Chapter One: Ryan Air? More like Ryan Blair…Witch Project! Okay that is a stretch. I’m basically trying to come up with an evil name for Ryan Air but I’m not good at it.
Technically the Edinburgh portion of my travelogue begins in Dublin, where we boarded our first Ryan Air flight. This was probably the most nerve-wracking part of our trip. I spent many hours over several weeks gathering the information I needed to tackle Ryan Air’s no frills airfare service. I read blogs, I read warnings online, I read messages from friends who had been there, done that and had lots of issues to report back to me. At first I thought they were all batshit crazy because I just got two flights from one country to another country for like 75 Canadian dollars so how could that ever be a bad thing? Then I was told that Ryan Air makes their money by forcing you to pay for absolutely everything else. We had to check in online and print our boarding passes, otherwise there would be a hefty fee waiting for us at the airport. It cost 5 euro each to check in online. Not too shabby, I thought. And then the internet told me that there was no chance in heaven or hell that my backpack would be light enough or small enough to be used as a free carry-on so I was going to have to check my bag. Checking my bag cost more than my flight in one case, but it was still cheap because I’m from Canada, a country where it costs approximately one kidney to fly from one province to the next. Now, to be completely honest with you, at the time that I found out how much it would cost to check my bag I dramatically said to Boyfriend “NOW I CAN’T AFFORD TO GO ON OUR TRIP!” and then stormed off to cry in another room. But I had just finished paying all of my bills for September and that always makes me emotional. So I finished crying then I sucked it up and paid online for a 15 kg bag. I hoped and prayed that my bag would be less than that as I walked up to the Ryan Air service counter and placed it on the weight scale. Like, I was so worried about the weight of my bag that I actually started sweating a bit. I was willing to open the bag up, channel my inner Joey Tribbiani and wear almost all of the clothes in it if it meant I would have to pay for more weight. But I was really hoping I didn’t have to do that because it was a pretty warm day. I realized as I approached the service counter that I had created such a fear of Ryan Air in my head that I actually had trouble looking the customer service agent in the eye. Based on things I had read leading up to this very moment I was worried that if they didn’t like the look of me they would turn me away from the flight. What if my hair looked messy from the wind?! What if there was something in my teeth?! As you probably assumed, the girl who served me was a normal human being and not a tentacled monster like I had envisioned. Ryan Air was just a normal airline. It turned out that my backpack was only half the weight a carry on needs to be, and the girl laughed and told me “sweetie you definitely could have carried that on for free!” Well, damn it! There goes 130 bucks! I checked my bag anyway, because I doubt “fear mongering” is a good reason to ask for a refund. Then Boyfriend and I went to find our gate. Another thing we were warned about regarding Ryan Air was that it can be really hard to find the gate, and they can switch it often. So I assumed I was walking into some sort of Stephen King Rose Red situation, but again that was just my mind going overboard. Nothing exciting happened on the gate front. Just like every other flight I have been on – we found the gate, waited, stood in line to board, got on the correct plane that would take off from the correct gate and only an hour later it would land in the correct country. As we were boarding I noticed that not a single person was asked to put their carry on in the little metal crate that proves whether it will fit on the plane or not. No one even looked at people’s carry on luggage! I seriously don’t see why people were so worried. It turned out to be the least evil airline I’ve ever flown. If Ryan Air were in fact a monster it would have to be Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc.
Chapter Two: Holy crap this place is made for wizards!
We landed in Edinburgh and took the airport bus to centre city. From the airport to centre city I looked out the window and thought this is cute but it’s not life changing. And then we got off at our stop in centre city and I looked up at the street ahead of me. “This is pretty,” I said to Boyfriend. But Boyfriend was busy gaping at something on the other side of the street. “Lisa, turn around. Turn around!” he excitedly said to me. “These buildings are quite nice, I can’t see what can be much nicer than this,” I said as I began to turn. And that’s when I saw the GIANT castle looming over the city on top of a huge cliff. “Oh. Well then.” And from that moment on I was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Edinburgh that I actually didn’t know how to handle it. It’s almost like I was filled with so much love and awe and perhaps jealousy that Edinburgh is not where I grew up that I thought maybe the only way to release those feelings was by having a temper tantrum in the middle of the street. I decided against that and just took a lot of pictures and said “wow” probably 300 times during my weekend there, but to this day when I try to describe the beauty of Edinburgh I actually think I might cry.
It was 9 am when we arrived in Edinburgh and we couldn’t check in to our Airbnb room until 2pm. Even though we got little sleep the night before and we woke up at 5:30am to catch our flight, I felt extremely refreshed because I was walking around in a medieval city underneath a giant fucking castle that looked like Hogwarts. I was a mere muggle graced with the privilege of walking in a wizard’s world. “I CAN DO ANYTHING!” I thought as I skipped down alleys and over bridges. And then we got lost and I got a leg cramp so I had to get my cane out of my bag.
