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Do I Even Edin-bruh? I May Have 99 Problems, But You Know I’m Always Still Having Fun.

Getting pickpocketed at the tube station? Check. Having your phone malfunction due to a fluke rain accident? Check. Your sunglasses breaking when they’re in a secure case? Check-o. Your retainer case breaking at the end of the night post-trying to figure out your phone debacle? Check yet again.

Think of most scenarios you wish would not happen to you when you’re studying abroad. Ok well, minus the Taken episode in which Liam Neeson would come and find you. This weekend Ellie, Taryn, Claud and I went on our lovely trip to Edinburgh

and once again, another challenge testing my acuity at handling situations as an independent young adult occurred. Let’s start from Wednesday.

Beautiful and innocent and tragic. Racing to and engrossing ourselves in our 7:30pm showing of Les Mis at the Queen’s Theatre near Chinatown was every bit as tear-inducing as the last time I saw this musical production. Jean Valjean at the end. The entire musical. Stars. I Dreamed a Dream. On My Own. The actress who played Eponine had the most phenomenal voice. She sang with such power but also with the utmost ease, as if all the words simply poured out of her. And apparently she’s 20 as well. Wow. Such a talent. I believe she’ll be playing Kim in Miss Saigon this fall on Broadway! Oh how I wish I could see Anastasia on Broadway. Rach and I will just have to sing “At the Begin

ning” and “Journey to the Past” to ourselves in the meantime.

Earlier that day we went on two walks in and around London-town. First was a spontaneous route in Soho where we stumbled upon Burberry’s deconstructed workshop that was open to t


Obviously had to capture this one for Carter

he public since they’d already had their show for Fashion Week. Um, yes, we all totally jumped onto that detour in our tour and checked out the military-esque fashions. After class we went on a “Street Art Walk” of Shoreditch. All of the artwork was so vibrant and felt truly ingrained into the fabric of the borough within London. Growing up in LA, unfortunately there was a stigma in regards to graffiti, but here, a work of graffiti and street art is considered the work of an artist. I love that mentality, for all the works we did see were beautiful and unique. And


A regal, deep violet hue

we saw a house Keira Knightley once lived in–have to give a shout-out to Elizabeth Bennet since I’m currently reading Pride & Prejudice!

Thursday called for a fab history lesson on The Beatles, or at least part 1 of our series on the mega-band. On our way home though, rushing, mind you, to catch our bus to get to Stansted for our evening flight, we witnessed a crash on Waterloo Bridge. It was terrifying. All of the sudden 2 bikes were tossed aside and a girl was lying unconscious on the ground. Thank goodness a crowd surrounded and calls were made to 911. Even more so that the bus stopped so as not to run over the swarm of people and that she woke up. But man, to think of something you do every day like crossing the street turning into the cause of a horrendous situation the next. Well, more on that later….

Anyhow, EDINBURGH!!!!!!!!

Edinburgher. Edin-bruh. Edin-butter (but with a rolling r-esque pronunciation). Don’t believe there is a “proper” way to say the city’s name. I think it’s regional. Regardless, we had a fun time te

sting all of our theories out this weekend.

Stayed in a hostel for the first time, and I actually enjoyed my experience for the most part. Aside from dropping my towel in the shower twice, the mattress was pretty solid, and the girls in our room (8 girls total) were respectful of each other’s space and when/

when not to turn the lights on. Plus, the place was only to sleep, so who cares? And we got discounts at the café next door, so can’t complain there. And I had some delicious porridge to boot! Apparently the Scots are famous for their oats, but tbh, they tasted just the same as here in the UK and back at home in LA (but don’t tell them I said so).

Ok so first day we went to the Nati

onal Gallery of Scotland and saw some UNREAL paintings. Titian. THE Diana and Actaeon I had seen photos of in Habinek’s PPT for Greek Mythology class last semester but now in its actual Flemish painting form. WOW. I’ve discovered how much of a fan I am of landscape paintings, the ability to capture a setting or expanse of land or moment in nature that is so breathtaking that one simply has to transfer the image to canvas. Claud nudged me when she saw one of the Isle of Skye–since I’m dying to go visit there one day (but preferably in summer because Scotland is COLD and WINDY!).

