After having breakfast, we set off towards our car. We decided to take a quick detour to Moray Firth, which is just in the northern bits of Inverness. We went there only because it looked like a park we could throw at, but when we got there is was mostly cold and windy coast line. When I looked it up later, I discovered the Moray Firth is actually a really important marine sanctuary because it is home to dolphins and sometimes whales. Which was interesting… we didn’t see any dolphins, but I would of paid closer attention had I known. I thought all the dolphin art that was around was rather cheesy, but now it makes sense.
Once we hit the road for real, we set out on our mission to find Edinburgh via the scenic route. We started out by following signs, which were little brown and white thistle symbols. The only problem was that these signs were few and far between and there were blue and white thistle signs along the way pointing people in some other direction apparently. We ended up getting lost and confused.
We passed a battlefield as we drove, it was apparently the battlefield of the Battle of Culloden. Culloden was the last planned battle on British soil and occurred in 1746. The battle was the last battle of the Jacobite rising, which was a political movement meant to bring the Stuart’s family into power again. The uprising was largely supported by France and Spain. The main issue behind this rising was apparently the idea that parliamentary interference with the monarchy was unacceptable.
Eventually the misleading signs and windy roads made me very cranky and irritable. I didn’t know where we were, so whenever Jeff asked me which way to go I didn’t know the answer, and seeing as how the signs were confusing he was asking me a lot, which made me more cranky because it wasn’t like I suddenly was going to know which way to go or where we were so I don’t understand why he kept asking me! Plus, I was getting car sick because I was trying to read the map because we didn’t know where we were, but it clearly wasn’t helping me find where we were. Anyway, per usual, Jeff took my mood like a champ, and bought me a chocolate bar and some soda when he stopped for gas. I was able to find us on the map and we got a main road and once again enjoyed the scenery.
After passing some castle ruins and some grazing horses, and more sheep than any one country should be home too, we eventually made it to Edinburgh. My one request about stopping in Edinburgh was that we drive past or stop at the Elephant House. For those of you who don’t know, The Elephant House is one of the Cafe’s in Edinburgh where JK Rowling started writing the first book in the Harry Potter series. She was living in Edinburgh taking classes to become a teacher; originally she is from a town near Bristol which is about 2 hours west of London. After so many hours of driving, Jeff and I stopped at the Cafe and had some lunch and played cards. It was easy to see this as an inspirational spot for writers as the back room has large windows that let in a lot of natural light, and the view is overlooking the Edinburgh castle, which is perfect inspiration for Hogwarts. The room is painted warm yellows and reds, with comfortable sofas and large tables. Harry Potter memorabilia is kept to a minimum, though the employees shirts all say “Elephant House: birthplace of Harry Potter” on the back. In the bathroom one of the toilets are decoupaged with Harry Potter images, when I went to take a photo of it, one other girl was about to do the same and we shared our awkward moment of taking a photo of something hundreds of people’s naked bums have been on.
Aside from the Harry Potter birthplace, I don’t know how to describe Edinburgh. It was kind of like my first walk about London, when I saw all those famous landmarks. As we drove through Edinburgh, it was just beautiful building, after beautiful street, after beautiful statue. There was so much amazing-ness to see that my jaw just dropped and I didn’t know how to process it all. We parked the car and walked around the city, and the architecture was outstanding and the streets were cobbled, and the city has an effing castle in the middle of it, I don’t know why I didn’t start with that. Of course a city with a castle in it would be awesome. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and has had people living there since the Bronze Age. Scotland was an independent country until 1706 when the Act of the Union joined it with Great Britain, which caused riots in the streets of Edinburgh. I only have 21 days in the UK left and I definitely hope to make it back to Edinburgh for a few of them, 3 hours was definitely not enough.
I begrudgingly got back in the car after our walk around the city and we headed 40 minutes south to Melrose. We wanted to check out the Melrose Abbey and were quickly running out of days, so to save time we would sleep there tonight. We also figured that as a small town, Melrose would be cheaper to stay in than Edinburgh. We drove south with the landscape painted in a gold tint from the sunset, and the baby sheep were running and jumping, playing in the evening sun. It was a nice drive, and after seeing such a great city, we were in high spirits.
After finding the small city of Melrose, we got a room at a hotel that was the most expensive we’ve stayed in all trip. Apparently Melrose has won awards for being the best tourist town or something, which gives them the right to charge more than necessary. The hostess was very nice though, and took our ribbing well. She did give us the nicest room for less than standard asking price, but since we came in so late, she said it was unlikely she’d of rented the room anyway, so why not?
We had a delicious dinner at the hotel over a bottle of wine, and Jeff and I were engrossed in conversation. It was one of those conversations that you connect with someone in, it jumps from one topic to another, each person engaged and focused, hours go by and it feels like moments. When you’re with someone for a long time, those conversations become more rare, so whenever they happen it is like a finding a dollar in a pair of pants. It’s exciting and warming. After dinner, Jeff and I stayed up late playing cards… despite the day starting out as me being cranky at Jeff and the stupid road system of Scotland, I’d say that it was the best evening of the trip so far.