental rules to participating:

  1. Don’t be a dick
  2. Don’t get/be sick
  3. Don’t fuck on the crawl
  4. Don’t masturbate on the crawl (apparently this is a reoccurring issue)

Pretty simple rules to follow if you ask me.  Since pub crawls are very cheap for the amount of drinks you get I can only imagine that I will find myself on one at some point in the semester (see next story).  But, that night my crew and I were not there for the crawl, and as the last of the tour cleared out we ended up seeing that we had essentially the entire bar to ourselves.  Hell yeah.

Upon seeing that “wild shots” were only £1, the six of us (now with Emily’s friend Ruby) went to work.  Wild shots gave way to Jagerbombs, which gave way to pints, and before we knew it we had a nice little assortment of glasses on our bar table.

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From my snap story.

Yes, that time stamp is correct.  It was only 9:30.  There was still plenty of night left on offer, and none of us felt pleasantly buzzed yet (remember, all those glasses were for six people).  At about 10, we decided to go and get entry stamps for this Brazilian bar and club called Boteco, as entry was not free past 11.  Seeing that Boteco was not yet hopping, we decided to return later and head to this bar called Pilgrim instead.

Pilgrim was awesome.  The place was spacious, clean, and had cheap-ish drinks.  We posted up on a table, and continued our descent into hopeful intoxication.  While Lawson became the best customer of the Jagerbomb waitress, I went for a Pilgrim Lager, an incredibly smooth beer brewed in-house.  Emily was also nice enough to buy us some nachos, which really hit the spot as 11 rolled around.  The pub crawl also happened to catch up to us here, and again we were surrounded by a sea of young people looking for cheap drinks or a potential pull (slang for mate) for the evening.  Luckily, none of them were drunk enough yet to give us any trouble, yet we still felt like it was time to leave.  So we finished our drinks and made our way back to Boteco.

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Goon squad
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Posing like champs

If you all haven’t read the Mash House story yet, I highly recommend you do (last week’s blog).  In it, I describe how much I love Latin music.  Little to my knowledge there was a bar and club that exclusively played this style!  Enter Boteco Do Brasil, a Brazilian nightclub that has live music and a colorful favela feel to it, where anyone willing to shake their hips enough can melt into a sea of euphoria.  As we returned, we immediately headed downstairs to the dancefloor, which had filled up substantially since our last visit an hour or two beforehand.  We dropped off our coats, downed some tequila shots, and hit the floor.  For the time being, the population of the club was at a very pleasant state, and we found that under the bright lights and fake smoke that we had plenty of room to move around in.  This was crucial to the amount of fun we had as we highly enjoyed being able to move our shoulders and hips with freedom to songs like “Bailando”(Enrique Iglesias) , “Chantaje” (Shakira) and “Sofia” (Alvaro Soler) (All Spanish versions of course).

Words cannot describe the amount of elation passing through my body.  The same can be said for everyone else around me, and the club pounded with the hearts and passions of people, young and old, cutting loose and having fun.  Luckily, and unlike the Mash House, this place had plenty of fans to ensure that the temperature stayed pleasant and none of us sweated our asses off too much.  11 turned to 12, and 12 turned to 1.  At this point, we had been out for five hours, and had sobered up from dancing.  We were beat.  Emily and Ruby had already left, and slowly we realized it was our turn to follow suit.  The night had been an awesome experience of good company, drinks, and music, but for us it had come to an end.  At least we thought so.

Here is where the title of this story comes into play.  About two blocks from home we came across some scaffolding which we had to cross under.  “Lawson, Cameron, why don’t you guys try to pull up on one of those bars and show us your parkour skills?” suggested Allison or Sarah.  Without hesitating, we obliged.  While Lawson successfully completed his, I did as well, though I tried to pull my legs up to the floorboards.  The resulting momentum of me swinging back and forward again while simultaneously letting go left me off balance upon my landing, sending me falling forward and sideways into one of the scaffold support columns.

