Free Day in Edinburgh

St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral

On my free day, I made sure that I went for a tour of St. Giles Cathedral. It was there that I learned that John Knox, a Scottish clergyman, encouraged the people to reform the church. He is known as a prominent leader of the Protestant Reformation, and the father and founder of the Presbyterian church in Scotland. Edinburgh-Royal MileI mostly walked the Royal Mile and took in some of the Scottish culture. Edinburgh-escape artistAlong the way, I saw an escape artist’s act which very fun and entertaining. I love getting lost in new places because I think we become more observant of our surrounding, and therefore, will find things we otherwise may overlook. While I was lost in the streets of Edinburgh, I came across a little statue of a dog.

Greyfriars Bobby

Greyfriars Bobby

People were walking up to the life size statue and taking pictures with it. This peaked my curiosity. I found out that the statue was of Skye Terrier called Greyfriars Bobby who, for fourteen years after his owner died, guarded his grave until he, himself, passed away. He became a symbol of loyalty to the people of Edinburgh. Also along my walk, I saw a lot of native cuisine. I struggled finding food that actually satisfied me, so I mostly ate the the bar connected to our hostel because they served American food.Edinburgh-pig I loved getting lost in Edinburgh. The city is so rich with history and the locals were beyond friendly. I chatted with tons of Scots, and I even began to network with a few of them on social media. I’ll be honest and say that the only thing that I did not like about Edinburgh is the steep hills and lack of transportation. I suffered a knee injury in dance before I left the States. Everything was truly worth the climb.

Train To Edinburgh!

We boarded the train to Edinburgh at Kings Cross Station in London. We got the chance to see Platform Nine and Three Quarters from the movie Harry Potter. Although I don’t consider myself as a Potter fan, I was super excited to see it. Platform 9 & 3 quarters When we got on the train, I was delighted to see that it had super comfortable chairs, unlike other trains I’ve been on, and sockets to charge our electronic devices. The scenery on the way to Edinburgh was beautiful! There was lots of countryside and hills with random houses tuck away inside them. There was also a lot of rivers and different bodies of water.

River Tweed

River Tweed

I got a feeling that Edinburgh was going to be a lot different than London. London was city-like and very fast paced. Based on the the sites out of the window of train, I thought that Edinburgh was going to more like what I have seen on television about Scotland-natural landmarks, free-roaming animals, and castles. On the way, I took a random picture, not even sure of where I was located. Luckily I have an iPhone which tells me the location of every picture I take. The picture description said that we were in Berwick-upon-Tweed.



After doing a little research, I found out that Berwick-upon-Tweed is the northernmost town of England. It is located in the area that many battles between Scotland and England took place over the possession of the border. The town is a traditional marketplace with medieval style architecture. The picture does not do the actual view of the town justice. It was breathtaking! After arriving at the train station in Edinburgh, I began to regret my packing decisions even more. Edinburgh is filled with super steep walkways, one in which we had to walk up to get to our hostel. Luckily, I was roommates with a girl who hurt her knee and a pregnant woman, so we all pitched in a got a cab.

Edinburgh-The Canongate

Edinburgh-The Canongate

Second Free Day in London

My bike's name was John Lennon!

My bike’s name was John Lennon!

