4 July 2013
Happy Independence Day!
Last night when we were dancing at the club I did not realize that the following day (today) was the Fourth of July. As the clock struck midnight Party in the USA started playing and the man over the loudspeaker wished “all us Americans” a happy Independence Day in his British accent. I never imagined that I would ever be celebrating the freedom of our country in the country whom we declared freedom from. I wonder if there are any hard feelings still felt between the Brits and the Americans on such a day! Early this morning they shipped us off to Scotland. It is kind of funny that they put us on a long 8 hour bus ride the day we usually spend partying and celebrating the independence of our country. Anyways I don’t mind because I am stoked to be in Scotland tonight and I am sure that their will be plenty of parties to join in on once we arrive. I have heard that Scotland is beautiful and that it is greener than anything I have or will ever see. I am very excited to experience Scottish culture, be memorized by their accents, listen open eared to the famous bagpipes, and stare wide-eyed at their famous Scottish dances. Scotland will be the 20th country I have been to…of course I am keeping tabs!
Today is one of the first days since I have been in Europe that I have realized there are a few things I miss about Grangeville. One of those things is the traditional Border Days celebration that occurs every year the week of the Fourth of July. It is not a huge celebration, but for the little town where I was raised, this is the celebration that everyone comes home for. People who were influenced by Grangeville at some point in their lives return to celebrate and commune with all the others who too keep the quant town close to their heart. For me, it is a time to go home and catch up with all the people whom were a part of my life growing up. Family, friends, classmates, teachers, church members, etc.. are all there enjoying each others company.
Fountain Abbey is one of the most beautiful places I have visited in all of Europe. I cannot even explain how incredible it is. An Abbey is a monastery for nuns, and many of them dot the landscape of England. During the time when the Catholic Church was being destroyed by the Church of England, many of these Abbeys were left desolate to age in ruins. Today Fountain Abbey is one of these ruins, and it is absolutely miraculous. The further north you go, the greener the countryside gets! The Abbey was in the middle of a giant green field and right near a beautiful lake. As we walked to the ruins we were surrounded by that tall grass that moves in the wind like waves in the sea. It was incredible!
We arrived in Scotland after hours of journeying in a stuffy bus. It was about 8pm when we hopped off in Edinburgh and the first thing I did was head straight to the dinner buffet that was prepared for us. I did not even bother to take my luggage into my room before heading to the cafeteria.
We left to climb to the top of Arthur’s seat the moment we finished gulping down dinner. Scotland is such a beautiful country, so green and clean. We walked from Pollock Halls, where we are staying for the weekend, to the base of the hill/mountain/cliff…I don’t really know what to call it. Every step we took further up the incline only gave us a better and better view of our surroundings and the city beneath us. It is such an incredible feeling to physically and mentally feel yourself ascend to the top of such something so beautiful. We had a large group of us who climbed all the way to the top, several who stayed for longer to explore an alternate route down, and then four of us who decided to venture out on yet another hike as the sun began to disappear. At 11pm the sun was still not fully down. That blows my mind. We are so far north right now…when I google mapped Edinburgh it showed that it is right across from the bottom of Sweden, that is pretty far north. I am so excited to see what the next few days have in store. Edinburgh is the home of Queen Mary of Scots, one of my direct decedents, and several of her castles still stand in the city today. The plan is tomorrow to go on a day hike to some beautiful Scottish place, and the next day to spend the day going to all the historical sights of Queen Mary of Scots. It is going to be a great weekend!