Pain exploded into my lower side, as it felt like I just took a home run swing from a metal baseball bat right to the oblique.  Had I hit two inches lower I would have smashed my hip; two inches higher and I would have blunt trauma in my right kidney; four inches higher and I probably would have a couple cracked ribs.  Thankfully, my lucky ass took it right in the muscle.  Still, the pain was great enough to make me nauseous.  After a moment of gritting my teeth on the ground, I managed to scrape myself up off the pavement and start to walk again, slowly moving my lower body parts around to feel for anything unusual aside from the general pain.  Everything seemed to be in place, but I knew that I was in for a world of hurt in the coming days.  My friends knew it too, and for the block or so back to HC they made sure that I wasn’t about to collapse from internal lacerations or some other affliction like that.

This incident occurred at roughly 1:30 a.m. of the 12th of February and I am currently writing this story at 9:36 p.m. of the same day.  [EDIT:  The picture below is from four days after the incident.  It looks worse than it actually feels]  So far the bruising is minimal, but the soreness and tenderness of the area is the bigger factor.  Luckily my range of motion is not limited, as I was able to go out and do some shopping on Prince’s Street today.  I also have been utilizing the fact that we do not have hot water in the evening hours, taking an ice cold shower in hopes of reducing the swelling.  Moreover, I grabbed some ice rub at the local pharmacy, as I think my injury constitutes the “muscle trauma” it is designed to treat.  Treatment aside, it is still going to take some considerable time to heal fully, but luckily I don’t think it will inhibit me from doing my day to day activities.  Also, I have not taken any painkillers yet, as I felt it best to monitor my body in its true state last night in case something was actually wrong.  Pain is meant to act as an alert mechanism after all.  Though it sucks it is also detrimental to us as a diagnostic tool.  Thus, I decided to grit and bear it.  Now that I am fairly confident that it is just a bad muscle bruise I will probably take some ibuprofen tonight to help me sleep.  On the whole, the whole situation is unfortunate, but I learned that urban freestyle is best reserved for those who have a better sense of balance.  Will I do stupid things in the future still?  Probably.  But at least I know to be more careful around scaffolding.  Considering that the city is filled with it right now, it’s more than likely a good understanding to have.  In the end, I’ll end up being ok, but it is a bummer nonetheless.

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4 days after the incident.  (Thursday)

Valentine’s Day

As I mentioned last week, Jes and I decided to go out on Valentine’s day to this South African restaurant, Shebeen.  Since we were only able to get reservations at 8:45, we decided to do something fun beforehand.  The night ended up being divided into three distinct parts, so I will separate them as such.

The Most “Romantic” Ghost Tour

Yup, that was my plan.  What better way to start off Valentine’s Day than by going on a tour entitled “The Ghost and Torture Tour”?  Romantic walks? Too cliché.  You know what? Fuck convention, this tour was fantastic and we had a wonderful time on it.

Run by Auld Reekie Tours, Jes, myself, and twelve or so others gathered outside the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile where our tour guide, Anna, greeted us.  For the life of me I could not make out what accent she had, but if I had to guess it was either Danish or Scandinavian.  Regardless, she told us that our tour would take us on a little trip around the Royal Mile for some history and then to the Auld Reekie office where we would have access to their torture exhibit and then the South Bridge vaults.  Honestly, regardless of where we went I was just happy to be holding Jes’s hand (oh you romantic you).  

The tour up and around the Royal Mile wasn’t particularly anything special, and Anna filled us in on some of the history of the place and pointed out some notable points, such as the Heart of Midlothian and the graveyard that is now the St. Giles Cathedral carpark.  I did learn some neat little shortcuts through some closes though.  The main attraction, however, lay not on the mile, but inside the South Street bridge.

