10 June 2011

Grayslake Reunion Part I: Edinburgh

Megan and me before senior prom.
Based on my last post, I'm sure you could all tell that I was beyond excited for Janice and Megan to arrive. Let me give you a little background: Megan, Janice, and Elizabeth and I have all been good friends since about freshman/sophomore year of high school. We played volleyball together and that really allowed us to bond. We spent a good chunk of the week reminiscing about when we first met and our early days of friendship. Now, we're closer than ever. Many high school friends drift apart, but we somehow became closer in college. I have some friends from college that dreaded going home over break. Not me! I loved it! From our annual Thanksgiving and Christmas parties to summers spent lazing on Megan's boat and playing sand volleyball with the boys, every moment at home was a blast with these girls.
Elizabeth and me at our confirmation - we look so young!
Since we graduated from college, we've spread out a bit. I moved here, Elizabeth moved to England, Janice to South Carolina, and Megan to Grayslake and then Springfield. It has been hard being apart, but we've managed to stay in touch and maintain our friendship. This trip was a really exciting opportunity for us. It allowed us to bring our best friendships to a new, international level. It's the first time we've all really traveled together, so this week was especially memorable.
Janice and me at one of our many sand volleyball games at Jesse Oaks.

At about 5:30 last Thursday they stepped off the AirLink. After dropping their things off at my apartment, we made our way through the Meadows and campus. It's one thing for me to talk about school, but it's an entirely different thing for them to see it all in person. I was glad I got to show them my school, especially the very old and beautiful buildings that the university has to offer. 

The three of us in Doctors!
After a quick jaunt across the street, we were at my favorite pub, Doctors.While we ate our chicken pie and enjoyed some Crabbies, we chatted away. It was so nice to see them again and we couldn't stop talking. By the time we left it was about 8:15, but have no fear! There was plenty of sunlight left for the day. We were aiming to catch the sunset from Calton Hill at 9:48. (More on the late sunset later) After a quick stop at Tim Riddel's grave in Greyfriars and a visit to Bobby's statue, we slowly made our way to Calton Hill. On the way we also checked out the Scotts Monument, which looked great against the blue sky. Somehow the girls brought amazing weather with them. It was beyond crappy crappy crappy right up until they came, and then BAM! Blue sky. I'm sitting here in my room right now and grimacing at the overcast sky outside my window. The girls had two days in Edinburgh, and they got the two nicest days in the last month.
Waiting for the sun to set.
Calton Hill is always a stop on my tour of Edinburgh. It's one of my favorite spots in the city, especially when the sun is setting. After a short but steep staircase, you're at the top and left to admire the beautiful view. Plus, there are plenty of quirky monuments that you can play on - like the National Monument. It is forever unfinished. After running out of money, they decided to just leave it. It's a rough climb to get on the National Monument, but I highly recommend it. Besides, it is highly entertaining watching others try to get down. It may not be far, but it sure feels like it!
A very zoomed out but cute picture of us on the National Monument.
Meg and me, excited that we made
it onto the National Monument in
one piece!
Fully exploring the self-timer
function on my camera.

Our night ended with a drink at the Pear Tree. This is a pub right by campus with a beer garden. Since the weather was so nice, we couldn't resist. We got home and in bed by midnight, but that didn't mean we actually went to sleep! We hadn't seen each other in person for months, so we had a lot of goofiness and girl talk to catch up on. Despite the lack of sleep, we woke up bright and early the next day, ready to take on the castle. On our way there, we made sure to stop at the Elephant House for breakfast. Although Megan is not the biggest Harry Potter fan, I still consider this to be a must for any tourist. Not only can you feel the magic, but the food and coffee are pretty good.
Getting ready to head inside the castle!
We luckily had perhaps the best tour guide I have ever had at the castle. He was very funny and knowledgeable, so the girls really enjoyed the castle. As I have told you, the castle is a massive place. You can get lost in there for hours, and that's just what we did. 
Jammed together in a guard booth.

Climbing on the canons inside the castle.
After frolicking around the castle for a good long while, we went in search of some lunch. We settled on Deacon Brodie's Tavern for some sandwiches. It was a fairly warm day for here, so we were happy to get out of the sun. I will admit, I got a bit sunburnt. Without a cloud in the sky, I had nothing to protect me against the mostly weak sun. After our food and plenty of water, we were ready to tackle the elements once again. 

The afternoon was spent shopping on the Royal Mile. The girls had plenty of souvenier shopping to do, so I gladly brought them around to the many tourist shops in the area. I may live here, but this is one of my favorite things to do. I love finding something new and quirky and I especially like finding the most ridiculous thing that Scotland has to offer. For example, does anyone really need that highland cow hat? Or those socks with thistles all over them?
We found our very own Braveheart impersonator on the Royal Mile. Huzzah!
After a stop in St. Giles Cathedral, we were ready for dinner. Sami came to meet us at Deacon Brodie's (again!) for dinner. At lunch the fish and chips looked really good, so we faced potential embarrassment and went there for a second time in one day. Turned out that their fish and chips WERE super delicious, and it may be where I bring all of my visitors from here on out. 

After an excruciating walk home in which we all realized we had to go pee 5 minutes in, we began getting ready for our trip down to London to visit Elizabeth. It was another night of late night chatting and giggling. Since we knew we were soon going to be reunited with our long lost fourth member, we were a bit anxious to be on our way already! Make sure to come back again in the next few days to read about our time in London.
A final shot of our little group, enjoying the lit up skyline from Calton Hill.

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