Edinburgh: Day One

Nearly 4,000 miles later, we made it to Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital city. How did I celebrate? 

I spit on the sidewalk. 

After our group of 15 hungry folks enjoyed our first Scottish lunch at The Royal McGregor (a small restaurant on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh), we trekked west towards a lane of cashmere shops, pubs, and gothic churches. Just outside of the St. Giles Cathedral there is a small spot where the cobblestone bricks lay in a heart formation. It marks a public execution site from the 1500s, and while spitting on the center of the heart was, historically, a sign of distaste for the prisoners, now Edinburghians believe that to sling saliva into the center of the heart is good luck. 

And there was no way I wanted our group pass up that opportunity for good fortune. So, though we were about fifteen paces away from the heart and had moved on to the next site, when I realized no one had spat there, I spun around, lined up, and hocked a big one.

This small slice of cobblestone is only one of the cultural gems we experienced on our first day in this metropolis of 490,000 people. The quirky attitude and friendly interactions, the double-decker buses and a parade complete with bagpipers – we were fortunate today to be able to breathe in all things Edinburgh. Things like the Heart of Midlothian set this place apart; as my travelmate Andrew Eilola put it: “Scotland is distinct.” And Justine Kapitzke called it “curious and curiouser.” Based on all the funky, vibrant advertisements I saw for concerts and benefit events plastered around the city, I’d call this place hip. And Laura Kuisle, who was the first brave soul in the group to order, eat, and enjoy haggis (a Scottish delicacy of ground sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs), might agree that this city carries with it a flavor we’ve never experienced. 

In other words, we’re ready to discover more.

My travel colleagues have mentioned some of the subcultures they are interested in studying for their ethnographic essay, and their thoughts alone should keep you reading this blog all month. But we’ll be up to so much more during our time here. In addition to our ethnographic observations, we’ll explore more of the city by foot and maybe by bike. We’ll find all the best Indian restaurants (since Scotland is known for its grade A curry). We’ll travel to the highlands and later to Glasgow, and then in a month, we’ll traverse the 4000 miles again to get home.

For now, it’s probably a good thing we spit on that sidewalk.

Blogged by Steph Barnhart 


The Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh, Scotland.  

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