London-Bike tour Princess Di Memorial

London bike tour 

On My second Free day in London, I decided to go on a Royal London Bike Tour. This tour was approximately four hours long, and I was not sure if I could endure seeing as though I had not ridden a bike in over ten years! When I arrived to the meeting spot, there was nobody there. I thought that I was a victim of a scam. About ten minutes after the designated time for us to meet, one of the tour guides showed up and other members of the tour began to crowd around him. There was a lady with her two sons and a set of twin sisters. One of the twins had her daughter with her. In a short amount of time, we all learned that we were all uniquely tied to each other. The woman and her two sons were from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida which is a part of St. Johns county. I was born and raise in St. Johns county Florida. The twins and the daughter were from Indiana (I forget where exactly), and that’s where I live now. We began our tour in Kensington Gardens in front of Kensington Palace. It was here that we learned about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. From there, we traveled through Hyde park. One of my favorite sites we visited here was Princess Diana’s Memorial fountain. We learned that a lot of people were upset about the simplicity of her memorial because they were used to large statues for royals that have passed away. The designer of the memorial thought that the fountain best represented Princess Di’s life with the different flows and ripples of the water. Also, she did a lot of humanitarian and charity work, so the fountain brought different people from different walks of life together even in her death. After a couple of hours, we took a break and had lunch in St. James’ Park. For the remainder of the trip, we visited Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and The Houses of Parliament. We were told of interesting stories such as Michael Fagan, the guy who broke into Buckingham Palace, and Guy Fawkes, the guy who tried to blow up Parliament. The bike tour was a fun and interesting experience! If you decide to take one, make sure you bring lots of muscle rub for the next day.

Free day in London


One of the things I really wanted to do while I was in London was to visit the Tower of London. I had the opportunity to do so on the Monday after a weekend of fatal car accidents, missed and delayed flights, impromptu hotel stays, and dragging my heavy luggage around (I do suggest you listen to the professors when they tell you to pack light). I was overly excited that we had finally made it to London and I was beyond ready to explore. To my delight, the Tower of London was the first adventure the majority of us decided to go on. We got our first taste of the tubes that day, and besides the super cushy seats, they were not that different from riding the subways in Chicago. When we arrived to the attraction, I was in awe of the 11th century architecture surrounded by modern, space-like buildings in its skyline. I had been looking forward to seeing the collection of armor that is on display there, appropriately called “The Line of Kings.” It was here that I saw life-size replicas of past kings and their horses. I was surprised to learn that this display was started over 300 years ago to impress visitors, and for them to see the greatness of the royal bloodline. I was also very anxious to see the Crown Jewels of the British Monarchy. The line to see the jewels was extremely long and it curved around other parts of the attraction.

I made him laugh!

I made him laugh!

While we waited, I decided to see if I could make the guard smile. I asked him, “How do aliens organize parties? They PLANET!” Before I could say the punchline, he was about to burst with laughter! When we finally made it in to see the jewels I was in awe. They were gorgeous! Before that day, I had never been that close to that many diamonds and jewels in my life! Everything sparkled like they were battery operated. I highly recommend the Tower of London as a must visit attraction while in London!


Traveling is something I’ve always loved to do.  With every trip I’ve been on I learned incredible new things.  This trip however has taught me more about history, life, the human spirit, and different cultures than any other trip.  I find different cultures, and world history fascinating so going to two cities that are rich with culture and history was amazing.  One of my favorite things we saw were the exhibits that depict how people lived, how they survived and how different than us they were.  It also interests me how differently people in London liven than people in Edinburgh.  The streets in Edinburgh were close together and the houses we’re built up instead of out to provide more living spaces for the large quantity of people who occupied the town.  Edinburgh today still has closes that remind you of the living conditions of the 17th and 18th century.  During this trip we went to several places that let me peek into 18th century lifestyle.  A common theme I found in these places were the extravagant social conventions.

One place in London I thought showed an interesting story was Soane house. Mr. Soane was a British architect.  He would have been what you call today a hoarder.  His house however was not messy, all of his things were arranged nicely. Some of his things looked like they were taken straight from Greece.  To show off his fabulous things he would throw lavish parties. When he bought his sarcophagus which costs more than a year salary he threw a party to show it off and had many many people in this house, which was very crowded.  He also had a very beautiful painting room.  All four walls were covered in beautiful paintings. 2 of the walls you could open up to reveal another wall of paintings. If all that wasn’t enough to astound his guests you could open up the 2 nod wall to show his big reveal.  Behind that 2nd wall was a room that contained of course more paintings but also a big sculpture in the middle of the room.  Soane’s parties were extravagant and usually to show off his paintings or his new purchases.

