Welcome to the fifth part of my “An American in Europe” trip to the UK/Ireland during my winter holidays. If you haven’t read my previous posts on it, then I encourage you to do so! Otherwise, we’re moving on!
After staying one night in the filthy hostel in Glasgow, I was up the next morning to catch the bus to Edinburgh. Took it, and arrived at around 11h15. And although it’s winter and weather in Scotland is highly unpredictable, Edinburgh was surprisingly sunny in the late morning. As a result, the city was absolutely gleaming, from Princes Street which is the main shopping center to the Royal Mile, known for its restaurant/bars and tourist attraction events.
I wasn’t meeting with my host in Edinburgh until later that afternoon, so I had the whole day to explore the city. I also had plans to meet up with another traveler for lunch at 12h30, so I decided to hit the hot-spots before then. Walked along Princes Street (again, like other cities, was filled with people doing Christmas shopping. The pressure was on, especially since that was Christmas Eve!) and took a quick peek inside the Princes Street Gardens (wasn’t very impressed, unfortunately, since there were no grass or flowers in the middle of the winter and it was being used as an ice-skating rink area. But it did offer a fantastic view of the Edinburgh Castle, from the Ross Fountain):
Headed up to the Royal Mile afterwards, where it was surprisingly less crowded than I had thought. Any case, I walked up Old Town, where I went to Edinburgh Castle, in front of it, at least. There was an admission fee to go inside, which I wasn’t willing to pay for (again, Scotland uses the pound currency. Killing my budget here!), so I just took photos of it from the outside. Still majestic, though!
The pub that I was to meet the fellow traveler at was located on High Street, part of the Royal Mile. Arrived there 12h30 sharp, and she did as well. I ordered haggis, which is a Scottish dish that consists of sheep heart, liver, and lungs that are mixed with onions, salt, and stock. Doesn’t sound appetizing, but really, it wasn’t bad at all. Tasted no different from meatloaf, actually- at least I got to try it! 😛
Got to know the fellow traveler (let’s call her “Lauren”) as we had lunch and drinks; afterwards, I decided to go check out the Museum of Childhood, and since she had already gone there beforehand, we decided to meet up again in another hour to go see Arthur’s Seat. I went over to the museum, located on the same street, and spent the next hour going through the three floors of exhibits, of which are essentially memorabilia from the “good ol’ days” being a child. Items like rocking horses, dollhouses, toy trains and cars, as well as baby items, books, and DVDs, were on display, and it was quite interesting to go through them and feel somewhat a bit nostalgic. Neat, indeed.
Met up with Lauren again, and we set off for Arthur’s Seat, located a bit outside of the city center. Got lost a few times, and by the time we arrived at the area to hike up to the Seat, it was getting dark and cold. Tried to hike up anyway, but went the wrong way. In the end, we gave up and decided to head back to the city center, as daylight was fading (at freakin’ 15h30, what?!).
Also, I needed to meet up with my host around 16h30-17h00, so we walked all the way back, and broke off with Lauren to go meet him (let’s call him “Zach”). We met at Starbucks where he was studying (he’s a student at one of Edinburgh’s universities), and we then took the bus all the way to his flat, which was located 35 to 40 minutes outside of the city. I admit, not the most ideal location to get to-and-from Edinburgh, especially since buses didn’t run on Christmas Day. But Zach was super warm and friendly, and he invited me to a chaplaincy gathering the next day, which so happened to be Christmas.
Indeed, I spent Christmas in Edinburgh, which was quite nice. That morning, I helped Zach with preparations for the gathering, setting up tables for the meal and even baking a chocolate cake to feed the guests who were arriving. We were at work from 10h30 to 22h00- almost twelve hours of cooking, eating, and socializing. Oh man, was it exhausting- I also had too much to eat and too much to drink, especially when it came to the wine (bleh…). But it was relatively fun, and I got to spend Christmastime with company, rather than on my own at a hostel.
Alas, my stay in Edinburgh had to come to a close the following morning, when I was to take the nine-hour bus to London. Thanked Zach for the stay, albeit short, and promised to stay in touch. Super pleasant host, and I wished that I had stayed an extra night in Edinburgh, not only to hang out with him more, but also explore the city, as I was unable to on Christmas Day, with buses not running and everything. Wished that I could have gone back and make the trek to Arthur’s Seat, as well as visit another museum there. But I did manage to hit the majority of the major attractions in Edinburgh, so all was not lost.
…and so concludes my stay in Scotland! From the rich arts scene in Glasgow to the incredibly stunning Highlands to the classic streets of Edinburgh, Scotland was an absolute delight to visit. If I were to come back again, I would probably choose to check out other places, including Stirling, Aberdeen, and maybe a three-day trip to Isle of Skye in the Highlands. Who knows? One shall see!
Next stop: London, England!
— The Finicky Cynic
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