The train arrived in Carlisle about midday. This was Anita’s bithday and as yet I had not given her a present or card yet. We got a taxi to the hotel and I gave her a box of biscuits and a card I found quite funny. I also told her that her main present was I Was going to pay for her to get to Paris any way she wanted, even 1st class train or plane. SHe was impressed I thought. We found out that Carlisle appears to not have any laundry facilities so all our dirty clothes from camping we had to leave in bags for the 2 days we were in town. Our first night in Calrisle was fairly quiet, Anita skyped her parents and brother and sister in law and I watched some crappy English TV. I had just jumped into the shower when Anita started Yelling, I flew out to find out that Jolly And Holly, two of my best friends and former housemates were engaged. I immedieately rang them and then skyped my congratulations. THis is such fantastic news And I am super super stoked for them. Not only because I love them both heaps but because I get to go to what is going to be an awesome wedding. After the ecitement had settled down Anita decided she would like Italian for dinner so I booked us what looked like a good restaurant and then watched more crap TV while she had a nap. They have a channel in the UK called DAVE, great channel incidentally. The Taxi to the restaurant was good with a guy who told us about the history of Carlisle a bit. THe Restaurant was great, I had a pizza made with local steak and Neat had a big creamy mushroom and asparagus pasta. We had a bottle of bubbly to go with it and I got a raspberry gelato, meringue and raspberry sauce dessert which was stupidly tasty. We decided to walk back to the hotel by a different way to see a bit of Carlisle. This was a good walk even though we got lost a couple of times but that is all part of the fun. We got a couple of bottles of cider and a bottle of red wine to drink at the hotel and went home. The next morning we got up early and enjoyed the hotels all you can eat breakfast. Such a good idea. For some reason the old couple next to us were horrified when I poured yoghurt onto my fruit salad. We again snapped up some butters and jams for lunch and went back up to our room. I spent the next bit of the morning researching our trip and booking accommodation in Edinburgh. We then went to a cinema and saw the new X-Men movie. Good movie in my opinion, lots of fun. After the movie we walked through the city to the Castle (via Marks & Spencer where I bought some socks and undies but thats not exciting enough for this blog). The castle was pretty cool. We wandered around the keep and the battlements and they had a museum with the whole history of the castle and the jacobites. There was also a great gift shop where we bought yet another badge and wandered back to the hotel. For dinner we went to the hotel restaurant and got the sharing platter. This platter was a great example of typical english cooking. Fried scampi, fried fish, fried sausage, chips and onion rings. Very healthy. A couple of Jacques ciders to go with it and we were ready for bed. We arose early and caught a cab to the train station with our gear. The train ride to Edinburgh was great, It was only just over an hour long and through some amazing countryside yet again. We arrived in Edinburgh and caught yet another taxi to the hostel, mainly because we had no idea where it was. Our first view of the hostel was horrible, a narrow caged corridor covered in rubbish. We arrived a little early so there was no one to let us in. When she arrived we were let in the security gate and taken up some dirty little stairs to our room. We were then told our key wasn’t ready yet but we could dump our stuff in number 1 for now and come back in an hour or two to get the key to number 4. Seeing the inside of the rooms however changed my whole opinion. We had an entire 2 bed apartment to ourselves. We asked and no one was going to be staying in the other room. We had a kitchen and best of all a Laundry. It was all brand new having been open only a couple of weeks and is very clean. It is 20 pounds a night each which is the cheapest hostel we have found anywhere in the Uk yet for a double room. But for a whole apartment this is incredibly cheap. If a group of people were going oto be staying this hostel, the city centre hostel is the way to go. It really is in the city centre too, we walked out of our hostel (noticing a pub two doors down in either direction) and walked towards Grassmarket. As we rounded the first corner we had the most amazing view of Edinburgh Castle sitting atop the rocks. I instantly fell in love with Edinburgh. Walking through the streets you can feel the history and the amazing vibe. We walked up the royal mile past a lot of shops selling souvenirs and cashmere. There were street performers the whole way along and  just walked around the city. We booked a ghost tour for that night then headed back. It was actually a great relief to be able to do washing and have some clean clothes for once. The ghost tour left at 8 that night, It was still bright sunlight so not really the scariest time but our guide made up for it. She was fantastic, a great actor and story teller. She used me as an example of what the Scots did to English traitors on the merkat cross. It was quite graphic, a whipping then rubbing salt in the wound. Then the man who had spoken treason had his jaw ripped off and his tounge cut off, the man who had listened and nodded his agreement had his ears ripped off. Quite brutal but inventive. The tour continued around edinburgh where she showed us a few famous spots, where the gallows were and where a famous judge was shot and his murderer tortured to death. After this we descended into the South Bank vaults. These were amazing, vaults hidden death beneath Edinburgh that had in there time been markets, pubs, brothels adn eventually squats before they collapsed. Only recently have they been excavating and reopening alot of them. The ghost tour moved through these dark, dank vaults and the guide told us about the Wathcer, the Cobbler and the little child that haunted them. Anita was terrified and made sure she was at the front of the group next to the guide at all times. The tour ended in a little bar they have set up in the vaults where the guide told us a few more tales and we all had a drink. We were told about Burke and Hare, two infamous body snatchers who were in fact vicious serial killers. On that happy note we left the vaults, it was about 10 but still bright daylight outside, so it was easy to forget the spookiness. This tour was great, lots of history and a great guide made it truly enjoyable and a great way to see Edinburgh. Next time, the Castle itself.

 

Clive

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