Just an update on what I’ve been up to the past few days. First, Steven did make it out of the hospital in time for Christmas. In fact he was released Christmas Eve, so I didn’t have to open his presents, or eat his portion of Christmas dinner, or be a replacement son for the Findlays in any way. Instead I got to be the live-in Canadian tourist.
Christmas Eve was a pretty quiet affair, especially compared to the hecticness that is Ukrainian Christmas Eve at the Coulson Farm. For dinner we had vegetarian haggis, neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), and coleslaw. After dinner, Steven came home and there was much rejoicing. Even his sisters were happy to see them (he must be nicer to them than I am to mine).
On Christmas morning, nobody woke up until 9:30. There was a wee stocking waiting for me with a Christmas orange and some chocolates (Christmas oranges are obviously a global tradition). I received some awesome Scottish gifts from the Findlays, including a Scottish rugby jersey, a singing jimmy hat, and a Loch Ness monster mug, so I don’t have to buy any souvenirs now. Part of my gift to the Findlays was Blokus – which has been a hit.
Christmas dinner was a wholesome meal – turkey and all the fixings, vegetables, a potato soup, and pine nut casserole for the vegetarian. It was really tasty meal. After dinner we sat in the living room playing parlour games and entertaining ourselves.
On Boxing Day, the Findlays went down to Glasgow to visit there relatives, and I spent the day biking and hiking around Edinburgh. I got lost several times, but found my way thanks to the compass and map Mr. Findlay gave me. Edinburgh is really hilly, a fact you really notice on bike. It didn’t take long to get used to biking on the other side of the street, but the roundabouts were always an adventure. I biked into downtown and visited the Edinburgh Castle and biked down the Royal Mile. Then I chained the bike up in Holyrood Park and hiked up Arthur’s Seat. Hiking up Arthur’s Seat was an adventure in its own – it rises 822 feet above Edinburgh and is really steep and rocky at parts. But the view from the top was stunning – even though it was rainy and cloudy (funny the first two days I was here were perfectly sunny). On the way down my seat became good friends with Arthur’s Seat as I slid down a chunk of the hill. My Gore-Tex pants were a bit muddied, but otherwise unharmed.
On Tuesday, I took the bus downtown and braved the crowds on Princes Street to do some shopping. There were some pretty good Boxing Week sales, so I picked up a few Christmas presents. No I’m no finished yet, but as far as I’m concerned Christmas isn’t until February, so I have lots of time.
Last night it snowed, so it was a pretty sight waking up to snow on the ground this morning. I haven’t seen snow since I went skiing at Mount Baker back in February, and I missed it. I was up early, at 6:45, because I was trying to get on a tour to Inverness to see Loch Ness and some other sights. Unfortunately it was full, but I decided to go on a day trip anyway. I went down to the train station and jumped on the first train to somewhere decently interesting that followed a scenic route. It turned out to be Perth. The train ride there was really nice. The Scottish countryside is really beautiful, especially along the coast. Although some of it did look distinctly Canadian when it was covered with a blanket of snow.
When I arrived in Perth I had vegetarian breakfast in a greasy spoon. It was disgusting. They served it with deep fried bread (only in Scotland) that oozed grease. I went to visit Huntingtower Castle (as it was the only attraction open) and when I arrived the lady at the information centre informed me that it was booked for a wedding and was closed. She felt really bad though and said I could look around the outside. She accompanied me around the back explaining the history of the castle, and then took me into the second tower because she had to light some candles in there. Then she said I could explore around in there for a while on my own, because the wedding was taking place in the other half of the castle. I even got to wander up on the battlements on the roof. It was neat exploring on my own. When I left, I had to sneak out because two bus loads of wedding guests had arrived and were being piped in. I found the kind lady and thanked her, and she was still apologetic because I couldn’t see the whole castle. She even invited me to have a cup of tea to warm up. The Scots are such nice people.
I did some more Christmas shopping in Perth and then jumped on a train back to Edinburgh. I’m just killing time in an Internet cafe right now before I meet up with Steven at his flat.