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Hogmanay, kilts and Braveheart | It Starts With Ken | Page 2

“Chris, wake up! The whole road is on fire outside!”

I wake up around 7:30 p.m. to the sounds of people banging doors and an eerie firey glow outside the window.

For a minute I didn’t realize where I was, or what the eerie glow was. I wipe the window clean of fog and dirt, and realize the street parade has begun (and without us)!

We quickly get out of the hostel and into the freezing December evening as I try to shake off my jet lag induced zombie state migraine (“Crap, forgot the pain meds!”).

As a bagpipe band named Pipe Band (for real!) play the Scottish anthem and pass by, we join the crowd since it seems that in order to be cool, one must walk with the crowd, even if you don’t know where they’re all going. Now all we need were torches. Everyone had torches, the kind where you could use them as batons, and swing around at people. Even little inattentive children were waving them around, except two kids from LA.

Not to be disappointed, we find two kids without their parents, and steal their torches. No, really, we asked the parents to borrow their kids’ torches for a photo op. We arrive on top of Carlton Hill, where giant straw effigies and viking boats are set up (to be lit of course), but not before the infamous choke point alley of fire and doom. Never at one point did I feel threatened or endangered with the torch flinging kids until we got to this part. I was wrong to feel so safe.

Imagine a regular sized two lane road the width of a typical driveway/garage, and 100,000 people trying to get through it. Singed hair never smelled as horrible as that night, as it combined with all the horrible black smoke these torch sticks were emitting. We barely escape this corridor of death and reach the top of the hill to watch the Viking clad men light up the boats and effigies and end it all with an up close fireworks show. Not bad, considering this was the first night.

As Chris keeps repeating to everyone later on that night, really, “It was a glimmering sea of fire”.

We head back down to George Street to find some place to eat. We stumble onto a small crowd on the sidewalk as some oddly dressed people with funky vehicles straight out of a Lemony-Snicket movie pass by on the street.

“What the hell is going on?” Chris mutters it for me as we stood there amused and laughing at this strange spectacle (At this point in our sleep deprived states we really were a bit weirded out by this). We later find out they were out for a last minute rehearsal for tomorrow night’s street parade. With quite a bit of comic relief, we headed back to our rooms.

At this point I’m completely mind numbingly dead, so I conk out the second I hit the bed. A few hours into the early morning, I’m awakened to Chris talking to our new room mate. Chris, surprisingly, still has energy to burn (maybe I really should have drank my energy drink) and the new Aussie Kiwi roomie decides she wants to grab some pints with us. Did somebody say beer? I was down for that.

After a long trip down the six flights of stairs in our pj’s, we’re enjoying some good pints at Belushi’s.

I finally head back to bed at around 3 a.m. completely exhausted and slightly buzzed. I just remember that I forgot to eat tonight.

“Not bad, not bad at all”.

I doze off to the sound of bagpipes in my head. Zzz…

About the author

Kenneth's a self-confessed technophile, WordPress tinkerer, sweat addict, compulsive list maker, avid photographer, and tea lover. If you wish to get a hold of him, you can do so here, or if you want to follow his professional work, here.

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