As always, we’ll start with the photo blog entry.
Edinburgh, Scotland is the first city (of two, the other being London starting tomorrow) that I’ve already been to on this trip. I went two years ago when I was studying abroad in London and Oxford as a weekend trip, and really enjoyed it. But this time was infinitely better, perhaps because I’ve already been here, perhaps because I didn’t have homework over the weekend, or perhaps because I’m in a better place in general at the moment than I was on that trip.
Edinburgh weather is like North Carolina weather-it changes all the time. Today went through cycles of: thunderstorms, extreme fog, sunny and summery, showers, partly sunny and cool, rain, and more thunderstorms. I brought an umbrella, a sweater, and wore shorts. It was raining when I walked into a bookshop and completely sunny when I walked out.
When I arrived yesterday after a flight from Dublin on a propeller plane that was two parts cute and one part scary, I took it upon myself to walk around Princes Street (one of the main streets, the other being the Royal Mile across the little valley thing) and surrounding areas, popping in and out of stores and generally acclimating myself to a place that was a bit bigger than Dublin. I liked the familiarity. I could look at a place and be like-“I went here, and it was good. I’ll go again.” To that end I ended up at a burger joint for dinner that I’d been to two years ago, that was good.
That isn’t to say I didn’t try some new things, although two years ago I covered most of Edinburgh despite only being there two days. This time I climbed Calton Hill, which has a few monuments on top, one of which you can climb. I did climb it and saw a very foggy Edinburgh that soon disappeared behind even more fog so that I couldn’t see anything. It felt weird, like a blanket had been forced over my eyes. It was a little disorienting after a few minutes, so I decided not to wait for the fog to clear and to climb back down and do other things.
I ended up walking down Princes street and then up, by which time it started to rain. And then it started to pour. So I ran into a little bookshop called Armchair Bookshop (I think) which had a TON of second-hand books and a cute dog. I petted the dog, who then followed me and nudged me and licked my leg as I browsed, and hugged me (well, my leg) as I started to leave. This dog really wanted me to stay, and to be honest I wanted to stay and pet the dog, too. But it had stopped raining and I had more stuff to do, so I said goodbye to the dog, which was hard, because this dog looked like this:
After puttering around the Royal Mile for a bit I ended up at the University of Edinburgh, where I popped into a quad which had been under construction two years ago. Now it wasn’t, even though the rest of the city seems to be under construction fixing buildings and installing tram rails and what-not, which it wasn’t last time. But the university was all fixed up and I got a whiff of college life, much more ancient looking than the one I’d left behind. I spent more time in another bookshop in a cafe while it cleared up, and then I power-walked out of excitement to Arthur’s Seat at the end of the Royal Mile.
Towards the end of the Royal Mile there’s the Scottish Parliament, which is an optimistic gesture on their part of breaking away from the U.K. It’s also weirdly modern compared to its surroundings-a bunch of old smoky buildings and a castle. Really, there is a castle right there.
Not too far away is Arthur’s Seat, a cliff that overlooks the city and competes with Calton Hill for Best View. Having had no luck on the Hill this morning, I took a difficult hike up to the top of the cliffs, where I’d had better luck with city views two years ago. The sun had come out and stayed out long enough for me to struggle up the cliffs with absolutely no grace and take pictures of the city from above, which looked like this:
There may or may not be an Instagram filter on that picture to give it affect. But that’s what it looks like. The clouds were coming back in and after walking in the heat for an hour it suddenly began to feel cold.
I made my way back up the Royal Mile, popping in-and-out of stores, getting a kilt and a few other things (I’m not sure if you can call them souvenirs) and eventually ended up at Edinburgh Castle. Where I stopped and did not go in because I refuse to pay the admission price for the castle. I just sort of looked at it, went into the Festival Center to learn about the fantastic festivals in Edinburgh (International, Film, Book, and Fringe) that I can’t attend no matter how much I want to, and then I went back to Princes Street and puttered around some more.
All told, Edinburgh provided me with two days of wandering around a city without having to worry about getting lost or mugged or killed, which was nice. (Not that I worried about that in Dublin, except for the lost part.) I got to drink in the sight of a beautiful old city and pet a dog and see a great view from atop a cliff, and eat good food and hear Scottish accents, which are always pleasurable. And I got to re-experience some memories and make them better because this time I’m a happier person. And in a few days I’ll be home, which is sad, but Edinburgh has helped me to wind down a bit and get back into familiarity. And London is even more familiar, so it’ll almost be like home!
But not quite.
Although I feel homesick for London a lot. I do want to live there one day.
But for now, a two day visit will have to do.