Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Feel It In My Fingers, I Feel It In My Toes...

It's Christmas season! I'm not just saying that because the holiday is 26 days away, but because Edinburgh is forcing the festive cheer upon us! The day after Thanksgiving is usually when I get into the holiday spirit, using a gingerbread latte to help digest all that turkey. I have to admit that the closest I got to a Thanksgiving dinner over here was a bagel sandwich stuffed with brie and cranberry jam. It was pretty pathetic and made me wonder if the upcoming holiday would be lackluster as well. I need not have worried because Europe is where half the Christmas traditions originated from. There are more cookies to eat than usual. I dunno how I'll keep up other than buying a pair of jeans in the next size up haha.
The first of these traditions is the German Christmas Market. Basically they are a more festive version of the State Fair with carnival games, rides, knickknacks for sale, and fattening delicious food. You have to pick your poison: enough sugar to induce a diabetic coma (or in my case, massive sugar high), mulled wine (hot red wine combined with spices), or something savory like a pretzel or a crepe (who am I kidding though? That's not a legitimate meal either.) I went for a waffle drizzled in vanilla sauce and generously covered with black cherries. Not the healthiest lunch I've ever eaten, but utterly scrumptious.
Of course after eating all the food you have to go on a nauseating carnival ride. My friends and I chose the ferris wheel. I cannot decide what is more of an abomination, the ferris wheel or the Sir Walter Scott Monument?

Four pounds later we got on the rickety and rusting wheel hoping it wouldn't plummet us into busy Princes Street or the gardens. But after a few minutes our fear numbed as well as our fingers and we noticed the stunning view.

[The sea!]
[The Castle]
[The Balmoral Hotel and Calton Hill]
[The Divinity School above and the National Gallery below]
Since the Christmas Market is has snowed 14 inches, my German friend made baked apples, and my flatmates and I plan on making mulled wine. It's Christmas after all!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Return of the Mustard Beret

>I'm sorry I haven't updated this blog in nearly a month. In the past few weeks I've lived in the library, barricading myself with books about Joseph Conrad or medieval animals for essay writing. When I'm not trying to point out literary allusions, I'm pointing out famous statues to the many visitors I've had. Two friends from Minnesota visited in the same week around the end of October. It was great to see them and try out every cafe around town, but when my overcaffeinated week ended the essays hit. Now I'm emerging from the essay fueled delirium (I felt almost tipsy after turning one of them in this past Monday) and ready for another round of visitors. My parents! I'm looking forward to seeing them, having a few nice dinners, and introducing them to the sights and gale force winds of Edinburgh.

That brings me to the topic of this post, heat is a myth here! When I first saw the scarf around the famous Greyfriar's Bobby statue a few weeks back (it was only on for a few hours sadly), I chuckled, snapped a picture, but still opted for an extra cardigan instead of turning the heat on in my flat. I thought, "Well I'm a Minnesotan. Until the governor cancels school due to windchill, it's not cold out!" I would check the forecast each morning and see the 40F high and think winter won't be so bad here, except for the darkness that descends at 3:30pm, I can handle this. Little did I know, that gale force winds (I'm not hyperbolizing for once) aren't typically written in the forecast. But when I found myself walking to a pub night with friends DIAGONALLY to avoid getting blown over, I knew I was mistaken. The wind doesn't just displace me, but also hundreds of seagulls who get blown into the Meadows (the park right by my flat), miles away from the beach. As if walking to a class where you essay could be returned any day now wasn't ominous enough, now I feel like the protagonist of "The Birds."

It was time to turn on the heat. So I pressed the button and eagerly awaited a blast of warmth that was so small it wouldn't even warm up a chipmunk. Apparently I'm not the only one of friends who has this problem. So just like the entire city smells like hops after it rains, no one gets heat when they actually need it. Funny how much conversation revolves around the weather here just like back home. Therefore I've concluded that heated flats are a myth, just like the Loch Ness Monster. Actually Nessie probably exists rather than a radiator that works.

[Yes, I dressed up as mustard the condiment for Halloween again.]

Now, I push the heating button when I want a laugh and rely on my trusty mustard yellow beret to keep me warm. Yes, the famous beret lives on and yesterday some guy shouted that he liked my hat from a moving car...trying to see that as a compliment, not creepy. For once I'm wearing the beret as a legitimate way to make sure my ears don't fall off, not as a fashion accessory. Yup, I'm definitely in Scotland.