Sunday, August 31, 2008

Trippin', part 2

This is a continuation of my last post about my recent Euro trip...

After Croatia, Al and I headed to Cologne, Germany for a day. We stayed in a lovely hotel right in front of the Dom Cathedral, this big Gothic church that towers over the city. The plaza in front of the Dom is mainly occupied by those creepy buskers who paint themselves gold and pretend to be statutes -- and you KNOW how I feel about those people -- and German skater teens. Here is one particularly creepy busker -- dead, German Thomas Jefferson or what?

We spent our time in Cologne wandering along the river, enjoying uber-cheesy oompah performers, tasting wine, munching on black licorice and other assorted gummies, and watching a fat Turkish man handily beat several skinny German dudes at martial arts with his eyes closed. We ate sausages and sauerkraut for dinner and drank big beers. Ah, Germany.

The next morning we flew to Edinburgh, where we dropped our bags at Al's cousin Kathryn's friend Steve's house (whew) in Leith. Apparently, Leith used to be a fairly/very sketchy area (it's the setting for Trainspotters!) but now it's cute and clean and gay, with several "gubs" (gay pubs). We only stayed in Edinburgh for a few hours before taking off for St. Andrew's, where we visited Al's grandparents, who are very sweet and Scottish. We all watched the Olympics on TV, and Granny commented that Michael Phelps, the incredible American swimmer, could probably get a job out of this whole Olympics thing. "He could be a lifeguard," she suggested. Haha! After watching University Challenge and Coronation Street, we had some whiskey, beer and sweets with Granddad and he sung us some Scottish songs.

After St. Andrews, we went to Linlithgow for dinner with some more of Al's family, and then to Glasgow for a night, before heading to the Isle of Arran for a family party. The island was beautiful and green, with cute white houses sprinkled throughout. Quaintness overload! Before arriving on Arran, one of Al's cousins had said, "Ooh, Arran's lovely, it's like going back in time." I think he might have been confused about what going BACK in time entails, because the lodge/resort we stayed at was super modern. I mean, the gym had yoga mats and stability balls. Come on. Anyway, I had a blast on the island; we went biking, had a fancy wine-pairing dinner, and played loads of Scrabble.

Next stop after Arran was Glasgow, where we stayed at Kathryn's gorgeous flat for a night. We went out for delish Indian food and hit up a pub before coming back to the apartment and collectively stalking people on facebook. A good end to a good night! The next day, Al and I were off to Edinburgh again for the Fringe Festival, which is this huge arts festival that takes place every August in Edinburgh. We didn't know any of the acts ahead of time, so we semi-randomly chose a comedy show and bought tickets for it. We ended up seeing Luke Toulson. His show was called "There are so many things I can't do," and it was hilar!

This is a clip of him performing somewhere else last year:

The next morning, we went to London to catch our flight to Iceland. We had heard ahead of time that Iceland is crazily expensive and that we should bring our own food and even booze. With this in mind, we arrived at Heathrow fully stocked with crackers, bananas, vodka, cheese, peanut butter, and apples. However, our plan was abruptly foiled at the security checkpoint when they confiscated our peanut butter, which apparently counts as a liquid, gel, spray or cream. What?! It was CHUNKY. It ended up being fine, though, because the guesthouse we stayed at in Reykjavik included breakfast, which was basically an open fridge that we could graze from for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The vodka did come in handy, though -- I mean, who wants to pay 312984129 krona for a beer? Not me!

Reykjavik was a really weird, barren little city of pre-fab houses perched on top of mossy lava rocks. We stayed outside the city center in what appeared to be an industrial park, and the city center itself seemed abandoned and quiet. It wasn't unpleasant, just a bit strange. The highlight of the Iceland trip, though, was definitely the Blue Lagoon, a natural sulfur hot springs where Nordic-type people go to relax and be blond. At the entrance to the springs, you're given a plastic bracelet with a computer chip embedded in it that opens your locker and allows access to the springs. So high tech! We spent several hours swimming around in the warm, sulfuric water (Al said it was like swimming in a giant, warm egg) while it drizzled cold rain over our heads. It was excellent.

Two cheeseballs in the lagoon:

So, that was Iceland. We stayed two nights and then flew back to Boston. And here I am, back in Cambridge, gearing up to start my last year of law school. Woo hoo. More to come later...

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