Oh and there was one painting entitled “The Three Ages of Man” by Titian that was my absolute favorite: the innocence of the babies upon whom Cupid is trampling, falling in

love, then the old man contemplating his life and his fate while looking at a skull à la Hamlet with a church in the distance promising salvation beyond. When my phone fiasco happened, I was most devastated that I would have lost this photo. But luckily, I was able to save my photos TODAY so things do turn out ok in the end.

We wandered all through the gallery until we emerged outdoors to hike it up along the

Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle! The juxtaposition of the architecture within the city is amazing. Edinburgh certainly earns its epithet of “the Athens of the North,” as this medieval structure sits atop the bustling modern metropolis below. But just as easily, if there weren’t any of the tourist trap shops along the Royal Mile or in Cowgate, one could see a man in a kilt riding his horse (like Jamie from Outlander, perhaps?) down the cobblestone streets and it would seem perfectly natural. You truly feel like you’re transported into another world when you’re in Edin

burgh. No wonder J.K. Rowling was inspired to write Harry Potter during her time there!

Speaking of which, next we went to The Elephant House. The famous café where J.K. would sit down to write the first HP novel!!! Ordered a quiche, fairly decent. The most exciting part of the shop was seeing all the awesome notes and messages fans have left for J.K. over the years in the bathrooms. Dumbledore’s Army. Always. Lumos. The

standards, to be sure, but also some cheeky ones regarding Ron Weasley. I’ll leave it to your keen eyesight to find the phrase scrawled somewhere on the door.

And after we went to Greyfriars Churchyard to find the grave of “Tom Riddell” (spelled differently), which we finally did after scouring through numerous tombstones. The sky was overcast, and it all felt very eerie but also reminded me of the scene in Hocus Pocus where Benny (SJP’s ex-boyfriend in the film) is raised from his grave as a zombie. Maybe it’s an underlying awareness for

all things autumnal since we’re inching towards Halloween.

To top off our long day, we scurried to “the Meadows”–basically a flat grassland–but Ellie was specifically told to read the letter her friend had left for her within a drawer at The Elephant House

in this locale, so obviously this was our next stop on our Edinburgh tour. How sweet they are to have left messages for each other, and how truly special. Those types of human connections are the most valuable treasures there can be in this world. We’ll have to he

lp Ellie choose the next letter-drop location!

Saturday was the day of my phone’s demise. We’d scheduled to go on a free tour up to the Highlands called “The Hairy Coo Tour.” FYI coo means cow in Scotland. And boy the ones

we saw were certainly hairy.

We stopped at The Forth Road Bridge and the National Wallace Monument, which totally enthralled Claudia because she loves Braveheart. Although, we did learn that “bleed on, my brave heart” was not in reference to William Wallace’s heart, but to Robert the Bruce’s!

We stopped for photo-ops in front of/below Stirling Castle

(can never get enough castles) and looking out on the Lake of Menteith. For lunch we went to a home-baked shop in Aberfoyle where I had a very UK lunch of a buttered roll with a fried egg, tattie scone (fried potato

scone–like a hash brown), and black pudding and it was AWESOME. I was in Scotland. A healthy diet was not opportune, nor did I mind all that much.

The weather was pretty muggy, but our trusty weather apps had said it probably wouldn’t rain. Oh technology, how you fail us sometimes. We stopped in a small clearing to try to get a view of the mountains, but the mist blocked views of any scenery one would be able to see far off, which was kind of a bust but the surrounding

landscape still looked beautiful. I mean, we were in SCOTLAND! It’s not like you can see nature like this every day!

But then, oh no. The coos. All I wanted to do was capture a moment of me feeding good old Fiona a piece of bread. Their tongues were NASTY by the way. With blue spots all over and so long, my gosh! Ick. Claudia managed to get

some pretty good shots of the encounter (and let me download all her photos from the trip onto my computer because she’s an angel and I love her).