Once we reached the Auld Reekie offices we had to show our tickets.  Up to this point I had wondered if I was going to have to, as I would have been somewhat upset if we had just snuck onto the tour when I paid for tickets beforehand.  From there we went up into a little apartment, where in one room they had the torture exhibit.  Nothing screams romance like hearing about bridles, iron boots, and testicle cleavers.  Needless to say this was not the highlight of the evening, however informative it may have been.  Thankfully Jes and I had dinner much later, as seeing this stuff on a full stomach would make anyone uneasy.  The most amusing part of the exhibit was when Anna asked for some volunteers and a little boy and girl, brother and sister, stepped up.  “Does this mean I get to injure her?” the boy asked.  His comic relief definitely helped ease some of the tension in the room, and for that, I am grateful.  You do you, kid.

Finally, we were at the main event: the South Bridge vaults.  As a small history lesson, the vaults are not actually in the ground, but above it, as they run the length of South Bridge.  While you can only cross under the bridge on Cowgate, it is surrounded my buildings that block the majority of it from view.  Thus, it actually runs about a half mile long, even though it is only visible in a few parts.

As we stepped into the vaults, you could automatically feel the air shift.  It was still, and wet, and dark.  However, the only time it was silent was when you heard the local pub changing from one song to another, as it is located beneath the vaults.  I was in awe, and Anna explained the reality of where we were.

There is no one in these vaults but us right now.  We are not a tour that has people hiding in the corners.  Real life events occurred in this place.  Murders, thievery, and people burning alive all took place in these vaults.  Wickens also made this their residence, and left us a present that still affects many to this day.  In short, DO NOT wander off.  DO NOT mess with the group.  DO scream.  Everything you are about to see and hear is absolutely real, so be prepared for the possibility of experiencing something you may not think was ever possible.”

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Sorry for the resolution, but this was the corridor to the vault section we were in.
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The rooms were cold, wet, and dark.
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This is the true lighting.  Aside from candles and emergency floodlights … pitch black.
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Look to the left of the archway … is that a light anomaly?
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All of these photos came out with bad resolution… maybe something was in the way.

We went into three vaults.  The first was empty, and Anna explained how some people took refuge here from the police as homelessness was outlawed back in the day.  But, sometimes it was more dangerous in the vaults than out.  This was because murderers and gamblers also took refuge here, and if you were not careful you risked death, or worse.  The third was the location where many people burned alive in the great Edinburgh fire.  Perhaps the most haunted room, Anna explained that many people who stood on the right hand side sometimes felt their ankles being grabbed or other feelings of presence.  I stood on the right hand side.  In this room, I felt nothing.  The second room, though, was where the action happened.

Before we stepped in Anna offered us another warning:

In this room lies a Wicken stone circle, used to keep some sort of energy contained (we think).  You may step into it, but I would not recommend that you do.  Many people have, and there are countless stories that we have received describing one incident or another happening to a person after they had passed through.  Personally, I never will walk through, but I won’t say that you can’t.”

I can back up her claim in that Tara, Savannah, and Ellie from API have all told me their experience of the room.  Ellie felt extremely sick and off in the room, as did Savannah.  Tara supposedly walked through and broke out with eczema soon after.  Upon entering the room for myself, no major feelings hit me, but minute after minute my stomach began to tighten, and I myself was beginning to feel a bit nauseous.  Then the time came and Anna asked if anyone wanted to walk in.  The place went quiet.  For a solid ten seconds no one said or moved … until I stepped forward.  No, I wasn’t trying to show off.  I had to see for myself if I could feel something otherworldly.  I put one foot over the circle and held it in the air for a moment, contemplating if I should set it down.  “Who knows what could happen?”, I thought to myself.  One way to find out.  I walked to the center of the circle, and closed my eyes.

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Not sure why I was expecting a pentagram.
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Everyone watched and waited to see what would happen to me.

