James. Brooks. Eckert. In Scotland! It was awesome to have my first visitor abroad, and even better for it to be my big brother. When James first arrived, jet-lag took over. After a three hour nap, I started showing him around the city. I took him to Greyfriar's Kirk, which I had actually never been to before. I've always walked past it, but never ventured inside the graveyard. We checked out the infamous Bloody Mackenzie's tomb - which is said to be viciously haunted by its resident ghost. I gave him a brief walking tour of the highlights of Old Town. Then we went back to my room to try to purchase tickets for the football match the following Saturday: Hibernian vs Dundee. The website was confusing, and I ended up having to make a few calls. I was put on hold a lot, and was giving James a play-by-play of what was happening. It took me a while to realize that he was no longer responding... he had fallen asleep in the middle of our conversation. After a half hour of battling with myself on whether I should wake him up or just let him sleep - I woke him up and we went out for dinner. We went for Mexican in New Town. There were Philly cheesesteaks on the menu... in a Mexican restaurant... in Great Britain... we got a kick out of that.
James sneaking a peak inside Bloody Mackenzie's tomb
The next morning, we headed over to the West End of Edinburgh. I never had any reason to spend time in the West End, but James discovered an art gallery in the area that looked interesting, the Dean's Gallery. So we checked it out. It was actually two buildings - two museum's in one. One building housed Scottish modern art from 1900s to today. The other, Dean's Gallery, had bizarre instillations, dada, and surrealist art. One artist who stood out to me was Damien Hirst, with his dead animals preserved in formaldehyde, his medicine cabinet instillations, and his paintings of colored dots representing pills and prescriptions.
Outside the Dean's Gallery was an interesting landscape design on the front lawn. It almost looked futuristic: a serpentine island with block steps carved into the sides, that weaved its way around crescent-shaped ponds. It was a gorgeous, sunny day, so we sat outside on the steps of the gallery and enjoyed the view of the landform in front of us. Little kids ran around the island, chasing each other to the top of the mound. We ate lunch at Ryan's, on the corner of Queensferry and Princes Street, and were able to catch a little bit of a football match on the TVs there. Then we headed back up to Old Town and went to the Tron for drinks to watch the rest of the game.
Dean's Gallery landform
Back in my room that night, we flipped through our Lisbon guide books and started looking at what we wanted to do in Portugal. James practiced his Portuguese from the language guide in the back of his book. We only read the important phrases out loud: "where is the bathroom, please?", "one beer, thank you", and "let's get wasted tonight!" The way he read them, he sounded more like he was chanting in Hebrew, than speaking Portuguese.