The City of Shifting Lights

Hello All,

Today I am missing Europe. It has been months now since we moved back to the states. Enough time that I am starting to feel like I can’t say I JUST moved here from Germany anymore. And maybe it’s just because of the deployment, but all I want to do right now is hop on a plane and travel somewhere. Specifically on my mind right now? Scotland.

I got behind on my blogs last year during the summer, so there was a whole set of stories I never got to tell you guys. I have saved them up, and I hope someday to get to all of them. Maybe I will someday. But It was a year ago today that Green Lantern and I were wandering around the city of Edinburgh. I didn’t know or understand at the time how much that one trip would change everything. Melodramatic? Maybe. But I would be hate myself if I didn’t say that there was something about this city that spoke to me in a way that most other cities did not.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

When we stepped out of the airport… It felt different to me. Like… immediately, but in a way I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Later I realized that Edinburgh was a city built for people like me. It is home to brilliant writers… artists… actors. People who value tradition. People who believe in a little magic, and even some people who were not afraid to cause mayhem and create a colorful and interesting history. Robert Louis Stevenson. Alexander Graham Bell. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. All of these men came from Edinburgh. Even Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for Hogwarts within the borders of the city. It is a wondrous place drenched in History, and I wanted more than anything to immediately be part of it.

The First thing we did off the plane (after dropping our stuff in the hotel) was visit the Edinburgh Dungeons. I’m not going to go into excruciating detail about it, because the concept is the same as the passage I wrote when Green Lantern and I visited London. If you want to read about that, the link is here. I will say, however that I enjoyed it just as immensely as I did in London, and have a great love for the Scottish-specific pieces of history lodged there. My favorite sections were Sawney Bean (He was the head of a 48 person clan who lived in the caves near Bennane Head. He and his inherently incestuous family would capture travelers off the road, dismember them, and eat them.) and Burke and Hare (Whose story I will explain later). I was so interested in the subject matter, that I have since read a few books about it. Knowledge is power I guess. 🙂

That night we realized that we were visiting Edinburgh during an amazing time. It had literally become the crowning jewel of festivals. Obviously the big thing that was going on was the military tattoo, which were so disappointed about not being able to get tickets to. However, what little bit we saw at night as they marched out of Edinburgh Castle was enough for my Lantern and I to look at each other and promise we would come back someday to actually see it. But that was just the start of what we saw. There was an open market for crafters and artists selling their wares… a book and writers festival… and of course the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is an ode to all things comedic and dramatic. There were performances in the street, and special venues with events all over the city. It was can’t miss.

The following day, Green Lantern and I visited the Edinburgh Castle, St. Giles Cathedral and a few other of the historical churches, the Royal Mile, the Writer’s Museum, and the Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood. I could go on for days… literally days about all of the things we saw and did that day. Green Lantern and I were in love with everything we saw. The castle was beautiful, with so much to do and see. We spent the whole morning there before we ever moved on. We had pictures taken in traditional Scottish clothing taken on the Royal Mile that I look at fondly whenever I am on the stairs in my house. Everything was just beautiful and so full of history and life… I was drunk on it.

Something else really interesting happened while we were visiting, but that needs a little extra explanation. You see my Lantern is actually Scottish on both sides and from too different clans. I am way more of a “cultural mutt” if you will; However, I do have a strand of Scot-Irish that runs through my mother’s side. The strangest part of being in Scotland was seeing the natives in Edinburgh. Everywhere I looked I could see the similarities on my own husband’s face. It was as if those men across the street where his brothers, or those old men sitting in the pub were his uncles. Good to know I suppose, if we ever decide to have kids, that the Scottish gene is so strong. 😉

My favorite part of this day though was the ghost hunting tour. Maybe it sounds a little silly, but I begged Green Lantern to take me on a tour. Edinburgh is considered by some to be one of the most haunted cities in the world, and I have always been fascinated by stories about paranormal activity. It started when I was very young. They say that everyone has a certain degree of sensitivity to things that they can’t see… and I do believe that. I have been prone to boughs of deja vu, displaced and odd feelings (that later corresponded to times of events that changed my life), and dreams that come true are things that I have been privy to since I was a child. It was so interesting to see and explore pieces of the underground city which claimed so many lives years and years ago, and then conclude the tour wandering through the Greyfrairs Kirkyard Cemetery at midnight. You could definitely feel an energy there. It is said to be the home of the Mackenzie Poltergeist; a particularly violent entity who tends to pick one person in the group and terrorize them. The reports say that people have experienced everything from cold spots to unexplained bruises or scratches to being knocked unconscious.  I would never tell someone what to believe; It is simply not my style. But I will say that when the environment is right, it’s easy to feel like there is something else out there.

Home of the Mackenzie Poltergeist

Home of the Mackenzie Poltergeist

The next day we visited the National Museum of Scotland, Holyrood Palace, and Mary King’s Close. We used a hop on/hop off bus tour to get around it was fabulous. We learned so much history there that we hadn’t gotten anywhere else and it was a blast. I found the tour of Holyrood particularly interesting. Maybe it’s a little morbid, but I was fascinated by the story of Mary Queen of Scots. The story goes that Mary had a private secretary named David Rizzio. Mary’s husband at the time, Lord Darnley, was jealous of the friendship and was convinced that Rizzio was the Queen’s lover. On March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio was stabbed over 50 times and  murdered in the presence of the pregnant queen while in the palace. You can still see the bloodstains on the floor. How chilling is that?

Another cool thing that Green Lantern and I did that day actually had to do with the pub we ate lunch in. The name of the pub was the White Hart Inn and it is one of the oldest businesses in the city. It is located in the Grassmarket, where the public hangings used to be held, and has been operating since the 1600s. It was also the pub where the infamous serial killers William Burke and William Hare found their victims. The West Port murders, as they were called at the time, took place in the 1828. They killed 16 people and sold the bodies to a doctor who used them as cadavers in a prominent medical school of the time.

The White Hart Inn

The White Hart Inn

We had enough time on our last day to hit the Edinburgh Zoo before we left for the airport. It was a wonderful zoo, well planned and with a wide variety of animals. The pregnant panda was the bug news of the day, and we did get to her. As we made our way to the airport, I remember being quiet and lost in my thoughts. It was one of the few places I was overwhelmingly sad to leave. I had told Green Lantern early in the trip that I thought we should retire there, and I was only half kidding. I was positive I could work in the Edinburgh Dungeons and just be blissfully happy for the rest of my days. We both agreed though as we boarded the plane that we should have taken longer than a four-day weekend to explore. What about the Highlands? What about Loch Ness? I think we could have spent weeks exploring and it wouldn’t have been enough for us. It is one of my dearest wishes that someday we will go back. Maybe a 10 year anniversary? I’m looking at you GL! 😛

I spent the weeks that following the trip full of inspiration. I wrote. I mean, really wrote for the first time in years. I went back and researched the culture and the stories I had heard during our visit. I tried to become more in touch with the roots I knew I had from Scotland. The legends and myths of the early religions even made their way into my Necronomicon reproduction. I wish that I still had that magic streak that Edinburgh gave me. I wish I could wander those gorgeous streets again. I wish I could sketch in the castle from the park surrounded by flowers, or write quietly in one of the pubs in the early afternoon. I find myself, even now, so completely taken by Wanderlust and the ease of travel that here in the states I sometimes feel isolated. I would even say it’s alienating, especially since my Lantern left for his deployment. Let’s hope that when he finally finds his way home again, he is just as ready to pack a bag and run away for a while as I am.

Cheers,

BG

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