The room held their breath as they looked upon me, waiting for some indication that I had been possessed or was feeling off.  I tried to feel the energy of the circle, of which I felt none.  Nothing jumped into me.  No visions of demons.  Nothing but a tingle that slowly moved up my right hand.  Then the temperature dropped ever so slightly, and my hand felt the change as well.  I pointed this out to Anna, who had a look of legitimate curiosity and wonder on her face.  Some others hopped into the circle with me, and I decided that nothing further was going to happen, so I exited the circle.  I know not if I am now cursed, but I damn sure rubbed the nose of Greyfriar’s Bobby on my way home just to be safe.

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Entering the vault
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This guy has my back

The tour came to an end, and it was time to leave the vaults.  Jes and I stayed back for a second to look into a creepy looking alcove, and were the last to leave.  That is when it hit me.  Just as we reached the exit a massive wave of cold punched right through my body.  It was not the draft from outside as the night was relatively mild.  No, this was a sudden and substantial drop in body temp.  I wanted to stay and investigate, but Anna insisted that we had to leave.  I will probably go back at some point as they have a 10 pm tour for 18+ year olds, which sounds awesome.  I have to try to reach out more.  I need to see something for myself.  But, for this night, it was time to go.  So, Jes and I went our separate ways to get ready for dinner, and I made extra careful to watch traffic coming home lest I actually was cursed.

The Ghost Adventures crew did an investigation here!  They went to a few of the locations that I have been to, including Greyfriar’s Kirk.  Definitely worth watching because I have personally been to these places.  Below is the link to the show:

A Taste of South Africa

As I mentioned, we had some time between our ghost tour and our dinner reservation, so we used it to return to our dorms and quickly change up for dinner.  Along the way this is where I stopped at Greyfriar’s Bobby … no curse was going to ruin this night!  Though, I did have to rush back, quickly change, and head back out, as HC was across town.

When I got back to Jes’ place, we surprised each other with some Valentine’s gifts.  I got her a rose and some chocolate (I went all out for this holiday) and she got me an ice pack for my side (which was much needed and I am very appreciative!).  From her place, it was a five minute walk to Shebeen, the South African Steakhouse.  Upon entering, we saw this sign, and realized we were in for a treat.

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Welkom to Meat Heaven

The atmosphere was incredible.  Music from Africa played through the speakers and the wall decor gave the small space an intimate tribal feel.  Moreover, the menus were made out of some sort of hardwood, a neat little touch to add to the vibe of the place.

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Excitement level rising

For starters, we decided to split a Souttert and Chakalaka, which was some sort of vegetable keish.  The flavors were incredible.  The spiciness of the accompanying sauce and the keish itself was fantastic, and it was a great way to start our meal.  Paired with our glasses of wine (She had an Ondine Shiraz, I had a Fish Hoek Malbec, both of the Western Cape of South Africa) we eagerly awaited our steaks.

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Souttert and Chakalaka

Both Jes and I ordered the “cheetah” sized steak, cooked medium rare.  What we got were two gorgeous pieces of steak.  The outside was perfectly charred and colored, and the inside reflected a deep purple of quality meat.  In retrospect, I think we both got rare steaks, but the tenderness and flavor that exploded out of them made it worthwhile nonetheless.  Absolutely exquisite.

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*quietly salivates*
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I have been the luckiest man in Scotland!

Even better than the taste was the fact that we were both able to finish our steaks and still have room for dessert.  I let Jes decide, and she picked the Amarula Malva Pudding, a toffee-like cake that was savory and sweet.  It was heavy as well, and we struggled to finish the last few bites after eating such a big entree.  But, we powered through, and finished off one of the most memorable meals that I have ever had.

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YUUUUUUUM

At this point, it was roughly 10:30, and we decided that it was time to head out and find Allison, Sarah, and Lawson, who were on a pub crawl.

Crawling Along

To get to the others, Jes and I had to go through Grassmarket, which has a particularly good view of the Castle at night.

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This city continues to amaze me.

