The internet at this hostel is atrocious thus far, if I am able to connect for long enough I will try to do a post highlighting my trip to Berlin and initial adventures. No promises though, so far I can only connect to the Wi-Fi by using Linux and being persistent, and since Roboform doesn’t work on Linux, well, no Roboform = No Internet for me basically. The post will be tomorrow if it happens.
And so my final day in Scotland began earlier than any of the others and I woke up to sunshine. The plan for the day was pretty straightforward, get up around 6:15am, use the real shower one last time, then head to breakfast, then gather as a group to hike up to the summit of Arthur’s Seat. Things started off according to plan, I woke up around 6:15am, after yet another night of my roommate talking to himself endlessly, but in all honestly I still felt fairly rested. As mentioned the sun was out, which was a welcome change since we were going to be hiking. I turned on the TV to give me something to listen to while getting ready, and found some local channel advertising things and playing music. The song that came on was “Scotland the Brave” sang by John McDermott. (You can listen to it here if you are interested). That, needless to say, got me in the mood to enjoy my last day in the Scottish countryside. After getting ready we all headed to lobby, where we checked out as a group, which went smoother than expected. After that we headed to breakfast where I enjoyed my last bit of haggis as well as way too much of everything else, since I knew after this it was back to pasta, cereal, and sandwiches. With breakfast eaten and the luggage stored in the temporary area, we headed out. On the tiniest little whim I stuck my small umbrella into my pack pocket on the off chance that I ended up needing it, this turned out to be the best decision of the day for me, but not for my umbrella. The walk to the base of the hills in Holyrood Park is actually pretty short from our hotel, only about 10-15 minutes. The photo below is from the very base of the hills, notice how the sunshine is already disappearing fast.
From there we started walking up, and would continue walking up for about the next 45 minutes. However, about 5 minutes into that trek, it started pouring. No, this was not the drizzle of the past few days, this was the pouring of Tuesday. What happened at that point, is that about 25% of the group immediately turned around and went back to the hotel, they were the first to go back, but not the last. Looking at the pictures, its kind of interesting because you really can’t seem to tell that it is raining as hard as it was, so just take my word for it, it was really coming down. Rain aside, the views were quickly becoming awesome even after only about 10 minutes of walking.
Shortly after the above picture we got into the thicket alongside the side of hill, which meant the path was little more than a mud trail. It was in this thicket that my umbrella took on its first scars of the day, with the trees tearing two little holes into it. Truth be told I didn’t realize this until about 10 hours later when I was back in Copenhagen, there was enough rain that two little holes made little different. It was also about this time that people started to slip on the wet slopes, which probably sent another 10% or so of the group packing. Once we got out the of thicket, it started to become apparent how high we actually were based on where we started. It wasn’t obvious just because of the views, it was obvious because of the wind. Whereas before it had been pretty content, suddenly my umbrella began a cycle of inverting itself about every 5 minutes. But again, the views were pretty incredible and I was still better off than the majority who had been fooled by the sun into bringing no umbrella or rain coat.
After seeing the decent views from this point, a fair amount of people decided to head back, as the rest of the climb was essentially rocks. I thought about it, but me being me, turning around was never really an option. Despite the rain and wind we made it, though some people actually turned around right before the final rock climb to the summit, I have no idea why. Our professor didn’t make it to the top, I’m not really sure where she turned around during the hike, but by the end it was just students randomly wondering a long what we hoped were the right trails. The view at the top was absolutely amazing though, and it made me really want to come back and see the highlands (remember all of this is in the lowlands). That tiny little mound you can see in the distance is actually the gargantuan fortress of Edinburgh Castle.
After hanging around the top for awhile, my umbrella finally ate it. A big gust of wind came which consumed all the umbrellas in one fell swoop, which resulted in the distant laughter of some Scottish people on the slope below us. I didn’t technically lose many, as some people where actually carried away to magical land of Oz. I might as well have lost it, as it bend so hard the metal arms snapped out of place. End Game. Well, maybe not, I bent them back and was able to use it on the way down.. somewhat. However it doesn’t really open anymore, you just try to open it and it does nothing. It can be opened manually with some elbow grease, but this doesn’t do a whole lot of good if its raining on you. I tried to save myself stress by getting a tiny cheap umbrella for this trip, its not something I will ever do again.You can see a picture of it below, taken just now for Coroner’s Report purposes. Nothing how every single arm is broken, and how the handle is broken in the middle. Not pictured is the broken top.
