This weekend’s trip was Edinburgh, Scotland, but let me first touch on the play I saw last week and my visit to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Tuesday evening I saw Enron, an exciting musical that tells the true story of the Texas corporation, Enron’s fall into bankruptcy. Although I was at first skeptical the production would succeed in making economics interesting, I found myself awed and more knowledgeable by the end of the play. The playwright Lucy Prebble smartly wrote the play so that the average person could understand the complexities behind what caused the corporation’s downfall; her creativity pared with director Rupert Goold’s imagination and an impressive performance by the cast resulted in an unforgettable evening. The lighting effects were fantastic, setting the mood with cylindrical lights which changed color, rising and falling between each scene. There was even a dance with light sabers and an eye popping electrocution scene. While some felt parts of the play were anti-American, the images seemed truthful and I only found myself uncomfortable when Enron’s downfall was compared with the falling of the Twin Towers. However, I discovered this was an actual comparison Enron made when commenting on its decline into bankruptcy which put the corporation in an even darker light for me. Overall, I liked the play and would probably see it again if I had the time because I don’t think I caught all the details of the production. There was so much involved in each scene, I found little time to reflect on what was happening before a new issue or complexity arose! On a final note, the play is coming to Broadway so it will be interesting to see what America thinks. The accents will certainly be better!
Thursday I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral with my Contemporary Britain class and unfortunately I forgot my camera. We climbed to the very top (over 300 stairs) and the view was stunning! I was able to see an amazing 360-degree view of the city and there was a nice spring breeze which made me want to stay there until sunset! The cathedral doesn’t open early or close late enough for visitors to see sunrise or sunset, but the view is memorable just the same and also the highest point in the city. Inside the architecture is beautiful and at the east end of the Cathedral, behind the High Altar, is the American Memorial Chapel which commemorates the American soldiers stationed in Britain who lost their lives during WWII. After seeing the Cathedral, I returned to my homestay and got ready for my trip to Edinburgh!
I took an overnight bus that evening, which was a nine-hour ride but not as bad as it sounds. Katie and I arrived at 8:30 Friday morning and after dropping off our bags at the hostel, we headed toward the castle. It was enormous and there was a lot of interesting information and exhibitions set up inside the castle, but I found the wax representations of people somewhat eerie. Fortunately there were real people there too, and we learned a lot about war in Scotland and the reason behind wearing kilts from an enthusiastic volunteer, who was dressed in the traditional kilt outfit.
After spending a few hours there, we met up with Katie’s friend Nic so he could show us around the city. Unfortunately it was freezing and rained all day Friday, so after borrowing some coats and umbrellas from Nic (we had left ours at the hostel), we headed out into the pouring rain and decided to spend some time in one of the National Galleries. There were paintings from your typical famous artists such as Monet and Van Gogh and I enjoyed everything I saw, though I admit I could not understand the purpose of many the pieces. I’m also wondering why it was so difficult for artists to paint babies. I came across numerous works with normal people dressed in colorful clothing, but would find my eye drawn to the large, lumpy and disfigured naked baby at the center of the painting! Maybe the artists didn’t find babies perfect nor beautiful, and I’ll admit most babies have squashed little faces when born along with sweet rolls of baby fat; however, the ones in the paintings looked as if they had rocks or muscles protruding from their bodies instead!
So the castle and gallery were the main sites we saw that day due to the rain and we headed back to our hostel to rest before going out to dinner. Nic took us to a place with traditional Scottish food and I tried haggis, which is a sausage dish made of a sheep’s heart liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suite, spices and salt, and mixed with stock. Oh, and did I mention it is traditionally simmered in the animal’s stomach for three hours? Now it may sound gross, but you never know until you try, and I thought it was delicious!
Saturday we woke up to sunny skies, so Nic jumped on the opportunity to take us on a hike up a mountain, Arthur’s Seat. Now I assumed this would be like a hike up Tinker Mountain, no big deal right? Wrong! It was quite steep from the start and took us a lot longer, but we met our reward at the top. The view was wonderful and I felt so refreshed and accomplished! Then we headed back down, which was much quicker but not any better on my knees. To say the least, I felt like I had just played a game against Ferrum the next day. So the mountain was our big site and we walked around the city some more, did some tourist shopping and had Mexican food for dinner! Katie and I had both been craving it since we left the States so we were thrilled to eat our quesadillas and tacos.
Our bus left at eleven Sunday morning and we awoke to more rain. The bus ride back seemed much longer, but that may have been due to the fact that I was sore and wet! Nevertheless, I had a fantastic time and the people were extremely friendly. On our way to our hostel we had two different people point us in the right direction without us even asking. We must have looked really lost!