Another place that we went to that showed us 18th century life was Georgian house in Edinburgh, Scotland.  This house was owned by a wealthy man and his family.  He didn’t really work but enjoyed his lavish lifestyle.  His house was very large and was built out instead of up because they finally had room in the new town.  In this time period there were many rules that came with living a wealthy lifestyle.  Children could only be in two designated rooms in the house.  Children also could not eat with their parents till they were 18. Of course the father picked their daughters husbend.  The kitchen was in the basement along with the maids room.  The kitchen was huge and had everything a person could need to cook an extravagant meal for a party.  The people who lived in this house had parties all the time.  Each party would have an enormous amount of food that took days for the cook to make.  Once the guests arrived they sat down for their meal.  After they were done eating the women would leave to go have tea and the men would take out the chamber pot to use now that the women were gone.  Depending on how old the mans daughter was he would have a suitor come to the party to see if he would be a good match for the family.  At the dance they would have later in the party more guests would arrive to dance.

Both cities had interesting lifestyles.  It almost seems like People who lived in London lead better lives.  At least the middle and lower classes.  In Edinburgh the people lived in houses that were really crowded and close together.  Several families lived in a room about as big as my garage.  How is that for a party?  Some families even had to live next to a room full of livestock.  It’s no wonder that the middle class people of Edinburgh were hit badly with the plague.  Edinburgh did build a new town so people would have more room but wealthier people and their maids lived there.  London had to be rebuilt after a large fire.  They rebuilt the city to look more modern that’s probably why they seemed to live healthier lives.

i really enjoyed going to Georgian house, gladstones land, Mary kings close, and Soane house because I got to see how they lived.  Mary kings close was incredible to me because it showed me a side of humanity not seen very often.  Those people lived in filth.  They were infested with fleas and many of them died from the plague.  Out tour guid told us that these people didn’t even complain.  That was the life they lived and even though they did live in a lavish house and threw parties every week they still managed to find a way to be happy and live their lives.  The guide also told us that when a family was hit with the plague that they would hang a white flag in the window and people would leave them food and ale.  Even though they thought they could be infected going near the house people would help their neighbors.

Gladstones land was a wealthy mans house in old town Edinburgh.  In the kitchen was the chamber pot and where the children were kept it’s no wonder that the plague spread as quickly as it did in the conditions they were living in.  The rooms were pretty small and if you wanted to entertain guested in the house there wasn’t much room but the people who worked at the house told me that still threw parties.  Their ceilings also had fruit painted on them.  The lady that worked there said that they painted fruit that was expensive and that people could generally not afford so that the owner of the house could show off how wealthy they were.  Even though the rooms were for wealthier people they did not even compare to the Georgian house.  To even get up to your room you would have to go up a bunch of crowed stairs.  It did not seem ideal compared to the lifestyle in new town however compared to Mary kings close it would have been a nice place to live

Consumerism in 18th Century England and Scotland

Being able to visit London and Edinburgh gave me a better understanding of the current culture and the culture of the cities during the 18th century. One thing that really stood out to me that took place in the 18th century was the rise of consumerism. It was very prevalent in the readings that we did before we went on the trip, and also when we visited historical sites in London and Edinburgh. In the readings, more specifically Humphry Clinker, we talked about consumerism and the mixing of classes because people in lower classes were able to afford the same things as the people in the upper classes. People of lower classes were on the streets in their fancy coaches and had nice clothes on, which threw off some people because the upper class were no longer clearly visible to anyone walking down the street. The historical rise of consumerism is something you can see today in museums, books, and movies.

In London we were able to visit two places that I feel expressed consumerism well. The first place is the Victoria and Albert Museum. Here you could see over time how people collected more items and how those items changed. Items became more extravagant and luxurious. Clothing items changed dramatically, for example, dresses became bigger, so big that women couldn’t fit through doors. Beds had more to them including very fancy oriental decorations on some. Other items like furnishing changed to reflect consumerism as well. I saw a silver platter that had a picture of the city of London engraved on the platter. All of these embellishments made life more luxurious and people were enjoying the benefits of a society with better access to goods.