We were lost trying to find The Elephant House Cafe, the place where J.K. Rowling spent many days writing Harry Potter as a poor, single mom. It was number three on my list of places to see in Edinburgh and it seemed like a great place to lay down my slightly-lighter-than-expected-but-still-too-heavy-for-someone-with-a-muscle-condition-backpack and rest my feet for awhile. After about thirty minutes of wandering around my skin seemed to absorb less and less of the magical energy pouring out of the Hogwartian castle and I mentally and physically gave up on the steps outside of the National History Museum. I whined about my bag being heavy, my legs hurting, being tired and probably fifteen other things. And then we realized we were right next to The Elephant House. It was literally across the street, and not the kind of literal that is actually metaphorical but people are idiots and use it anyway. So I quickly gathered up my backpack and my pride from the sidewalk and walked the last thirty steps to the cafe. It is evident, from the moment you walk up to the front door of the cafe, that they are milking this Harry Potter connection for absolutely everything it’s worth. And I probably would too, because it’s worth a shit ton of money. I was giddy as I walked inside and immediately bought 8 postcards of JK Rowling writing in the corner at a round table. We ordered breakfast and laid our god forsaken backpacks on the floor in a heap next to our chairs. As we waited for our breakfast I took out my travel notebook and tried to start writing about my trip to Edinburgh because I thought maybe I could channel some sort of magic that JK Rowling found sitting in this cafe and maybe it would be the best thing I ever wrote. And I was so tired and possibly delirious at this point that I probably thought it was in fact the best thing I ever wrote. In hindsight, meaning right now when I’m back home and well rested, I know that I just wrote a pile of shit. I wrote probably two sentences before becoming absorbed in my Scottish bacon, which is very similar to Irish bacon.
I ate my breakfast and pretended to be JK Rowling for a little longer because the longer I loitered there the longer I could go without returning my backpack to my back. I got up to use the bathroom and as soon as I opened the door I was taken aback by the sheer volume of graffiti covering literally every surface of the washroom. Again, the real kind of literally. Here is proof:
EVEN THE TOILET SEAT AND THE MIRROR! It amazed me. Boyfriend probably thought I was deathly ill because I spent roughly thirty minutes in the bathroom reading as many messages as possible. The dirty messages were my favourite. I’d get sleazy for a Weasly. People are funny. Aren’t people funny?
After the Elephant House, I walked around taking some more pano pics and saying “woooow” every time I looked in a different direction. We walked down Victoria Street, which is an adorable street on a hill under the castle that is filled with cute boutique shops and restaurants. Oh yeah, and on top of those stores on Victoria street was ANOTHER STREET! Double decker street! It blew my mind.
Chapter Three: Arthur’s Seat isn’t a seat after all
Now is the part in my travelogue where I tell you about something that happened throughout my trip that I thought was the funniest thing in the world. It killed me every single time. I bought a Tobias Funke (Arrested Development) bobblehead at a comic book store back home and brought him along on our trip. My main goal for my vacation was to take pictures of Tobias in front of all the major landmarks that we visited. Sometimes I took so many pictures of Tobias in front of these landmarks that I forgot to take pictures of myself in front of them. For example, here you will find Tobias visiting the Royal Mile:
Isn’t it the best? Wait until you see him on the Beatles tour of Liverpool.
At 2 pm we went to reprieve ourselves of our luggage and to check out our new flat. This was our first foray into Airbnb so I was slightly nervous that the flat would look nothing like the picture and that maybe the old witch lady from Hansel & Gretel would be our host. Or a relative of Burke or Hare. The apartment was fantastic, luckily, and the host was lovely. Our room was a loft room so we had to climb a steep staircase up and down to get to the bed. I absolutely loved this because it made me feel like we were camping in a cabin, but of course I found it near impossible to climb up and down those stairs most of the time. Poor Boyfriend had to keep climbing up and down to fetch me things but I think it was worth it because I got to sleep in a loft in Edinburgh and I had a servant fetching me chocolate from downstairs. I hope he doesn’t read this.
The rest of our first day in Edinburgh was spent touring Old Town and seeing the sights. We took a bus towards Arthur’s Seat – the number one thing on my list of cool things to do in Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is a giant hill overlooking Edinburgh. They climbed it at the beginning of the movie One Day, and I want to be Anne Hathaway so I thought it would be a fun thing to do. The whole summer before our trip I practiced walking hills in preparation for hiking Arthur’s Seat. The reason I wore the footwear that I wore on our trip was so that I could hike Arthur’s Seat. The main reason I purchased travel health insurance was because I was going to hike Arthur’s Seat. And then we got to the bottom of it and I looked up for two seconds, turned to Boyfriend and said “yeah, fuck that!” It was steep and at this point of our trip I was using my cane less for pointing at things or finding ways to make Boyfriend look like a jerk in public and more for actually being able to walk. Arthur’s Seat is such a deceiving name because when you think of seats you think of being lazy and not having to walk a lot and maybe also watching tv. It shouldn’t be the name of a place where you have to overly exert yourself and then there aren’t even any seats at the top to sit on. So those are my excuses. Do I regret not doing it? Sort of. It would have been nice to climb to the top and kiss Boyfriend up there, overlooking the most beautiful city I’ve ever been in, but it’s also pretty nice not being in insurmountable pain while walking.