But when I tried (thanks to my most protective “As If” phone case) to take a photo of Fiona and her pals, too much rain seemed to pour down onto my precious phone and the sensor stopped working. I could not “slide to unlock” on my phone. Then lines started appearing. Then some black on the bottom with green on the top. Then the same black with some pink. Then it shut off. Nothing. I tried wiping my phone down as best as I could but nothing. WHY. I was so protective of all my things, not leaving my backpack on the bus, locking up and keeping my things securely near me in the hostel dorm. The 20 SECONDS maybe I had my

phone out some sneaky droplets seep into my phone to create another miserable hassle to endure? UGH. THAT was a joy. And everyone else had their phones out too! I concede that my mom was right about the necessity of an OtterBox all along.

I was fairly bummed after that horror when we made our way to Loch Katrine–Sir Walter Scott’s basis for “The Lady of the Lake.” Our tour guide insisted that walking along the path, we would see the loch “really open up for us.” Despite my phone-induced depression, I


Phone buried within the baggy

obviously took a mental account of how gorgeous and sprawling the waters and wildlife were. Wow. I could imagine taking walks along that path every day. Maybe become a lady of the lake myself? Nah not so much.

The last stop was supposed to be Doune Castle. Casual GoT pilot filming location. And you know, CASTLE LEOCH ON OUTLANDER. I was so stoked to go there, but that venture was CANCELLED because the town of Doune was closed. Due to filming? DISAPPOINTED. Like that video that circulated around the internet freshman year. Definitely felt like that wasn’t my world. So phone + no Jamie Fraser-land = quite the unhappy bus ride.

On the way back we tried going to the Apple Store to no avail and bought some rice. LOL that did not help I don’t think even though we left it in there for at least 1 day and a half. I am technologically ignorant.

Ellie left the next morning (bye, El), and we went on our hike to Arthur’s Seat!!!!!! But before our excursion into nature, I discovered at breakfast that the one of the wings of my

glasses had fallen off and the screw to hold it in place were both in my case. REALLY. SOMETHING ELSE?!

I ran to the hostel front desk (which as I said, was right next door), and the guy laughed in my face about how small the screw was and there was no way he could fix it. But then, I saw a Specsavers across the street and the wonderful woman with the pink hair literally SAVED MY SPECS. She’s a goddess. She fixed the wing, tightened up the other side, and cleaned them! I was so grateful that

at least something was going right that I hugged her and thanked her profusely, but something didn’t feel right as I walked out.

I asked Claudia and Taryn if I should have tipped her and realized I needed to repay the kindness of this awesome person. So I ran around trying to get change from shopkeepers (nope) until I found some in my wallet. I went back to Specsavers and asked for the woman with the pink hair. When she came out I handed her the change saying I had to find some money, but she was so

shocked and surprised and wouldn’t accept it at first. I insisted and felt so good thanking her for her kindness. That was the best money I spent on my trip, no doubt.

Strangely enough though, Arthur’s Seat has nothing to do with King Arthur (at least I don’t believe so, right?). But WOW WOW WOW the views from up there were AMAZING. I cannot express how windy the weather was (windbreaker jackets exist for a reason, folks), but also how thrilling it was to see all of Edinburgh sprawled out below you.

The steps were quite the incline (worked out my glutes though!), and I felt such a rush of adrenaline and excitement once we finally reached the top. Tons of tourists and locals alike congregated there for photos and just to take in the world below. I could have been on Olympus considering how elated I felt and how elevated above the ground I was. It seems like my fear of heights is slowly fading away as I grow older.


After our long walk back to the front of Holyrood Park, we were super hungry and headed over to Holyrood 9A (on Andrea’s rec for the best haggis she had in Edinburgh!). I had one of the longest order requests ever (but our waitress was lovely and seemed to find my Sally

moment amusing), but indeed over cider and sweet potato fries, I ate my first morsels of haggis–in burger form.

Please don’t ask me what exactly is in haggis, as I still can’t 100% relay what the contents are aside from sheep organs, but it wasn’t so bad, in fact! It tasted like burger meat to me, although I don’t think I’d get it again unless I were in Scotland (can you even get it anywhere else aside from Scotland?). But I would have sorely regretted not trying this staple of Scottish food traditions, so I’m very

proud of myself for being so adventurous in my food consumption! Check my Facebook page for footage of me trying this haggis dish if you so choose.