A luxury dress

A luxury dress at the V&A Museum

The second place in London is Soane’s House. Soane was an architect and a collector of many things. In his home he had all kinds of artifacts covering every wall. He had a vast collection of books, many paintings and drawings (some were works of his own), many moldings from Greek, Roman, and Egyptian backgrounds, and some sculptors. Soane collected many items and would use these items to educate others. Back in this time people would go on a “grand tour” and they would take two years to go all over Europe and learn about different cultures. Many people passed through Soane’s doors and were able to educate themselves through his collection of books and art. Because Soane was acquiring more and more things he had a very good collection to learn many different things about history and culture.

When our class moved on into Edinburgh the move to consumerism was also prevalent during the 18th century. When we went to Gladstone’s Land we could see how a home would look in the beginning of the 18th century for a wealthy family. Comparing that with how the poor lived in Mary King’s Close, it was very easy to see how consumerism had reached the wealthy in Edinburgh. First, the people that had money had many rooms in their house to fill with all of the consumer goods. The wealthy people had sturdy furniture to hide valuables in, spacious kitchens with many utensils and room for the servant to live, and many lavish things like painted ceilings and beds with curtains that wrapped around the bed for privacy. These people had conveniences that came with the rise of consumerism.

When the new town was built in Edinburgh these modern conveniences that came with consumerism followed the wealthy to their new homes. In the Georgian House that we visited we could see how beautiful and lavish the homes were decorated. People had huge spaces to entertain guests. The walls were covered with paintings and there were high-end furnishings in every room. The bedroom had amazing decorations on the walls and including the bed. The kitchen for the house was absolutely huge. The servants had so much room to cook and prepare meals. They had ovens, and new utensils, and new inventions to cook, like the self-turning meat rotisserie. The servants had amazing living conditions compared to how they were treated in the beginning of the century. The butler had his own spacious room and the servants had a room specifically dedicated to their sleeping and living. There was even a move from a chamber pot to an early working of the toilet in this house. This house does however show the negative side to consumerism. The man who built the home was massively in debt because of the home and trying to impress people with his home and collection of things. In the end, he was forced to sell the property to pay off all of his debts.

The outside of the Georgian House.  Taken from:

The outside of the Georgian House.
Taken from:

Something that followed consumerism in the 18th century was a rise in tourism. Many authors were writing books about different places in England and Scotland and the people reading the books would read about them and want to visit to have the same experience as the characters in the book. One writing that majorly affected tourism was Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake. This is a poem that mentions a loch in Scotland, Loch Katerine. Once people stated reading this poem they were flocking to Loch Katerine to see all of the sights so beautifully described in The Lady of the Lake. This relates to something in our society today. Many people flock to Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness monster that has been talked about in books and fables for many years now. While Loch Katrine

isn’t the biggest tourism site today, you can see how people would be interested just like people are interested in Loch Ness. Humphry Clinker also influenced tourism because they main characters are on a journey through England and Scotland and there are many scenes that describe the beauty of both places. People are influenced by the way that Matthew Bramble completely changes character through the book. He has this horrible attitude about traveling and different places that he encounters on the trip. This all changes when he gets to Scotland and he is completely taken back by it. People now want to see that place and the culture that could change the mind of a grumpy person who seems to not like anywhere. I can personally say that after visiting Edinburgh and very few other parts of Scotland like Loch Katrine, I too see how Bramble got to the conclusion that he did.

Beautiful scenery from Loch Katrine

Beautiful scenery from Loch Katrine

Overall, consumerism played a huge role in 18th century London and Edinburgh. In fact, it continues to play a big role today. Consumerism pushes our markets and creates jobs for many people. Consumerism in the 18th century helped make social classes more equal, encouraged more people to take adventure and see what the world had to offer, and created a movement that continues today for bigger and better things.

One final thing I would like to say about this trip is that it was amazing! I never thought I would enjoy going to Scotland so much!! I came into the class not expecting to learn anything or even care about the classwork, but it turned out to be very interesting and fun for the most part. I’m so grateful that I was able to have this experience and now be able to compare 18th century UK culture with today’s. It was such an amazing opportunity to learn and travel with such an amazing and resilient crowd. I will miss everyone and I will always have the tidbits of info I know about 18th century British literature in my head!