Hauntings in Edinburgh - HP Day 3

Trip Start May 23, 2009
Trip End Jul 20, 2009

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Sunday, July 12, 2009

On our third day in Edinburgh we walked up to the Edinburgh Castle. In front of the entrance stadium seating had been set up for a bagpipe competition held earlier and two girls were dressed up as a unicorn and a dragon – representing Scotland and England.  There was also a bagpiper who played Scottish songs from the Castle balcony.  We could see the castle from our hotel and I'd admired how the building seemed to blend right into the rocks as if the castle was carved from the mountain.  We took a tour of the castle and got to see the "Honours of Scotland," Scotland’s crown jewels that re some of the oldest crown jewels in Europe.  In the same exhibit we saw the “Stone of Destiny” which is used as a coronation stone and is literally a big hunk of stone that sits underneath the throne during coronations. Heather remarked that the crown jewels were some of the oldest and therefore not particularly blinging or impressive – she encouraged to see the ones in England as a comparison. There was a pretty interesting exhibit on the castle prisons and we got to hear stories of the castle by a guy in costume in the Great Hall.

The HP significance of visiting Edinburgh Castle is that 1) Edinburgh is J.K. Rowling’s home and she got lots of her inspiration from the castle and the town in general, 2) rumor has it that she had a view of Edinburgh Castle from where she sat and wrote the first HP in the Elephant House Café,and 3) she had her exclusive Half-Blood Prince launch there in 2005.  At the entrance to the castle theyprojected the HBP cover on the castle wall and she had a reading of the book inthe Great Hall!

After exploring the castle we went to Deacon Brody's for lunch where my dad tried the traditional Scottish haggis and we also had some authentic Fish 'n Chips.  Afterlunch we had more free time so we explored the streets of Edinburgh – we saw many street performers including a silver guy that was an impressive dancer!  It was really funny at one point because he went right up to a car and was peering in as the guy waited to pick up his girlfriend. 

While David and dad went to the Edinburgh Dungeon attraction mom, Michelle, and I had coffee/hot chocolate in a pub and then went to the Balmoral Hotel (where J.K. finished writing Deathly Hallows) and creeped inside.  Michelle thought that J.K.must have been up on the 6th/top floor so we went up there and walked around.  We ran into the same bellhop three times but if he suspected we were up to something he didn’t show it.  After we finished wandering The Balmoral we walked over to the Scott Monument and looked in a store before heading back to the hotel for a very quick nap.  We then headed outfor our Mercat tour called “Ghosts and Ghouls.”  Our guide Ella was phenomenal; she told the stories so well and was really funny.  She even pretended to whip some people on the tour to demonstrate some of the old torture practices.  We went to a variety of locations where stories were told about Edinburgh citizens and then went down into the city’s underground vaults where more ghost stories were told.  I was really surprised to learn about all of the body snatching that took place where people were either a) dug upafter they were buried and sold to the black market to the surgeon’s college orb) murdered in order to sell the body. They even mentioned that since medical practice was lacking many people were often buried alive and were presumed dead even though they were just in a coma; sometimes the body snatchers would end up saving the person.  For example, when some body snatchers dug up a wealthy woman and wanted to steal the woman’s jewels first, they had trouble getting her rings off so they cut off her fingers.  By the fourth finger something hit a nerve and the woman woke up from her coma!

On our way back to get a late dinner after the tour we stopped in the Police Museum because it had been mentioned in one of the stories because there was a leather card case made out of the skin of a man hanged for murder – they were sure creative back then!  We at dinner at an Italian restaurant and then finally called it a night.

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