On my way from London to Aberdeen to visit my friend Tiffany, I took a day trip to Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and home to the café where J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter, the National Museum of Scotland, and Edinburgh Castle.
In true Scottish fashion, it rained on me… the entire time I was in Scotland. Good thing I was able to fit all of my rain gear in my backpack! Just kidding, I wore a sweatshirt and jeans and was soaked to the skin in minutes.
I walked (err… sloshed) up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. With an inch of water in my shoes, I was tempted to “sack off” the castle and go to the nearby whiskey museum instead. Clouded in a mist, the castle looked a bit gloomy. I was greeted by a tall arch and loads of schoolchildren (who also looked quite miserable in the rain), but the castle was mostly empty since most people prefer to explore castles in the sunshine.
I was surprised by how much of the castle has been preserved, it really feels like you are taking a step into the past! You can see the room where Queen Mary of Scots gave birth to James VI and sit on the beds that once held prisoners of war. For the tourists that know absolutely nothing about the history of Scotland (me), there are museums to take you through the conflicts in which Edinburgh castle played a role – from the Wars of Scottish Independence to the American Revolution.
The highlight of my self-led castle tour was the prison. The vaults in Edinburgh Castle served as a prison for over 50 years and accommodated prisoners from the Napoleonic Wars, the French Revolution, the American War of Independence and the Seven Years War. The doors of the prison have been preserved and you can see where prisoners etched their stories. One man lied about who he was to avoid execution, but revealed his true identity on one of these doors.
I was hoping to have some time to do a ghost tour in Edinburgh, but had to run to catch my bus to Aberdeen. *Note: if you ever go to Edinburgh and do a ghost tour, please take lots of pictures so that I can pretend like I did.
It rained the entire way to Aberdeen and I arrived at the bus station to see Tiffany waiting for me. Tiffany has been in Aberdeen for two months and was able to weave through the cobblestone streets like a pro, pointing out a few coffee shops where I could work the next day.
I only had three days in Aberdeen before Tiffany and I flew to the Spain, so it would have made sense to pack them with activities. Instead, I was a bit of a lazy tourist. Maybe it was the rain, or maybe it was the fact that my wallet was hungover from London, but my first two days in Aberdeen were pretty uneventful.
When I finally managed to tear myself away from my favorite coffee shop, Books and Beans, I wandered into the Museum of Aberdeen. Initially, I was completely unimpressed. The downstairs exhibit was a bit gruesome and smelled weird, but the true gem was upstairs. The museum was holding an exhibition for the Tapestry of Scotland, which holds the record for the World’s Largest Tapestry. That’s an interesting title to hold… I wonder how many people have attempted? Ha.
All joking aside, the tapestry is a history nerd’s dream! It consists of 160 panels that chronicle the 12000 years of Scottish history – from the black death to William Wallace to women’s rights. There was a woman in the middle room with a sewing machine, perhaps working on the 161st panel?
A weird thought popped into my brain. Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a tapestry of our lives? Here’s a panel to commemorate your high school track record… your first job… your trip around the world. And here’s the stuff you DON’T want to remember, like that time you tripped on stage at a dance competition… overindulged at your work Christmas party… spent too long in a job you didn’t like… If that were the case, maybe it would be less likely for history to repeat itself and more likely to take what we’ve learned in the past to mold a better future.
I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog. I don’t want all the moments of my trip, good or bad, small or big, to pass by unnoticed. I want to reflect and allow my experiences to mold my future for the better. So from the start of this trip, this blog post is Tapestry #5. #6 is still blank.