Saturday, January 14, 2006

Finally it's New Years Eve 2005!

I woke up at 1030 or so… the other two were already up. 5 hours of sleep was going to have to do me good I decided. A little after 11 we walked up the large hill and stairs to Edinburgh castle… By the way, Edinburgh (for those of you that don’t know nuthin’) is pronounced Edin-borough not Edin-burg. The caste was really cool, with great views of the city, the water, and the ridges of the mountains that all ringed the sides of the city; I reiterate: Scotland is amazing. We walked around the castle for a few hours, taking everything in, shooting some pictures, and even waiting in a very long line to see the Honours of Scotland (the crown jewels) that had been buried, hidden, nearly stolen, some taken (the stone of destiny) and even stashed away in a massive chest in the basement of the castle for hundreds of years. They were impressive, but definitely had seen better days.

We walked the town, and went over to the train station to get our train tickets back to London, when we randomly ran into Kate and John! How messed up is that?! We talked to them for a while about the trip thus far and about their plans. We parted ways and headed up onto a hill on the other side of the city to take pictures, it had started raining (which commenced until late into the night) and the pictures that I took didn’t turn out very well… Afterward we went shopping and enjoyed the tourist spots. For lunch we went to a Scottish pub called the Jolly Judge, and the trio agreed that not many judges are jolly in the way this one seemed to be portrayed on the sign. We continued our tour for a short while and then headed back to the hotel, thankfully, cloak and daggering our way through the lobby, for a nap before the festivities of the evening.

Hogmanay was frickin’ crazy! We obviously got there early, be cause we could actually walk down Princes Street; something we discovered later, proved to be impossible. We wandered around, kind of bored, and then decided to go into the Hogmanay Club area, where only the £45 ticket holders could go called: Ceilidh in the Gardens. We did not regret it.

First, we stood by this bouncy area, with a dome over it so people could be attached to the dome by little bungee cords. We felt that it would be much more entertaining as people got drunker to have them bounce high in the air and do flips… As that we’d been pretty drunk the night before (and had spent a good amount of money on the ticket) we decided to stay sober on New Year to enjoy every minute of our ticket. While standing by this bouncy dome and enjoying watching the drunks we started a conversation with this American guy standing near us, Joe Alexander. He asked us where we were from (“Michigan”), “Wow me too!” Small world we all agreed, and after inquiring further we discovered he was from Mackinac City!!

We all began to regale each other with stories from the Straits area. Turned out that Joe was a helicopter pilot (a wannabe actually according to his two friends) who was stationed in Germany but visiting Edinburgh for the Hogmanay. We talked to him for about an hour, before exchanging numbers and moving on, his two friends had (in my opinion upon discovering that neither Steph nor Kara were going to put out) moved on to ‘fresher’ meat… some girls who were going on the bouncy dome… they weren’t doing so well though, they seemed to have offended them somehow as they were getting some stern responses; I chuckled to myself. Gotta’ love those military boys.

After we left Joe we headed down to the Ceilidh in the Gardens: Traditional Scottish dancing. The dancing was held on a large open area that we immediately recognised as an ice rink that had been covered with thick rubber. There was a caller who (like the square dance at St. Anne’s on the island) first explained/walked us through the dance, and then started the music and we were supposed to do the whole thing. It was a lot of fun, but due to the rain that was coming down the entire night and the slippery rubber I did end up falling once. Steph looked all around for me and found me on the ground; we had a hearty laugh over it. The best part was that Kara was taking a video of the whole thing on my camera, so it is immortalised for all time. After we’d done a bunch of dancing we decided to go out of the Ceilidh in the Gardens and try to get to one of the many stages outside the fence. There were 6 stages in all and we wanted to check out this band that was playing. Leaving the fence turned out to be the worst idea of the night. The crowd of people that had amassed outside of the Ceilidh area was two or three people per square foot throughout the street, many of the pretty far along with their drinking. We had fun doing a Ferris Bueller (holding hands like the in museum scene) and eventually taking out our frustration by pushing forcibly through the groups that were just milling around in the sea of people. Randomly we saw Nick and a couple other people I’d met the night before at the party!! He joined up with us and we all forced our way toward where Hard-Fi was playing (the band we wanted to see) and just as we were getting close we came to a dead end of people. Nothing, no movement at all; we turned back after 10 minutes of dirty looks and pushing and testing. Steph, Kara and I headed (after some trouble) back into the Ceilidh in the Gardens. There were police everywhere by the fences keeping the £17 tickets out and only letting in those with both the Gold bracelet and the paper ticket; it felt like we were running into the US Embassy for safety in those movies like The Saint.

Once inside we decided not to leave until Hogmanay was over. We headed over to find a place for the fireworks and discovered that we could see/hear Hard-Fi from the promenade overlooking the Traditional Dancing, so we listened, watched, and decided we were better off. Talking and waiting for the fireworks we looked at our watches; it would still be an hour and we had a more music to see. We went to stage number 6 (the special Ceilidh in the Gardens stage) and watched this AMAZING Scottish band called Shooglenifty (who we talked to on Kara’s request after the set, to find out about a CD purchase) One of the guitarists looked a lot like Dennis Havlena, which was strange, but they were really amazing musicians. We enjoyed them until 11:55 and then headed back toward our spot, but stopped long before that.

The countdown was odd in that there were actually 3 different ones. First one from some stage, and then one from the Traditional Dancing crowd and then finally the real one from the mass of humanity confined to the fences. We all counted with them and at zero the Edinburgh castle, situated on cliffs above the centre of the city erupted. The fireworks were thick with colour and the display went on for about 15-20 minutes… the music resumed and we rocked out to a band populated with guys our own age!! Croft No. 5 was excellent and we rocked out to their whole set and then talked to them afterward to and asked about CDs. One of the guys was from Shetland (which we got really excited about because we’d been to Orkney) and he said we could get CDs on their website.

Finally around 2-3 we made it back to the hotel and hit the sack. A long day on the train was to follow…

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