Chapter Four: A Hipster’s Tour of Edinburgh – Visiting Edinburgh’s Underground
We decided to spend our second day in Edinburgh underground. We started our day at the Edinburgh Dungeons. I bought us tickets online because the website said there was a cool boat ride and a rollercoaster, and also because I was under some false assumption that we were actually going to be getting a tour of real, historical dungeons. Not so much. It was some sort of theatrical thing. It was really dark and they used actors to scare us. I still enjoyed it for the most part. In one of the rooms we visited they were telling us about the crimes that people were executed for and they picked on Boyfriend – he had to go up to the stand and plead guilty of cross-dressing and I was encouraged to boo loudly at him. That was awesome! And then in the next room they showed us the tools they used to torture people back in the day and they used Boyfriend again. He had to go sit in the chair and get fake tortured and I got to boo again. Okay…this I could get used to, I thought. And then we entered this creepy cave-like room to be told the story of a cannibalistic-sailor-eating-serial-killing family who were basically wildlings living in a cave in Edinburgh many years ago. And instead of picking on Boyfriend, this terrifying girl who was all hunch backed and stealthy with her hair hiding her face creeped up behind me and asked me my name in a terrifying voice. I told her it was Lisa. She then proceeded to slither my name for five minutes, popping up in different locations around me. She told me she wanted to keep me forever. I kind of wanted to find her after and tell her she was a good actress. I was proud of her. Very convincing cannibal. Talk about a back-handed compliment! Next we entered a room where Boyfriend got picked on again, this time he was beheaded! The girl beheading him “missed” the first try and just cut off his ear. She brought the fake ear over to us and said “I missed, but at least I get a souven-ear!” I laughed embarrassingly hard and she commended me for finding her humour funny. I knew there would come a day when my lame sense of humour would be a good thing! There was also a ride where we were dropped from very high up and Boyfriend was petrified so I found that really funny too. And then we couldn’t find our way out of a mirror maze and Boyfriend accidentally walked right into a mirror so I enjoyed that too. Based on how many times Boyfriend got picked on during our dungeon adventure it was worth the price I paid, but the boat ride was broken and they didn’t tell us until the end so – being the bitch I am – I decided to forget about the parts of the adventure that I enjoyed and I decided to obsess over the missing boat ride instead.
After the dungeon adventure we rushed to the National History Museum so I could take a selfie with Dolly the Sheep – the first cloned animal. For your information, that picture didn’t get a single like on my Facebook, which really upset me because I thought my selfie with a clone was way better than someone’s bathroom selfie.
We seriously only stayed at the museum long enough for that picture to happen because we had to rush to Mary King’s Close – a tour of a close underneath the city council building where lots of people died of the plague in the 1800s. It was very creepy and it was an actual tour of an actual place and not some theatrical thing, therefore it ended up being my favourite attraction in Edinburgh. It’s absolutely amazing to stand in a tiny cobblestone room with one bucket in the corner and to be told that a family of twelve lived in that one tiny room and that all twelve of them died of the plague – exactly where I was standing. I instantly looked at Boyfriend with concern and just by using our eyes we had this whole conversation:
Me: How long does it take for the plague to not be contagious anymore?! If anyone in this room is going to get the plague it’s me!!!
Boyfriend: Lisa, you’re being ridiculous, you can’t get the plague from standing in a plague room where people died hundreds of years ago!
Me: You’re right, thank you. You keep me grounded.
Boyfriend: You mean “under-grounded?”
Me: Oh snap.
At least, I assume that was what he was telling me with his eyes.
Chapter Five: Now, let’s bring this story to a close…get it?
I’ve written five pages now, when I probably could have condensed all of this to two pages. I’m not good at editing my trip for you. At least you don’t have to hear all of this in person. When my father called me and asked me to tell him a “detailed” account of my vacation it took over two hours of non-stop talking because I recounted absolutely everything I remember doing in the order that I did them, down to every single meal I ate. So, at least it’s sort of edited for you. I guess the only thing I have left to share with you about Edinburgh is that I found a store called The Red Door and that is where I purchased this:
Oh yeah, all of those things I told you to stay tuned for at the end of my Dublin entry were made up. None of it happened. Boyfriend didn’t fall off a cliff, I didn’t save him (although I definitely would have), no celebrities had tea with me (except in my imagination) and whatever else I said could have happened didn’t. I’m too lazy to go back and read it again. But just trust me that I was just using a tactic to get you hooked. Don’t expect anything special like that for the next post. I can’t even make up awesome shit for Manchester. It just didn’t go well. I can’t even think of a horrible enough title for it yet. Seriously…the worst.