It’s been suggested that Scotland was an odd choice of location to spend my first long weekend, courtesy of the early May bank holiday. The UK hadn’t quite realised it was meant to be Spring so my colleagues were full of ire at my excitement to be heading to somewhere even colder than London.
They completely failed to get on board once told I was going by train. 5 hours each way.
Whatever. I was still excited. Edinburgh promised subdued Scottish accents and the opportunity to test my calves out on landscape better resembling what I’d left back in New Zealand.
That’s not to say the train ride there was lovely and scenic. For, it was nothing of the sort. It’s not that important, so let me summarise:
- No one would move down the carriage to let us on
- I hit a woman with my bag despite pleading with her to move an inch to the left
- We stood for 2 hours
- Someone pulled the emergency break.
… Nice sunset though.
We arrived around midnight and stepped out of the station to the scene of a woman berating the living shit out of her partner. I was mildly distracted by the passing-by of several gorgeous, tall Scottish men. Is it just me who appreciates the scots?
Taylor Swift gets it. Err. Got it. Awkward.
Our uber driver gave us the 411 about the nightlife (Pubs til 12am, clubs til 2am) and I had to shoot my brother a no-way-in-hell look when he I saw him considering anything but passing out for a good 8 hours.
Sitting on a train is so tiring.
We slept. We woke. We searched the internet for the best cafe close to us and trekked in to the city for a decent flat white. Such is the daily task when travelling… they are few and far between once you leave New Zealand.
Continuing the tradition of being ill-prepared, we were off to Edinburgh Castle with no real clue how to get there. The good news is that we quickly realised we’d be able to navigate ourselves just by looking up.
Edinburgh Castle is literally built in the hill.
You can pay to get in and walk along the turrets, but you’re already uphill enough to see out over Edinburgh.It also appeared to be full of tourists shoving their cameras and bodies in the way of everyone else, so I wasn’t fussed.
That landscape though.
Ok, maybe you can’t tell how breathtaking it is because of my phone quality or the buildings directly in front of the scenery.
Don’t worry, at the end of this I would have climbed up Arthur’s Seat to get some better shots of Edinburgh. If you want to experience this place, you’re going to have to climb a hill or two.
A quick 180 spin took us down the Royal Mile, another tick off the non-existent list of spots to see in Edinburgh.
We dipped in to the first few stores, where I loudly queried what the Stewart colours were. Turns out they’re rather… what’s a nice way to put it, garish? Seemed a tad superficial to buy a scarf that wasn’t in our family’s colours so I forewent the traditional souvenir. Sigh.
Oh yeah. Hi. I’m Scottish. My city was based on this one.
Unsurprisingly, there are bagpipes playing constantly down here. I’m really sorry for taking your photo, bagpipe man. Your kilt resembled the one I wore at school.
Imagine me balancing on a very precarious ledge to get a better vantage point of this building please. The weird positions I find myself in to get photos for this blog, honestly.
We get to Arthur’s Seat soon. Hang in there.
So, the Royal Mile is a long stretch of road consisting of tourist shops (wool, tartans) side-by-side and the odd whiskey store. I’ll admit, I had a fleeting moment of stupidity and thought this was the normal Edinburgh high street.
So blonde sometimes.
The market was very cute. I’m not a big market person, but when in Scotland…
Everyone was taking pictures of the lights. I then got a queue of people behind me as they realised there was a stained glass window.
Perfect place to pick up a kitschy souvenir by the way.
It’s a nice street to walk down. That’s my point.
Following the road should take you to Holyrood Palace. We were tempted to see more of the palace, but made the decision to head up to Arthur’s Seat while the sun was still out.
Loved the unicorns.
Aaaaaaanyway… we kept trekking forwards until we passed one hellishly ugly parliamentary building and stumbled upon the steps up to Arthur’s Seat. Basically, by convenient accident. Such was my logic anyway, it’s probable that my brother knew where we were going.
Let’s pause here to consider how annoying I may be to travel with.
Impossibly dressed for the situation in skinny jeans and a handbag, we walked towards Arthur’s Seat questioning where the path up was. Once realising the small ant-like dots of people walking up, we followed like sheep. Blatantly ignoring the danger sign. It didn’t look that hard…
We were wrong.
I ended up having to put my coat on in the sunshine so I could hold my bag over my shoulder and use both hands to scramble along the rocks on our way up. Let’s be honest, it was fun… and my brother was having the same miserably sweaty experience. Misery does love company. Not sure I’ve used that phrase correctly.
We even got adventurous and detoured to climb up a cliff face to walk along the edge. There were a few slips and many swears in the presence of children.
I managed to capture a few shots as we progressed up the hill, whenever hands could be freely used to aim phones at things, instead of gripping stone for dear life. Across one side is the city and mountain ranges, and the other is the sea.
Very much reminded me of home.
We persisted. We perspired. There were plenty of jokes about butt sweat.
Being unprepared and doing it anyway sometimes works out. It taught me to stop being so lazy when it comes to travelling, as this was the best memory of the trip. So very worthwhile. Even knowing I had to wear the same jeans the next day without washing them.
Don’t even talk to me about finding the easy path on the way down though.
Obviously tired, we trudged downhill and were off to the main strip to find some bars we’d looked up that said they had craft beer. An invitingly sunny spot was free outside this makeshift beer market so we popped in for one.
One turned in to a general sprawl through downtown Edinburgh, stumbling upon The Last Drop which we’d been told to look out for. New friends were made, rounds were bought, and we were on to the next pub that the locals had told us about.
Makes me sad that I’ve never had that experience in London. Ah, well.
Somehow we ended up in a craft bar, with a bartender who recognised my brother. Very interesting when bartenders recognise you, might be worth noting my brother is quite the beer fanatic/drunk.
Chats with her became chats with some Europeans touring through Scotland, and somehow I was outside with a bottle of prosecco and someone’s ticket to Beltane. We initially followed our new friends in a quest to walk up the hill in the dark, but lost them somewhere around when they jumped someone’s fence after being denied entry to the festival.
I’m no law breaker.
We attempted to catch an uber to the top of the hill which didn’t quite work out. Failing that, we were off home as we had a trip to St Andrew’s in the morning.