As ashamed as I am to admit this, Scotland was not really at the top of my “need to see” travel list. But when I was outnumbered by my friends in our last Euro trip, I agreed because any adventure is an adventure. But boy was I wrong to not initially be interested in this amazing, bone-chilling, fairytale country.
Edinburgh is a perfect little medival architectural city seeping history at the seams. Wait, no, not just at the seams but out of its’ freaking underground city tunnels. Everything about Scotland captivated me. The bag pipe players on the street, the Scottish accents, the kilts (yes, kilts, some men actually wear them!!). Scotland is literally out of a story book. I mean, it’s national animal is a unicorn.
We stayed at the St. Christopher’s Inn hostel by Waverly Station. The hostel was everything you would expect and more. It was clean, friendly and had two pubs on either side! Plus, the pub had an open mic night and the bartender gave me a shot for singing Happy Birthday. Let me tell you, singing is not my forte.
Anyway, apparently the norm in Edinburgh as a tourist is to wander in and out of creepy, beautiful, old grave yards and go on haunted night walks. During the day we wandered around Greyfriars Kirkyard. Greyfriars Kirkyard is a picturesque cemetery packed with bones and history. It is claimed to be the most haunted graveyard in the world, home of the spirit of a loyal dog and inspiration for many of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter character names as her infamous writing spot The Elephant House has a window facing Greyfriars Kirkyard.
The cemetery is allegedly haunted by George MacKenzie, aka the MacKenzie Poltergeist. This poltergeist is allegedly violent, aggressive and ever-present. George MacKenzie was a ruthless persecutor of the Scottish Covenanters through the Covenanters’ Prison. The primarily outdoor prison, which is attached to the back south wall of the Kirkyard, held approximately 1200 people of a failed anti-government resolution in 1679. Apparently the Covenanters Prison was so brutal that some Edinburgh residents call it the first concentration camp.A tour guide informed us that the prisoners were forced to lay on the cold ground during four months of Scottish winter, only eating enough to keep organs alive. After George MacKenzie’s death, his mausoleum was built beside the prison. You can look up the MacKenzie Poltergeist and how it came to be here.
Anyway, my sick and twisted friends demanded we go on a haunted night tour. We chose to go with a walking tour with City of the Dead and when our tour guide started talking, I started panicking. We were going to go into the Covenanters Prison and sit around and wait for the MacKenzie poltergeist to do something. I guess that getting scratched, potentially passing out and feeling like you’re being attacked is a norm. I told my friends to screw themselves (to put it nicely) and that I was going to go back to the hostel. But, because they are charming little manipulative angels, I went on the walk. And I was gracious to find the amount of history embedded into the paranormal stories. Our guide took us into the underground vaults and city then into Greyfriars Kirkyard. I managed to make it through the entire tour without peeing my pants and/or being viciously attacked by a poltergeist. However, my best friend cam home and found strange bruises covering her arms and legs.
Greyfriars Kirkyard is also home to Greyfriars Bobby. A sweet tale about a loyal dog who stood by his deceased owner’s grave for 14 years until his death.
Although I only spent about a day and a half in this amazing place, Edinburgh sparked a fire in my heart with all of it’s gothic architecture, Scottish accents, vibrant personalities and bone-chilling wind and stories. I can’t wait to go back one day and explore it further and more in-depth. It is definitely a must see!
Have any of you been to Edinburgh?! What would you recommend! What was your favourite place?! Let me know, wanderlusters!
Stay tuned for my blog post about the magical and enchanting experience in the Scottish Highlands and the Isle of Skye!