What do you get when you combine hip hop and Italian food?

As I sit here with hair dye leaking its way into my brain, I figured now would be a good time to tell ya’ll about my trip up north.  Not to the North Pole, unfortunately, but Edinburgh, Scotland does have a magical quality to it.  So let’s see what I can come up within the 25 minutes Garnier has allocated me for this homework break…

Jenn and I went to coffee awhile back and realized: we’d been in the UK for 2 months, and hadn’t taken any overnight trips yet!  Gasp!  So we opened a map and plopped a finger down to give us a destination, and came up with Edinburgh.  Ok…full disclosure-that is not exactly how we decided.  But it sounds really good, doesn’t it??  We decided on an adorable little Bed and Breakfast (I was absolutely fine with this, as breakfast was free…hence the “breakfast” part of the title), and booked our tickets for the Friday after Thanksgiving.  So on Black Friday, we loaded up on the train, I whipped out some homework and we traveled 5 hours north.

For those of you who know me, I tend to have anxiety about not having some sort of plan on my escapades.  This time around, you will be proud to know, was completely “fly by the seat of my pants”, and it was wonderful.  After we dropped our bags off at the B&B, we decided to waltz around New Town until our stomachs began to growl so loudly that people started to stare.  The architecture is amazing, with old churches intermingling themselves in between modern buildings and historic castles.  There aren’t many trees, but you are so taken in by the beauty of the old stone that you don’t even notice.  Everywhere you look you are faced with time-traveling beauty and a sense of safety as you gaze up the hill at the impressive fortress that sits atop.  After my jaw got sore from hanging open in amazement, we decided on a cute little Italian restaurant.  And it wasn’t until I was halfway through my pizza that I noticed…Jason Derulo and Lil Wayne had made more than one appearance on the playlist serenading us.  (Now, I realize that those two necessarily don’t fall in the same musical category…but now that it’s been a week, I’m having a hard time remembering the other random artists that came with our Italian meal.  ALL did not seem appropriate to my sausage and mushroom pizza though, I’ll tell ya that)

After we licked our plates clean, we decided we were pooped.  So, of course, we went back to the room and decided to intermingle homework and Netflix.  So, on a Friday night in a foreign country, I mixed episodes of “Prison Break” with reading on German chemical companies complicit in the Holocaust.  Random and boring?  Not really…if you don’t think about it…

The next morning, after we ate an amazingly delicious breakfast, we decided to occasion a castle.  So, we climbed to the top of the hill and introduced ourselves to Edinburgh Castle.  Which was amazing, btw.  The views of this breathtaking city, coupled with the amazing “still-rising sun” of 9:00 in the morning (seriously…so far north that the sun rises super late, and sets super early.  It’s a trip) were indescribable.  I keep taking photos of things, and then as soon as I get back to my computer, I’m always so disappointed that I wasn’t able to capture the amazing sights like I saw them in person.  So I apologize that I am not doing Edinburgh justice in description or photo.  Even though I never really claimed that I would.  So, scratch that apology…I’m not sorry at all.  (I am though…so you should book a ticket and go see for yourselves; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!!)  After we got our castle on, we decided to devote a little time to the Royal Mile (which is amazing, and old, and has incredible churches.  If you don’t know, I’m obsessed with old churches and spires.  Now you know, which will become even more obvious in the photos below.  Don’t say you weren’t warned).  So many adorable Scottish shops, restaurants, and cheerful vendors are scattered throughout this adorably ancient part of town, and we loved it so much that we couldn’t stray away.  Seriously though, we tried, and wound up circling back to it without even trying.  I strictly followed my Rick Steves’ advice, and did not consult a map the entire time we were there.  Jenn, of course, did an excellent job (sans this random bout).  We then stumbled onto Edinburgh University, and the National Museum of Scotland.  Which. Is. Amazing.  It’s like every genre of museum you could ever be interested in, in one building.  So after devoting some time there, we meandered to a local Starbucks (that’s right) and enjoyed a nice Christmas in a Cup.  Or as the lay people call it, Peppermint Hot Chocolate.  From there, we walked across the street to a Scottish trinket store, where I found the most chatty and friendly Scot of our trip.  Now, I don’t know if you know this…but weeeeeird and crazy people are interested in the Holocaust.  When I worked at the Museum in Dallas, I was absolutely shocked at the questions I was asked/amount of time I spent listening to all of the destinations that people had gone to.  (No, I do not have Benjamin Netanyahu’s private number, oh you went to Dachau?  And Auschwitz?  Oh tell me again about the museum in Washington D.C…I’ve never heard of that place before…)  OK, I got on a side tangent…bringin’ it back.  One of the first questions I’m always asked as I wander around the UK is, “Are you a student here?” because it’s MORE than obvious that I’m an American.  After I answer in the affirmative, the next question is, of course, “What are you studying?”  After I respond with, “Holocaust Studies”, I always get an earful.  And this was no exception.  But she was so adorable, and her accent was so cute, that I couldn’t cut her off.  Which was actually really good, and gave Jenn some time to do a little shopping.  After we talked about her trips to several concentration camps, we thanked her and made our way to a grocery store for some snackage before we wound back to our room.  For?  Homework and late night iPad TV.  (we’d walked about 11 miles, though, so we earned it)

The next day, after amazing breakfast #2, we decided to avoid the rain as much as possible, and hit up some incredible museums.  If you ever get a chance to go to the Scottish Portrait Gallery, I HIGHLY recommend it!!  It is one of the most impressive museums I have ever been inside.  After looking at William Wallace and Mary of Queen of Scots, they had an entire gallery dedicated to contemporary portraits…which you just don’t get to see these days.  I could go on all day about this museum, but since I’ve already rambled on enough, I will move on.  After we wrapped up our day, we decided to walk slowly back to the B and B…which is 1.25 miles away from the train station.  SOOO, we walked about 1.5 miles TO the B and B and then 1.25 miles BACK to the train station.  In the rain.  In less than a hour and a half with crazy amounts of luggage (for a 3 day venture, I probably packed 50 pounds of crap…when will I ever learn??).  We. were. sweatin’.  But we made it back on time to the train, only had minor delays due to recent flooding, and it was nice to be back home.  I also think that it’s so weird to call London “home”…but the label completely fits, and I’m always SO happy to come back to it.  (did you hear that, gods of my future??  I would like to stay here…”at home”…so if you could make that happen, I would love it)

Here are some photos of the journey, starting with literally the first thing that Jenn and I were introduced to: a Native American playing the Beatles on his recorder.  I could not make that up if I tried…

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