Does vacation make me a morning person?

Hello, Internet, it’s Monday, March 21st, and I think vacation might make me a morning person.

Case in point: I have gotten up the past 2 days at 7am, because I had to get on a train/go rent a car (more on that later). In neither case was I reluctant to get out of bed. On Saturday, that might have had something to do with my desire to get as far away from the vomiting mess of a man in a nearby bunk (he was at a stag party, came back to the hostel loudly at 2:30am, and threw up from 3:30 to 5:00 in the toilet, in his UPPER BUNK, and on the floor of the bathroom), but on Sunday I was honest to goodness awake before the alarm. And TODAY, I lounged in bed, got up, dressed, handwashed my long underwear, came downstairs, checked some addresses for post cards, did some research on things I might want to do here in Edinburgh, and written this far into this post, PLUS I am eating breakfast, and it is not quite 8am.

So, the weekend.

Saturday morning, I left York (wonderful, beautiful, museums-in-the-basements York) with my friend Kristin and went to Inverness. And I know that in Canada we laugh at people on this side of the Atlantic for thinking that a 2-hour train ride constitutes a long ways away, but York is, like, Right Next to Scotland, and Inverness is 6 hours away by train! Anyway, we arrived at around 2:30 and went for a walk, which is pretty much all there is to do in Inverness. The town does have lots (LOTS) of churches, and unlike in York, where everything is at least 500 years old, everything in Inverness is only about 300 years old, making it extremely modern by comparison.

Sunday we rented a car and I drove us to Urquhart Castle, on Loch Ness. And let me say this: I’m not really sure why they let North Americans rent cars in the UK without a mandatory driving class. That driving class would cover these subjects: 1) Driving on the left. 2) Operating a gear shift with your left hand. 3) Circular road signs with diagonal lines on them and their meanings. 4) Roundabouts.

This is the first time I’ve ever been to the UK and been old enough to rent a car without paying through the nose for it. And I am SO GLAD it was early Sunday morning.

So, we drove to Loch Ness, which is startlingly close to the city, considering how impossible it was to get there without renting a car. We did not see a monster. In fact, we did not even try to see a monster. We determinedly avoided the “Nessie” museums and went, instead, to Urquhart Castle. There is an excellent interpretation centre there, including an 8-minute film in which they go from St. Columba in the 6th century to the Jacobite Rebellion in the 18th century. Admitedly, there are some holes in the story, but really, very well done. Plus, right at the end, they raise the screen and open the curtains to reveal the castle. Cheesy, but effective.

So Kristin and I spent the morning enjoying Loch Ness from the cliff where the castle is perched, walking around the ruins, and generally raving about how much fun we were having. Then we went in search of a stone circle… but that didn’t work at all, so we wound up at Culloden Moor.

If you do not share my obsession with history, you might not know that Culloden was the site of the battle that effectively put an end to the Jacobite Rebellion (the Scots wanted James Stewart to be king, and the English king was opposed). Think the Normandy beaches, but 200-some years earlier. And also, when you go to Normandy, it’s presented as “this is where the Allies sacrificed their lives to save France,” and at Culloden, it’s “this is where the Clans are buried, thousands died for a freedom they could not win, and after this battle, Scotland was oppressed for a hundred years.” Eerie. Beautiful. A bit overwhelming.

Then we took the train back down to Edinburgh (Kristin went on to York, because she has a meeting this morning), and I found some advertising for a ghost walk, so I went.

OMG SCARIEST GHOST WALK EVER. For serious. I haven’t been legitimately scared while listening to ghost stories since I was a kid. More stories need to be told in vaults. And Thank Goodness for dormitory-style sleeping arrangements. If I had been alone in my room, I don’t think I would’ve done well.

And now, Internet, my breakfast is eaten, my tea is drunk, and the sun (the SUN!) is out, so I’m off to continue enjoying my vacation.