Yesterday I wrote about the beginning of our free day and today you get to read about the rest of our adventures that day. As we were wandering down the Royal Mile, we came across the cutest little boutique called Miss Katie Cupcake. They had the most adorable jewelry and other little things I have ever seen! Seriously, you need to click on that link above. All of the things that are made for the store are so detailed and unique, I loved every last one of them!
A little further up the road we relaxed a little as we stopped to watch a crazy street performer. He swallowed two whole long balloons without them popping, but that wasn’t even the craziest part. He put himself in a straightjacket and had two audience members tie him up with chains, and then he wiggled his way out of it! (He was double-jointed from some surgery he had gotten in the past). We also saw some harp players right on the street.. that is definitely not something you see in Chicago!
It was almost time for dinner so we split up to go eat at different places. My friend and I went to find someplace to eat and stopped at The Elephant House on our way. That is the cafe where J.K. Rowling worked on parts of Harry Potter.
We ended up going back to Grassmarket and eating at a pub called The White Hart Inn. We had been wanting to try haggis so we ordered the special haggis nachos appetizer to split (yes, we played it very safe but at least we gave it a try). It was delicious! As long as you don’t think about what it is you’re actually eating then it’s great! (I’ll leave the real identity of haggis a mystery for you to find out, only if you dare).
Next we headed back to the Royal Mile to Mary King’s Close to do a ghost tour. A close is just a narrow street or alley that comes off of the High Street, which is the street that formed the spine of the town. The tour takes you underground where you get to see the old Edinburgh from the 1600s. In 1645 the great plague hit Edinburgh, and looking at the many years leading up to the plague it is easy to see why. More and more people were crowding the city of Edinburgh, and sanitation was definitely not the specialty of people back then. People used to live in small one-room huts with dirt floors, unless they were very rich. They did not have plumbing back then so the whole family would go to the bathroom in a bucket that would be left in the corner of the room. But the bucket couldn’t be dumped out just at any time of the day because people would be out on the streets during the day. They could only dump it once in the morning and once at night at specific times. So everyone would open their doors at the same time and throw their waste into the street. The city was built on a hill so it would all run down to the bottom of the hill, which is why the richer you were the higher up the hill you lived. The “lake” the waste formed at the bottom of the hill was used as a form of punishment… some criminals would be drowned in it! The dumping of human waste obviously did not smell pretty, so the city began to reek. It makes sense that a lack of plumbing, bathing, and other unsanitary practices would cause diseases to be spread through the city.
In 1753 the city of Edinburgh that is there today was built on top of the old, disease-ridden Edinburgh. The old city was used to support the new buildings. Parts of the underground closes are now used for tours such as this Mary King’s Close tour. It was an incredible experience, and it was so interesting to hear true stories of people who used to live in the same buildings we were standing in hundreds of years ago. It is definitely something you need to do if you are ever in Edinburgh!
Today was definitely a great work out and it felt great to sit down at the end of the day. But such a long day also made for a great day- one of my favorites from the entire trip. Last day in Scotland tomorrow, but still so much fun ahead of us!