Days 2 & 3: Edinburgh, and the road to Glasgow

There really is too much to tell you about the last two days.

Yesterday, we got to Edinburgh.  The Dublin airport is super pretty, but it’s officially my least favorite airport, and the Irish are really mean and rude in the airport, let me tell you.  Great anywhere else – but the airport brings out the nasty bigtime.

After we checked into our hotel, a quirky B&B without the second B called Ivy Guest House, we went walking in search of food and eventually found ourselves on the Royal Mile.  Every way we turned – and we wandered aimlessly for about 12 hours – there was another amazing sight to see, another gorgeous church, another stunning sculpture. The most used phrases of the day were “Wow” and “Oh my god” and “Honey you have to see this” and “I can’t even.” We did a lot of “can’t even”.  Edinburgh’s old city is straight out of a fairytale.

Highlights of the day include Greyfriar’s Kirkyard and Kirk, Giles Cathedral, and the Fiddler’s Arms, a pub where we had dinner.  Apparently Burke and Hare killed one of their victims right where we sat, a young man named Ludivico.  I told Ludivico’s ghost that my vegetarian haggis was delicious.

This morning, we headed straight to Dryburgh Abbey, but on the way saw a castle called Craigmillar and stopped to wander around the ruins for a while.  Gorgeous, needless to say.  Then, when we were almost to Dryburgh, we saw a sign that said Wallace Statue.  My response was “OK” and a sudden right turn took us to a path which we hiked up and saw a gorgeous stone statue of William Wallace.

When we finally got to Dryburgh we were both awestruck.  I took a million pictures, but they can’t really evoke the momentous beauty of the place.  While exploring those ruins we met a sweet couple in their 70s who were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.  We talked with them for a good hour, then spent another half hour or so chatting with the caretakers of the site.  The scots are a very friendly lot.

After Dryburgh, we went to Melrose Abbey.  These are buildings that were built 900 years ago, and they are engineering marvels.  Not only is it amazing that parts of them are still standing, but the detail and love with which they’re crafted is almost a religious experience in and of itself.

From Melrose, we wound our way through quaint adorable scottish villages and rolly green countryside punctuated by sheep and cows.  Quote of the day:  “Those are definitely cows. Or bushes.”  We took a ton of wrong turns but never regretted a single one.  Eventually we made it to Blackwood, a small town in Kirkmuilhall where Chris’s ancestors may have lived.

It was time for dinner.  We were both hangry and tired, so we found a cute little pub called The Poachers and went in.  While eating, we asked the waitress if there was a graveyard nearby, and got directions to one in Lesmahagow, just up the road.

The table next to us struck up a conversation with us, and it turns out that one of them was a Blackwood!  James lives in Coulburn, which he says we should avoid because they have the “six fingered sort” there.  He had to explain to us that meant inbred – hillbilly types.  We were highly amused.  We chatted with Jelly, David and James and Ayl for about an hour, and then we headed out in search of Blackwood graves.

The Lesmahagow (they call it The Gow) churchyard is much more run down and messy than the churchyards we’d seen previously.  It’s clearly a smalltown relic, now mostly used by drunken twentysomethings as the many discarded beer cans showed.  However, we did find two Blackwood graves, mostly intact and beautiful next to the ruins of a very tiny chapel.  On the other side of the churchyard wall were the foundation ruins of a 12th century church, the original building on the site.

Now we’re at our Glasgow hotel, exhausted but happy.  I’m pulling pictures off of my camera because, having taken 950 of them so far, I’ve filled up my cards.  I’ll try to post some soon – I know a lot of them will be throwaway because that’s how I shoot, yo.

We have decided that the Scots are the nicest people on the planet.  We might never come back.  Feel free to come visit us in the middle of our green fields and fluffy white sheep.

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