Our search led us to Revolution bar, just next to Greyfriar’s Bobby, wherein we found our friends, who were sufficiently buzzed.  After they finished asking about dinner, the pub crawl guides called for the group to head out as they were heading to the next bar, where the following speech occurred:

Crawl Guy in Kilt:  “ALRIGHT!  Everyone shut the fuck up!  *looks at Sarah*  ESPECIALLY YOU, GLASSES!  *We laugh hysterically*  SO HERE’S THE PLAN, at the next pub we have a challenge for you all.  What we are going to do … is go into the bar … and each one of you is going to … in one form or another … with manners … take off your underwear!  THEN!  Then … we are going to find a bridge, AND WE’RE GOING TO THROW OUR UNDERWEAR OFF OF IT!  *swigs beer*  I LOVE MY JOB!”

This is all completely true.  Pub crawl guys rock.  While I think they may have been jesting, it was still a riot.  Moreover, they had no problem with Jes and I cutting into the crawl.  I even managed to snag a free shot at the next bar on the crawl, Pilgrim.

I like Pilgrim.  While it was only the second time that I have been in the place I was nonetheless impressed by the amount of space the place had.  Moreover, garnering access to the bar is extremely easy, and there are plenty of tables for a squad to post up on.  Here, the five of us chatted, and grabbed some more drinks.  While Lawson went for the Kraken, I went for tequila.  I do not recall what the girls had.  In any event, it was nice to meet up with them and witness the show that buzzed friends provide.  However, it was a little past midnight, and Jes and I were not remotely buzzed enough to keep up with the crawl (they had three more stops after Pilgrim).  So, when it was time for the crawl to move on Jes and I took our leave of our friends, who, as you might have guessed, called out childish things to us upon our departure.

The walk back was pleasant, and I will admit I was sad when I had to leave Jes’ company.  After all, I have never had a more wonderful date night in my 20 years of living.  In fact, between the ghosts, the food, and the company, I don’t think I will forget this one for the rest of my life.  Thank you Jes for an incredible evening.  Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Back to Westeros

Allison, Sarah, and Lawson all wanted to go to the Game of Thrones bar on Thursday evening… so who am I to refuse an invite?  After all, I did know the way.  While the place was a bit more crowded than when Jes and I went we nonetheless had a relatively good time getting out drinks.  While the others went for the wine tour, I went for the spiced wine that they were out of when I last visited.  It tasted like hot spiced cider with laced with grapes and alcohol.  Hell yeah.  I also grabbed a lemon cake and a glass of mead.  When in Westeros…

Westerosi Shenanigans

Sarah and Allison weren’t feeling some of the wines, so I happily downed them.  They criticized me for drinking wine like a shot, but hey, if it works it works.

We didn’t stay too awful long, as it was fairly crowded.  Once we all got our fair share of enjoyment out of the place we retreated back home.  This was also when I noticed that I was a little bit buzzed.  I guess drinking two mugs of mead and wine and finishing two more glasses, all in the span of fifteen minutes, would make me a touch tipsy.  It made the walk home more enjoyable though, and despite the fact that I was craving pizza it was nice to be in good company.

As it so happened, we passed under the scaffolding where I ate shit a few days before.  Needing to redeem myself.  I jumped and did a pull up in the exact same fashion that got me injured … I stuck the landing.  I guess the moral is that if at first your don’t succeed, try, try again.  For real though, the best way to move past something is to confront it straight on.  While it wasn’t that I was hung up on my injury, I felt like I needed to prove something to myself.  My body is under nobody else’s control but my own, and by doing what I failed in doing before I felt a rush of control come back into my body.  I can do anything I want to, however honorable or ridiculous it may be, and that alone is something that will help me sleep at night.