But, umbrella carnage and being soaked (once again) aside, I made it to the top and back down with no real issues. I even met Molly and Molly, seen below:
Molly the people was out jogging, and saw umbrellas tumbling down the cliff and correctly assumed there were tourists afoot. Molly the dog was content peeing on everything. And yes, their names really were Molly and Molly, I talked to them for a bit since I was the first one down. After we all gathered back at the Hotel, the traditional period of complaining set in, which finally culminated in the Hotel having to give the girls five temporary rooms to change in. But everyone made it, and there were only a couple of very minor injuries in the process. About 30 minutes later the bus came and picked us up, my feelings were definitely mixed. On one hand I was ready to be done with DIS led activities and I was ready to not have a roommate anymore. On the other hand, I was quite sad to be leaving Scotland, as it was my favorite country in Europe so far. But, I still had a week of class left, so it was back to Copenhagen.
The plane ride back wasn’t quite as good as the plane ride over, which actually started in the airport as Norwegian had no self-check-in machines at the Edinburgh airport. This meant I had to wait in line for 30 minutes just to get my boarding pass since I had no bags to check. After that security was once again, fairly easy, and I was able to grab lunch with plenty of time to spare. Once on the plane I realized I was in a center seat, which seems to be where I always end up if I can’t pre-check-in. The person next to me did the classic leaning over into my personal space while sleeping, but they were a DIS student at least, so I had no qualms about continuously shoving them back over to the other side, oddly they never woke up during this, and I was concerned they were dead for a bit (they weren’t). Once back in Copenhagen, the Customs line was way long for some reason, but after getting through that I cleared out of the airport in what couldn’t have been anymore than 5 minutes. I even scooted onto the Metro with about 15 seconds to spare before it took of. This was good because it meant I was able to make the trek back to Tåsingegade alone. Turns out I made it back before anyone else on the entire floor from any of the classes, which gave me free access to the laundry which was exactly what I wanted. Later that night about 60 people were trying to use 4 machines, but I was chilling in my room.
And thus ended my amazing trip to Scotland. Not everything was perfect, mainly in regards to DIS and my travel companions, but the place was awesome. I have a desire to go back to Scotland that is already growing, and I enjoyed the country (and even the city, which is mega rare for me) there more than I have anyplace else thus far, though Norway comes in a fighting second in regards to scenery alone. And since you’re always supposed to go out with a bang, the final Scottish tidbit of the day will do just that.. well.. through descriptive elements at least.
The Scottish Tidbit of the Day: The One O’Clock Cannon
When I previously spoke of my trip to Edinburgh Castle, I purposefully left out one thing, because I felt like it deserved its own little blurb, and that missing detail was the One O’Clock Cannon. Each day (Except Sundays and Good Friday) at One O’clock precisely, a cannon on the lower battery of the castle fires a single shot. When this happens the locals will casually glance at their watches, then continue on with what they where doing. The tourists on the other hand (especially the Asians) will jump out of their skin. This gun is really, really loud. Not to mention, a cannon isn’t something you are used to hearing as part of the city sound-scape. So whats the deal? Why fire a gun at One O’Clock every day? Why not fire as Noon, which is a much more common time for acknowledgement? Well, the tradition started in 1861 as a time signal for ships docked in the harbor and in the nearby River of Forth. It also allowed the harbor master to make sure that everything was going according to schedule for the day, as the large time mechanisms in the castle were much more accurate than those available to the every citizen. The original gun was a huge cannon which took four men to load, and its be replaced multiple times, and the One O’Clock gun is now a specially modified (to be more loud) L118 Light Gun, which as been in use since 2001. So, ok, it was used to help ships with time schedules, and its now a ceremonial thing.. makes sense, but why one o’clock? Well, that’s actually pretty simple, the Scots are all about saving money whenever possible. So rather than fire the gun at noon, which would require 12 shots (as firing one shot for noon would just be improper), they decided to fire the gun at 1, which was the cheapest next best thing to noon. So there you have it, the story of the One O’Clock gun. I was never spooked by it, as I learned about it the first day, and we didn’t get there until after 1pm. I did however, get to enjoy seeing a lot of people jump, while the locals right next to them checked their watch as if nothing was strange at all. So if you go to Edinburgh, remember to brace for some noise around 1pm 😉