Eighteen days. That’s a long time to have an out-of-office message on in today’s working world. If I had any hesitation about leaving reality going into my 2+ week trip to Europe, I had none coming out of it. Everyone should have the chance to unplug from their daily lives, reconnect with loved ones, and experience completely different cultures as often as they need it. (Or as often as budgets and husbands allow.)
This European vacation was a long time coming. For years, my parents had been goading us on to take a family trip to Poland. Fifteen years had gone by since I last visited the ‘Motherland’ and my parents were anxious to show Jake where they grew up. This was the summer we were going to make it happen, and so we began our planning. Leave it to Rachel to decide that a week in Poland just wasn’t enough; she quickly took to Pinterest to scout out nearby destinations by which to extend the trip, and convinced her close friend and cohort Mary to join in on the first half of the extravaganza. London, Edinburgh, and two cities in Norway made the final cut.
And that’s how I found myself following these two up the crags of bonny Scotland in pursuit of a view.
There it is. Arthur’s Seat was the first thing we did when I landed in Edinburgh. Little did I know at the time it would be one of the only things I’d get to do in my three days in Scotland. Maybe disregarding my need for sleep in favor of traipsing up that mountain did me in…. maybe it was the three eggs I greedily demolished before doing so. Something didn’t sit well with me, and before I knew it, half my trip was spent sick in bed. And over the toilet. Wah wah.
The virus may have grounded me, but I did live vicariously through the girls, who made the absolute most of their time and kept me laughing with their very vivid portrayals of the dozens of characters they met. I can’t claim to really know firsthand how much fun Edinburgh is, but between the stories and the bedroom window being a small portal to the wild outside world (i.e. the pubs), I know this: I need to go back.
By the next day I felt decent enough to escape the confines of our little Air BNB and there was just one place I had to see: Dean Village.
Charming, right?! Here’s something that took me by surprise. All of old Edinburgh is this picturesque. (Well, okay, I can’t claim to have seen it all in what was left of my time there, but we still covered good ground over the next two days.) Not only does the city embody a unique beauty that I haven’t experienced elsewhere, but the people there are genuinely wonderful. And funny. And apparently, take great pride in their heritage:
One of my favorite memories from the trip. We dipped into The Black Cat on Rose Street after an early dinner, which coincidentally happened to be the gathering spot for these talented folk on Sundays. Click here to hear them play. This was the moment I decided that given the opportunity to live here, I’d take it.
Rachel and Mary had visited Circus Lane before I got into town, and it was easy to persuade them to take me back. Who wouldn’t want to see this little street again?
I swear, the photo of me on the bench wasn’t my idea.
Rachie is a HUGE Harry Potter fan (I’m talking busting out those wizard-like costumes not only every Halloween but also to attend midnight screenings of the films) and while she planned on visiting a few landmarks that were inspirational to the series, we stumbled upon this one purely by accident:
One of the most haunted graveyards in the world, Greyfriars Kirkyard is also the final resting place of Thomas Riddell (inspiration for Voldemort) and William McGonagall (whose last name was borrowed for the Hogwarts Headmistress).
All of this was just a short walk from our apartment. We opted to stay on the Royal Mile and it seemed to be the perfect location. We were able to get around everywhere on foot, which always scores any city big points in my book. And I have to say, the area was pretty entertaining.
Thanks for all the laughs, gals. Onwards to Norway!!
A few things we did that I’d recommend:
Hike Arthur’s Seat. There are a few great things about this hike: its central location right by the castle, the views (all the way up), and the green terrain and the cool weather that make this a far cry from our hikes here in Phoenix. There are multiple trails that lead you to the top; we took nearest one to the castle, which took us about 3 hours round trip. You don’t need very specific directions to find your way to the top – it’s nearly impossible to get lost!
Visit Dean Village. It’s a quaint little section of town where it’s nice to linger and snap a few pics.
Walk Circus Lane. Same deal – really pretty for a short stroll.
Bar hop. I wish I could’ve done more of this. To us as Americans, every one of the restaurants and pubs seemed straight out of a book – so charming.
Just walk! Visit the castle, take the high street to St. Giles Cathedral, see the area near Scott Monument, and just cover as much ground as you can in Old Town.
Take the Airlink 100 to town. It picks up right outside of baggage at the airport, and costs a fraction of the cost of a taxi. It’ll take you right into the center of town. We got off at Waverley Bridge for our accomodations on the Royal Mile. More info here.
Since I can’t bear the thought of good planning going to waste, I’m also going to share a list of other to-do’s a friend of mine from Edinburgh suggested. I didn’t get to tackle as much as I intended – all the more reason to go back.
Botanic Garden in Inverleith for a morning walk
Whiskey! (Oh man do I regret not getting to do this)
Elie, a small village, for a beach walk and seafood lunch
Gullane, also for a beach walk
Food (Sadly my stomach couldn’t handle much!)
Scran and Scallie in Stockbridge