Arabian Revelations

The more I read from Lawrence, the more I begin to understand just how disparate some cultures are from my own.  Even in times not so long ago, the deserts of Arabia promoted primal feelings of rebellion and revolution that have had a lasting impact until today.  I will not claim to know the motivation of these people, or their prerogative, but it is nonetheless fascinating to glimpse into the past and witness a way of life so distant from my own.  Today’s passages are from chapter IV, where Lawrence describes the relationship between the young fighters of Turkey and Arabia:

The Young Turks in the confidence of their first success, were carried away by the logic of their principles, and as protest against Pan-Islam preached Ottoman brotherhood.  The gullible subject races – far more numerous than the Turks themselves – believed that they were called upon to co-operate in building a new East.  Rushing to the task (full of Herbert Spencer and Alexander Hamilton) they laid down platforms of sweeping ideas, and hailed the Turks as partners.  The Turks, terrified at the forces that they had let loose, drew the fires as suddenly as they had stoked them.  Turkey made Turkish for the Turks – Yeni-Turan – became the cry.  Lster on, this policy would turn them towards the rescue of their irredenti – the Turkish populations subject to Russia in Central Asia; but, first of all, they must purge their Empire of such irritating subject races as resisted the ruling stamp.  The Arabs, the largest alien component of Turkey, must first be dealt with.  Accordingly the Arab deputies were scattered, the Arab societies forbidden, and Arab notables proscribed.  Arabic manifestations and the Arabic language were suppressed by Enver Pasha more sternly than by Abdul Hamid before him.

However, the Arabs tasted freedom: they could not change their ideas as quickly as their conduct; and the stiffer spirits among them were not easily to be put down.  They read the Turkish papers, putting ‘Arab’ for ‘Turk’ in the patriotic exhortations.  Suppression charged them with unhealthy violence.  Deprived of constitutional outlets they became revolutionary.  The Arab societies went underground, and changed from literal clubs into conspiracies.  The Akhua, the Arab mother society, was publicly dissolved.  It was replaced in Mesopotamia by the dangerous Ahad, a very secret brotherhood, limited almost entirely to Arab officers in the Turkish Army, who swore to acquire the military knowledge of their masters, and turn it against them, in the service of the Arab people, when the moment of rebellion came.”  (p. 44)

The Road Ahead

Where do I go from here?  Next week is the Festival of Creative Learning, and I have all the time in the world to go, see, and do things that I feel like doing.  Staying in Edinburgh feels like simply the wrong decision, so how ’bout a few days out of the country?  After all, a bunch of the API crew have already headed out to Prague, Vienna, and Budapest, so why shouldn’t I follow in their footsteps?  Eh, it is still February though, and while it is still hovering between 40-50 degrees on any given day I feel like some warmth is needed.  While Eastern Europe sounds fascinating, I would rather head South, if but only for a few days.  Going with Lawson too would be a fun time, and it would be nice to have a travel buddy.  But the question still remains, where in the world am I going?

Tomorrow morning, I head to the airport and fly into a city overflowing with history and grandeur.  I checked the weather, and it looks to be nothing but 60 and sunny for the two day/three night trip.  The hostel looks wonderful, and lies within incredibly close distances to the train station and all the sights that I want to see.  Moreover, Allison and Sarah just so happen to be in the same city on Sunday, so Lawson and I will have to meet up with them for lunch or something.  My camera is charged, as is my wifi hotspot.  My clothes I am currently washing, and in short order my bag will get packed.  Je. Suis. Prest.

To be honest, I never would have imagined that my road would have taken me to this city, nonetheless Edinburgh.  I have dreamt of going there ever since I was in elementary school, learning of all the great kings and leaders that have made this place their home.  Hopefully some of what they saw will be passed on to me as I continue down my path.  I will not deny that now that I have gotten a taste of the world I want to see the rest of what it has to offer.  In no particular order I now want to travel to South Africa, Mozambique, New Zealand, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Denmark, Iceland, Portugal, Ghana, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and a plethora of other nations.  In due time, my road may cut through to these places.  For now, though, there is one place on the horizon.  One place where I can immerse myself in thousands of years of history, and where I can make my own mark.

My road leads to Rome.

2 thoughts on “Tempting Fate

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