Friday, September 4, 2009

Mary King's Close

From there I went on a special tour I had booked in advance of Mary King’s Close. The tour was called The Real Mary King’s Close, because there are a lot of tours of these Closes (which I will explain in a second) that are designed to scare you. So they have people dressed up to jump out at you and all kinds of stuff, but this group figured that the closes themselves and the real things that happened there were scary enough so they just tell the true stores. So I will explain the city of Edinburgh in the medieval times. There was a main street called the high street that ran across the top of a ridge and from there ran all these little roads called a close. These little skinny streets all t-ed into the High street. They were about 3-5 feet wide and the buildings there were anywhere from 5-13 stories high, so not much light would ever get to the ground level. This is where the majority of the city lived, particularly the poorest of the poor. Mary King was the wealthiest of the tenets of this particular close which is why it was named after her. So anyway, the closes all ran down hill and ended in what they called the Nor Loch, or the North Lake. Life there was pretty crazy. There was, of course, no sewage systems in the medieval days, so thus they created the Nor Loch. It was basically a lake of sewage and waste. They were allowed to empty their bed pans into the close twice a day. At 7am and 10pm….dangerous time of day to be out on the close. All their waste was swept into the close as well as pretty much anything else and it all eventually made its way to the Loch. At some point in history the city was extremely crowded and they needed a location for a new government building, so instead of demolish them, they simply chopped off the tops of some of these closes and built the building right on top. So this tour takes you down below street level where these buildings have been preserved exactly as people used to live in medieval times. This particular close is so interesting because it was rumored to be cursed. When the black plague hit Edinburgh nearly every person on this particular close was affected. People abandoned the close for about 40 years and when they finally came back in the 1600’s is when the first accounts of supernatural activity were documented. The tour guide took us into the room of one of the homes of what would have been a middle class family and shared one of the more recent ghost stories. About a little girl named Annie. In the early 90’s a clairvoyant came to explore the close. She said that in this particular room in the close that she felt a particularly unbearable measure of pain and suffering. She turned to escape it and felt a tug on her trousers. She turned around to find a little girl there. She said she was sad because she couldn’t find her doll. The clairvoyant went and got a doll for her and since people have come left stuffed animals and dolls for Annie. The tour guide told us another piece of history from the plague. It was so contagious that if one member of the family were to get the plague it was often a death wish for the rest of the family, so what they figure happened with Annie is that she contracted the plague and was abandoned by her family in order to save the rest of them….sad!

This is just another stunning view of the Edinburgh skyline...
And another. What an incredible rainbow! I really think that to date this was my favorite city in the world....Stunning/shocking/intreaging/creepy/beautiful
You can't really see this but it is something I probably won't but wanted to make sure I didn't forget. Its called Sticky Toffee Pudding. I can't even describe it's deliciousness. Just find it or make it, it was one of the yummiest things I have ever had.
And this was just a really elaborate store window. This rino was made purely out of pieces of cut cardboard!

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