Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Day 29: Edinburgh

Another early start - ugh. Breakfast was at 7:30am then we hit the road by 8:30am for our terribly long drive to Edinburgh (approx. six hours - how did I ever survive the twelve hours between Sydney and Brisbane as a child?). After an hour, we had to allow for an emergency bathroom stop in Brora. It was a customer-only toilet at a servo but I was only to happy to pay the £1.50 (Coke Zero, mais oui) for the glorious privilege. Whew.

The fog was shocking but cleared enough near Golspie to catch one last glimpse of the beach. We battled slow drivers (trucks, caravans, idiots) then paused for lunch in Perthshire - it look a bit long but was nice.

We capped off the last hour with a visit to a Shell then checked into the hotel from some days earlier. So began our races - me to the post office with books and Cazy to book a ghost tour (and to pick up train tickets). He then enlisted me in helping him post stuff. I grumbled a bit (I had washing to finish!) but cheered myself up at a Sainsbury’s afterwards.

Dinner sorted, we walked up to the Mercat and met Robin, our guide. Cazy made wisecracks about Batman and we met people from Melbourne and Hamilton. Robin was not Scottish but seems to have been in Edinburgh long enough to give detailed accounts and narration of past events. He singled Cazy out as a victim - my brother acted along merrily, screaming girlishly when prompted. 

Dusk on the Royal Mile

My brother seemed to be a stand in for a Macbeth-type character (he encountered hags who promised kingship in his future). Robin then took us down a close which was very old and narrow - not the sort of place I’d want to use at night in the 19th century, especially if people were lurking there, puffing on cigars...

Robin, with his black cape and mainland European accent, regaled us with a story about a guy who diddled his sister and all manner of creatures. Then we ambled down the sloping close to Cowgate, following the road then turning left to access the Edinburgh Vaults. There was still a light sky above us when we entered. Robin lit a candle for himself but offered none to us! We descended uneven steps to an uneven floor. The vaults were lit with strategically placed white candles.

Basically, the vaults are archways that were built beneath the South Bridge in the 18th century for tradesmen but the rooms were not waterproof so instead a lot of lowlifes moved in - illegal trade and gambling flourished. The vaults were filled in to stop these activities and were rediscovered in the 1980s. Ghost stories, naturally, became the stock in trade.

Robin led us into the Cobbler’s room which is supposed to be safe because of that ghost’s positive vibes. His pile of stones lay on the left but on the right the stones belonged to the Woman in Black who does not let women pass by her corner safely. Robin instructed us to show our modern shoes to the Cobbler as we passed. I wonder what he thought of my joggers!

Don't forget to show your shoes!

The next room we stopped in once stored barrels of wine. According to Robin, this was where a ghostly child played. Then it was time for Mr. Boots’s room - very small, somewhat claustrophobic. Cazy was eager to take another photo here as when he’d taken one days earlier it seemed that an evil ghostly face had appeared. I listened patiently to tales of Mr. Boots’s possessing people but by then I was convinced the vaults were not haunted.

The vaults

At the end, Robin took us to a museum room but I was more interested in the still open gift shop next door. I bought a magnet and a can of Irn Bru!

Cazy and I emerged into the night, though our way home was lit by bars and strip joints.

Back at our hotel, I finished the laundry and toasted my last night in Edinburgh with the Irn Bru.

A long day awaited in a few hours. 

To sleep I went.

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