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Monsters, Fairies and Cannibals

by Alejandro Alba

I found my self in a village of cannibals. I walked through the erie streets fearing that someone would abduct me, take me to an isolated building and cut off all my limbs.

Of course, I had nothing to worry about because my tour guide said the last case of cannibalism was in 2004.

A decade should make me feel safe. image

 

A weekend trip to Edinburgh is the perfect getaway from the big city. Unlike previous weekend trips where everything felt rushed and I was overwhelmed with attractions (aka Paris), Edinburgh was the perfect amount of things to see and do in just three days.

The weekend activities began with a nice Italian meal. I know, I should have had some haggis on the first day, but I didn’t want to suffer from an upset stomach right away. After our Italian meal we went to a whiskey bar and had our first tasting of Scottish whiskey. I’m somewhat a fan of whiskey. I didn’t find it too strong or bitter, but quite pleasant. What I did find a bit odd were the descriptions of the different whiskeys on the menu: “toothpaste and green apple skins on nose, quite waxy.” I had to pass on that one because the only thing I want to taste like toothpaste is my toothpaste. There was another that was described as “like Christmas,” yet also “Heathery” and “leather.” Last time I checked Christmas tastes more like gingerbread, cinnamon and apple spice.

Neither option appealed to me so I asked the bartender for the bar’s favorite and he gave me one that was citrusy with a smokey finish. It wasn’t bad at all

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After our whiskey, we went on a night tour around the city where we learned about all the tales and legends of Edinburgh. I was stoked when I heard we would be visiting graveyards since I love anything scary/haunted/terror. Unfortunately, the group I was in was over 30 and so many people took away from the frightening experience. Either way, the tour guide was great and he told us all about the supernatural of Edinburgh: witches, monsters, evil fairies, and most importantly, cannibalsimage

 

In Scotland, I was bound to hear bagpipes, but never did I think that I would see a little boy blowing his lungs out, alongside his brother playing the drums, making some money. That same day I also saw a more experienced piper out on the streets. He was wearing a traditional kilt and playing the well-known song “Amazing Grace.”imageimage

 

Edinburgh Castle is incredibly old and strategically located, and it dominates the view of the city. Sitting on the plug of an ancient, extinct volcano, the castle was excellent for withstanding enemies during war time. There was even a rumor that Hitler did not want to bomb Edinburgh because he wanted the castle to be his headquarters. It was fascinating looking at the luxurious decorations inside the castle. From weapons to armor, to royal jewels and historical books, the whole tour was amazing.

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Every tour we went on consisted of at least ten tales of people being cannibals or people being executed in public. The picture below is the stage upon which people were lynched. It’s very interesting to stand near it and imagine how hundreds of years ago, hanging people was a spectacle which many people attended. Along the side of the execution stage there are several quotes, one saying when the last execution took place.

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Haggis

A trip to Scotland would not be complete if I didn’t have their special cuisine, haggis. Many are disgusted that it comes from a sheep’s stomach. Basically haggis is the Scottish version of the hot dog: a mixture of everything. With haggis you are certain that it is sheep, and all  it’s intestines, mixed with minced herbs and spices, cooked in the stomach.

The dish was delicious, regardless. To me it tasted like meet loaf. It actually looked like meat loaf served on top of mashed potatoes and covered with gravy. I’d say it’s a dish everyone must at least try once.  image

 

Greyfriars Bobby

Ah, the loyal dog that never left his owner’s grave, for 14 years! Greyfriars Bobby was a skye terrier that belonged to John Gray, who worked for the City Police as a night watch guard. When he died, his dog never left his grave and finally died 14 years later on January 14, 1872. The story of this dog is well-known and prominent to Edinburgh’s tourism. He even has his own pub and life-size statue.

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The Heart of Midlothian

The heart that everyone spits on, the Heart of Midlothian. It is also known as the dirtiest place in Edinburgh, hence the spitting. It used to serve as doorway to public executions and a nearby prison. People would often spit on the heart to show their disdain. People still spit on the heart, but they do it for different reasons. It is now said to bring good luck. Some people even spit on it when there are sport games taking place to show their support for a certain team and bring the team good or bad luck.image

 

Arthur’s Seat

Arthur’s Seat, or how we call it, “Arty’s Throne,” was such a fun adventure. We had to hike 813 feet, which was not a problem, but we weren’t dressed for the occasion. The weather was also not in our favor since it was raining and windy. We still hiked up the hill, managed to survive all the rough paths with our inappropriate footwear, and take some pictures up at the top. Going back down was way easier, and faster. To celebrate our successful trek, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream at 40˚F. imageimage

I almost fell down Arty’s Throne, too. (Love you, Mom!)

 

Camera Obscura

According to Trip Advisor, we were right in front of the number one attraction in all Scotland and the number two best attraction in the whole UK. I have no idea who decided this, and if it is legit, under what standards. I’m certain that an optical illusion mirror is not the best attraction. Definitely not when you have Arthur’s Seat a mile away and the Edinburgh Castle a few meters away. Such nonsense, but I had to take a picture and laugh about it.

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After a long visit to the castle, we had to take shelter from the cold and rainy weather. The best place we could have picked was the Elephant House Café, best known for the place where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two books of the Harry Potter series. image

The café was small, but that didn’t stop it from being a great place to have a hot chocolate—one of the best I have ever had, actually. The hot chocolate was filled with jumbo marshmallows, topped with the creamiest whipped cream and then sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.image

 

I would definitely go back to Edinburgh, but I would love to explore a different area of Scotland as well. The highlands would be the next area to visit: filled with history and beautiful, scenic views. image

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