I have returned.
Scotland was amazing, and I’m going to dedicate the next few entries to my adventures.
Thursday, July 21:
My mom and I arrived in Edinburgh around 7:30 am and only spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to make a phone call to the owner of the flat we were renting with my phone card, which only had instructions for calling from the US. [Please refrain from comments on my stupidity on this point]. After giving up and using my credit card, we caught a cab and headed to 2 Rossie Place, not to be confused with 2 Rothsay Place, which apparently sounds quite similar with an American accent. I was only taken there by accident once.
We pulled up in the cab, tired and ready to relax, but we were confronted with a slightly grubby alley and a Smurf-blue heavy metal door, painted awkwardly with a “2” and partially hidden by a dumpster and a rusted-out stove.
Once we had traversed the entry corridor that definitely smelled like cat pee and up two flights of stairs (I would have reconsidered the large suitcase if I had known that there wasn’t an elevator in the building), we found our place… and it was great! I suppose you should never judge a flat by its dumpster.
Friday, July 22:
It was the first day of the conference, so Jill, Kevin, Jeff and I (aka the Rice Crew, subsequently referred to as the RC) thought it would be wise to make an appearance. The conference was sponsored by the Centre for the History of the Book and took place at the University of Edinburgh‘s old college, which is near the center of the city.
[Note: I am technologically challenged and don’t have a digital camera yet, so I will post my own pictures once I get them back, if they’re any good]
We went to the welcome and plenary talk, which was given by a well-known book scholar named Roger Chartier. I spent the majority of his address squinting, head-cocked, pencil in my hand, an attitude I hope looked thoughtful but in fact was a result of the fact that I couldn’t understand a single word he said. Not only does he have a thick Parisian accent, but his words were bouncing around an impressive but empty-as-a-tomb lecture hall. I was impressed by those who understood enough to actually take notes.
Afterwards I went to a panel on libraries and the organization of knowledge, not so much because of the subject matter but because one of the panelists was Bob Duckett, who works for the Bronte Society as the submissions editor for their journal. I plan on submitting my Shirley paper to the journal at some point, and since it’s a long shot that it might be accepted I thought I should do some networking. The second session included Jeff, Jill, and Kevin’s panel, which I chaired. It was a little intimidating at first. The audience looked quite grim, and we were about 20 years younger than most of those attending the conference. Thank goodness they warmed up during the question and answer session.
I punked out after their session to start exploring the city. We took the bus to Princes Street, one of the main drags of Edinburgh. The bus dropped us off right in front of the Scott Monument, a huge Gothic tower that, surprisingly, you can climb (windy stairs style, not mountain climber style). Everything in Scotland seems to involve climbing many hazardous stairs. Anyway, the monument is in honor of Sir Walter Scott, not exactly my favorite author. But the Scotsmen love them some Sir Walter. He’s everywhere.
We ended up wandering up and down Princes Street, checking out the tourist shops and eating dinner at a pub appropriately called Ivanhoe. Princes Street also offers one of the best views of the Old City, the half of Edinburgh that is home to Edinburgh Castle and a lot of the other pre-modern attrations.over Princes Street gardens, which used to be a loch surrounding the castle.
To be continued…