We took the train from England to Scotland. We left from King’s Cross Station, which is significant because that is where Platform 9 3/4 is. We watched several muggles try to enter through the gate, or should I say wall, to travel to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, but none of them succeeded. I guess it’s true what they say: Your name has to be written by the Quill of Acceptance to be able to ride Hogwart’s Express. The store next to the platform, however, did manage to swindle us into buying tickets for the train for one pound each. Even with tickets in hand, it was no use. We were relegated to using platform 8 and taking a non-magical train to Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is a beautiful maze of narrow streets, unexpected alleys, tall stone buildings, cathedrals, monuments, and one monumental castle. We learned that these buildings dated back to the 1600s and of course had no indoor plumbing. Since it was often cold and wet outside, and it was a long way down to empty a chamber pot, they would often be emptied right out the window, making the streets a dangerous place to be at night. Needless to say, the wealthy would pay a premium to live on the top floor, where there was no risk of an accidental back-of-the-head shower. As the city got more and more crowded, you would think the wealthy tenants would build at or past the edges of town, but they couldn’t because that was the end of the world. Literally. There was actually a wall there, and anyone found outside the wall was either a thief or some kind of outlaw, or about to become victim to one.
One of the most successful types of thieves was a grave robber, believe it or not. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582, was well known for its medical school. The best way to study medicine, evidently, was to learn on human cadavers. In fact, delivering a dead body for study would bring in 7 pounds, the same as an average year’s salary! Two men, William Burke and William Hare, seemed to take this money-making venture a little too far, presumably committing 16 murders in 10 months’ time and selling the corpses to the university’s anatomy professor. Hare pled guilty and told all in exchange for immunity. Burke was sentenced to hang, and his body was dissected for study. His skeleton hangs in the anatomy building to this day. A whole new definition of, “What goes around comes around.”
Finally, in 1772, the wealthy of Edinburgh decided they had enough of the smell and filth of their town, so the town hired an architect to design “New Town.” Soon, it had become the up and coming place to live, with it’s wide, well-organized streets and expansive neo-classical buildings, and instead of calling the area their previous homes were in “Old Town,” they began to call it “Auld Reekie,” in honor of its smell. Our little apartment is in Auld Reekie, and boy, are we thankful for indoor plumbing and trash service!
Bill’s Lodging Review:
In Edinburgh, we stayed in the Richmond Place Apartments. Our apartment was actually a dorm-style apartment for students at Edinburgh University. It had a kitchenette, a small desk, table and one nice chair on the main floor, along with a bathroom so tiny it reminded us of a cruise ship bathroom. The bed and dresser were upstairs. It did have a laundromat (4 washers and 4 dryers) tied to the facility, which came in handy for us. The best part was the location, which was easy walking distance to the castle, the city center, the train station, and the bus to the airport. We would definitely choose Richmond Place again!