I had restless night with the heat. Like hotels in San Fran, in Edinburgh they don’t worry too much about air conditioning. My room is on the west side of the building and the paultry air conditioner can’t compete with the long setting sun. So after the red-eye flight, and a fretful first night, my second morning in Scotland I slept in until 10:30.
Not wanting to waste time with breakfast, I make tea in my room and scarfed down my last Luna bar and I headed out of the hotel around noon. There were some wispy clouds in the sky and a cool breeze but my short sleeves and brisk pace were enough to keep me warm. My destination was Old Town, the Royal Mile. I was going to walk along it to Edinburgh Castle, but then something caught my eye. I was walking down Calton Street pass the train station and I spotted some interesting graffiti and whipped out my camera. After getting the shot I noticed a doorway in the shot just to the right. Above the doorway were the words “Jacob’s Ladder.”
I looked both ways and when there was a break in the traffic I crossed. I looked at the gate with a suspicious glance. I wanted to enter but where would it take me and was it safe? I sniffed around the portal until a woman happened by and I asked, “Where does this go?” She said it went up to “It goes to Calton Hill. It’s by far the quickest way to get there.” she said with a welcoming grin. I wanted to ask if if was safe but thought that would be an insult, so I chose not to.
I’d already been to Calton Hill, and although it was spectacular sight, there was still so much more I hadn’t seen, like the Castle for one, did I need to repeat this journey? Besides the passage looked questionable with an endless wall of graffiti lining the stairs. But the mysterious steps beckoned and I couldn’t resist at least climbing them a bit, I could always turn back, I told myself. With each step my senses rose. The worn steps were topped with concrete, broken glass and empty cigarette packs littered the ground. Who would I meet around the next bend?
I continued my climb up the desolate stairs until I saw a street ahead. I popped out onto the street like a scared astronaut exploring the moon and ran smack into a person. She had long black hair and was wearing cutoff jeans. I watched her disappear down Jacob’s ladder with a skateboard protruding from her backpack. All the terror I felt while climbing now seemed silly.