The next day we ate breakfast at Mimi’s Little Bakehouse, and I had a splendid array of baked goods including a cheese scone and coconut fudge-y brownie. NOM. We ventured to Holyrood Palace–the Queen’s humble abode when she’s in Edinburgh. First we perused the Queen’s Gallery and then the Palace itself, where I learned more of Mary Queen of Scots’ history aside from

her marriage to Francis the Dauphin of France (which I learned from Reign, obviously). Jokes aside, her life was so devastating and tumultuous. We saw the spot where her Italian secretary David Rizzio was murdered by her second husband! The wooden floor still had red stains in that spot….

The Abbey behind the palace is such a marvelous sight as well. More grandiose than Inch Abbey where I was crowned Queen in the North, I have to say. And the architecture. The torn down discolored archways and pebbles lining the pathways. Walking in this former monastery filled me with such an awareness that I was on holy ground, and it was such a soothing sensation.


Our last supper, or linner rather, in Edinburgh was at The Baked Potato Shop, where I got a yummy starchy lunch but with some quinoa and beet salad on top! Some veg and color,


But once I finally arrived back at my flat, the reality of my phone not working hit me. Truth be told, I did not really mind not using my phone all weekend aside from the inability to take photos (but thanks to friends photos were indeed taken of all our fun moments). It was more the tendency of everyone else to be on their phones so often that was striking. I suppose that’s just the reality we live in in the year 2016. A sign at The Elephant House said that they don’t have wifi, inviting customers to “pretend like it’s 1995 and actually talk to each other”–to paraphrase. I found that pretty telling, actually, and now looking back, quite the foreshadowing moment for my Saturday hazardous affair.

I made an appointment for the Genius Bar for today, but I still tried after class yesterday to

see if I could at least ask someone there in the Covent Garden shop if they could discern if my phone were fixable or otherwise. No one would assist me (thanks so much), but Justin and Claudia, who so kindly came with me for moral support, and I did make a fun day out of it by trying DISHOOM!

Oh my what DELECTABLE Indian food. I haven’t had the best experiences with Indian food, or probably just haven’t had any good Indian food before, but man, I am definitely bringing my parents there when they come to visit and am going back with my friends. Our waiter was lovely and helped us pick out dishes since we were clearly struggling with the menu. I had a chicken dish, vegetable samosas, and naan—YUM! Our waiter also gave Justin and Claudia free chai tea since they wanted to try some after seeing mine, AND he sent us the house specialty lentil dish that we were asking about FOR FREE in order for us to have the best experience possible. What customer service! We had such a great time, and I was so full for the rest of the day. 


Today was the fateful day I was to receive answers about my phone. My class ran late, unfortunately, so I sprinted at 1:10pm to make my 1:15pm appointment. Now THAT’S what I call a work-out. I made it by 1:20pm and ended up having to wait a good half hour anyway. Claud stayed with me for as long as she could, since our group had a tour of the Tower of London scheduled for this afternoon. I went 5 years ago with my family and may go again with them when they visit, but I didn’t want Claud to miss this enriching experience she was so excited about! Plus Ruth was guiding the tour! So, I told her to go while I


Me finally being able to listen to music on my walk home from the Apple Store

was helped by the exceedingly gracious and helpful Mirabelle. She’s AMAZING. She revived my phone for the short-term until my new phone comes (at quite the reasonable price thanks to her finagling skills!!!!!!!! THANK YOU) in up to 2 weeks.

But moral of the story, like Shakespeare says, all’s well that ends well. So, do I even Edin-bruh? You know, I think I do. I would totally go back to Edinburgh. And I’m dying to return to Scotland anyway and head up north to see Inverness, Loch Ness, and as I have often lauded, the Isle of Skye. Hello, how could I not have a love for the region that graced my heart with Outlander?!?!?

I walked out of the Apple Store today with such a smile on my face. We saw Curious Incident a few weeks ago, and at the end of the play, the protagonist Christopher asks if he can do anything. Christopher, I have an answer for you. ANYONE can. I’m becoming more and more confident in my capabilities and resilience as I’m figuring out how to live on my own and so far from my family for the first time. I can handle whatever comes my way. Like Kester said in the series 2 finale of My Mad Fat Diary that I watched today: “Just tell yourself everything is going to be ok, and it will be.” He is RIGHT. Everything is. Everything will be.

What’s next, London? I’m ready for you.

Cheers, Tara xx

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