Friday, January 13, 2006

December 30th (a.k.a. the Loss of the Magster)

The next morning I awoke slightly later than the other two and we headed down to borrow the internet so I could call Liesl before we headed to Edinburgh. We decided we couldn’t just run away from rainy Inverness without looking around. It was a nice city, the largest one we’d visited since Glasgow, and after some discussion we parked and looked for a shop to buy jumpers (sweaters) in. Stephanie found a cable knit wool sweater in a traditional Scottish store. It was strange because it the store looked like a Holden-Reid in Lansing, but with kilts instead of suits; it was a little funny. They didn’t have the jumper I wanted there, but they did have Scotland patches for my backpack, so I made a £2 purchase and Steph bought her jumper and we headed back into the rain.

“It’s good Scottish weather,” I stated matter of factly with a horribly think scottish accent.

“t’s barely rainin’,” said Steph or Kara… I can’t recall which, but we all laughed.

We found another couple of little shops and eventually I discovered a jumper sale; a whole wall of 2 for 1! I was excited and about ½ hour later I walked out with two Scottish jumpers. Kara found one in the same store, and our jobs being done we went to a Pastry Shoppe across the street and then back to the car to eat our goodies before leaving for Loch Ness.
After a short drive we came upon the ancient home of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. No sightings by us that grey and foggy day, but we did stop for some pictures of the Loch itself. It was very cool and mysterious. I liked it, and learned from Wikipedia via Kara’s LiveJournal that you could submerge the entirety of the BT Tower in Loch Ness (and that thing is huge! I was impressed. We drove about halfway down the loch until we arrived at Urquhart Castle on the edge of murky Loch Ness. We didn’t have the £ to actually go in the castle, which was too bad because it would have been really cool, but we had to get Maggie back to Enterprise in Edinburgh and it was a long drive, so after we took a few pictures we headed back up the Loch and then to Edinburgh.

* * * *

Our first views of Edinburgh came from the airport, where we said our goodbyes to Maggie. It was a sad moment, but we had to move on. We left her and got on a bus. I knew she’d be jealous, but the bus meant nothing, I swear to you, I didn’t even know it. I was just using it… it was a rebound… I feel horrible…

Anyway, we took a bus into the Town Centre and I joked with Kara about getting a return ticket, she gave me a dirty look (those of you that remember the Stansted Express fiasco, see: Boxing Day entry). Arriving in downtown Edinburgh we had a short walk to the hotel to check in and call Liesl, Kara and I played it cloak & dagger outside and across the street as Steph checked in and texted us the room number. We entered non-chalantly and 5 minutes apart, Kara entering first. My first impressions were that I’d walked into one of the more minimalist art pieces at the Tate Modern… I was a little creeped out… I headed to the 4th floor in the lift, and the door opened to an open white room with black doors opening into the rooms. Down a side hallway that was painted yellow there was a sign that read, ‘Penthouse’ and opposite it was another hallway lit only by a tight grouping of four, wall-mounted, fuchsia fluorescent bulbs. It was by far the oddest hotel I’d ever been in. The cloak & dagger was because we’d told them only two people in the room, and thus had only gotten a king bed, that the three of us shared. Yes, I got middle… *break for noises of jealousy* Okay, back to the narrative.

I found out that day that Liesl, an ex-visitor to Fort Mackinac, and a current resident of Boston, visiting Scotland for Hogmanay, was leaving for London for a flight in the wee hours of the 1st of January, 2006! I was upset, we were supposed to actually hang out over Hogmanay, but he job was being dumb, so instead we hung out from dinner that night until her friend Nick and I put her in a cab at 5am. We met in a square in front of Usher Hall, she was with her friend Nick (another guy she’d randomly met while travelling who happened to live in Edinburgh) and we headed to a pub to meet Steph and Kara. It was dark by now (so like 4pm) and I wasn’t hungry yet so I just had a Tenants. Nick was wearing a kilt and was a really cool kid from Seattle living and studying abroad in Scotland.
After we’d had a jar we headed to a party of one of Nick’s friends where we remained talking, drinking Strongbow out of little plastic cups, eating snacks, and meeting new people from all over the UK studying in Scotland. It was a really cool party. Liesl and I caught up from the last 6 months and we were soon all chatting away, jovially listening to the Keiser Chiefs (they roxor). After an undisclosed number of little cups of cider I moved on to some concoction in a bowl that I am sure had a strong hard liquor in it, and tasted like it for the first glass. After that I couldn’t tell anyway. Steph and Kara left around 1am and around 3am Liesl and I left and walked the streets of Edinburgh talking and enjoying the views and the cobblestone streets. Eventually we headed back and Nick met us downstairs and we went walking again in the direction of Nick’s housing so Liesl could get her bags. His dorm was clean, but the rooms were very small… not unlike everything in Europe.

Finally, with a kiss goodbye and a final wave the cab pulled away and Nick gave me directions back to my hotel. I set off at a fast pace after our goodbyes. We said we’d call, we knew we wouldn’t, we only talked because she’d been there. He was cool, but noticeably younger than me, not just in looks but in deeds and attitudes. I headed home and crawled into bed between Kara and Steph to sleep for a few hours before we had to get up for our tour of Edinburgh

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