Today marks the second and a half day we’ve been in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I would have blogged more, but we don’t get access in our flat and must sit in the lobby to jack the wifi from a restaurant next door.
Day 1: The plane from Dallas went by rather quickly despite not being able to sleep much. They served us chicken curry for dinner which was surprisingly good. Upon our arrival to Heathrow, we asked our flight attendant if we were going to make our connecting flight to Edinburgh and she nearly laughed at us. Turns out we would only have 25 minutes to run across the airport, go through customs, and catch our flight. Thankfully, we made it–and it sure woke us up, too! However, ours bags did not catch the flight and we had to wait till 9pm for them to be delivered to our flat. In the meantime, we spent the day exploring the city and getting our bearings (while fighting against jet lag). My favorite part was our visit to Calton Hill which gave us a breathtaking view of the city. It was even more beautiful than I had thought it would be. I got to go to a vintage store which was swell, and I bought a blouse that was pretty nifty. We also visited the Writer’s Museum which depicts the lives of three famous Scottish writers including Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. I can’t remember the other guy…
That day we learned that each Scottish Bank makes its own version of the English pound with their name on it. What sucks is that the folks in London won’t take them. So we planned to get rid of all our scotch bills before we leave.
Day 2: Yesterday we woke up around 7:30am and got ready for the day. We decided to further explore the city and stumbled upon The University of Edinburgh, which is almost 600 years older than SMU. Wow! We also stumbled upon Greyfriar’s Kirk which is a really cool old churchyard. For lunch we ate at Mosque Kitchen, a great middle eastern cafe that apparently was mentioned on some British food show. After packing in some calories, we set off toward our main goal: Arthur’s Peak. The peak is a ridiculously old dormant volcano that hosts a microcosm of Scottish landscape. It is situated in the middle of Holyrood Park and the Palace of Holyrood sits at the base. We were originally going to tour the palace, but it is closed one week a year and that week is this week. I figure the Queen is there on vacation before her Royal Jubilee celebration begins. Anyway, we took one trail to what we thought was the top of the peak, and took in the beautiful view. Then, we discovered that it was nowhere near the top and we actually took what’s called Radical Road (named for the weavers that built it who apparently had radical political views–go figure). I finally found the correct trail and we set forth. Let’s just say that we should have worn our tennis shoes. We made it 2/3rds the way and rested on a plateau–and once again, a gorgeous view of the city. Then, we decided to turn back and get ice cream from a truck we saw at the base. The ice cream was worth it.
We learned that it is barely ever nighttime here. The sun is ALWAYS shining, even at 10PM!
Day 3: Today we began our day early again (although it seems that most of the people here don’t get up till 10ish) so that we could get a good spot in line to see Edinburgh Castle. Thank goodness we did, too, it was packed! But we made it inside and got to explore the grounds, see the royal jewels and the royal chambers, and climb the turrets. My favorite part was the war museum inside the castle, depicting artifacts from Scotland’s experiences through all the wars. The best part was a special exhibit on artificial limbs. I found it absolutely fascinating to see the progress in technology from iron hands to tin arms to fully robotic limbs. It’s truly amazing!
After the castle, we visited a tartan weaving mill which showed how scots get their beloved fabric. It was basically a tourist trap intent on selling plaid anything, but it was still interesting to see. After the mill we took a lunch break and decided to give Scottish cuisine a try. I ended up getting a veg pie and mash, which is basically a veggie pot pie smushed down like a pancake on top of mashed potatoes–delicious! Ali really wants us to try something with haggis, but Snigdha and I are skeptical. Maybe tonight?
After lunch we walked to the National Gallery to view some art and saw the Scott Monument (the largest monument dedicated to a writer) and Princes Street (a major shopping area that put North Park Mall to shame). Then, we checked out the Waverley Train Station to make sure we had everything ready for our train to London in the morning. We decided to head back to the flat to take a rest and stopped at a cafe for a scone and jam. I definitely think that a scone shop would make bank in the States, just saying.
Tonight we are going to grab some dinner and then try to pop into a pub on the corner near our flat to hear some live acoustic music from the locals. But, tonight will be an early one because we have to catch a 9:30am train to London in the morning.
Our time in Scotland as been quick, but we’ve gotten to see so much! Everything about the town is so beautiful and so old. There’s history around every corner! I can’t wait to see what London has in store for us!