A Scottish Adventure: Edinburgh I
26-28 August 2018
My autumn in the Burren began a bit early with a side trip to Scotland. As my good friend, Krystal, needed to be in Spain by September 6th and I was expected in Ireland before the 10th, we decided why not go a bit early and see something new? After her parents dropped us off in Chicago, we began our many hours and miles of travel on our way to Edinburgh, connecting through JFK. It was here that a couple began making out right behind K, while she was on the phone with her grandma, and all I could do was wait until she noticed. Shortly after, we boarded our largely-empty plane for the trans-Atlantic flight, lucky to have three seats to ourselves (the middle seat became a nest for our various electronics, sweaters, and chocolate bars).
Landing mid-morning in Edinburgh, taking the bus to Waverly bridge, and getting a bit lost before finding our hotel, we began what would be a tough few hours of trying to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime hour. And worry not: we made sure to get a local pint and haggis the first day. Just don’t ask K about the haddock bites.
Although day one was fairly uneventful, our first full day in the city brought us to some of the (free) city attractions, starting with the National Gallery of Art.
We decided to hit up the National Museum next, and spent a solid couple of hours browsing their collection – lots of taxidermy and artifacts from world cultures. We watched the bizarre Millennium clock tower go off (look up a video, it’s certainly something worth seeing) and visited the roof terrace for some skyline views of the city. Unfortunately the Egyptian and Neolithic/Viking displays were undergoing renovation, which were what would have interested me the most, but K was happy they had period-accurate clothing for kids to try on. Which she did.
Leaving the museum and heading across the street, you can find the famous Greyfriars Bobby statue, sitting in front of the pub by the same name, which itself is situated in front of Greyfriars Kirkyard. Getting past the throng of tourists desperate to take pictures of the statue, we headed into the pub for a pint before continuing our day’s exploration. Now, Krystal and I love graveyards. So it was no wonder that our next stop would be the kirkyard just up the alley from the bar.
I kind of forgot that Harry Potter found its beginnings in Edinburgh, and didn’t make the connection between the many HP themed shops and tours until we ran into the tour in the kirkyard. (I somehow even managed to miss K’s comment about HP when we passed the famous Elephant House, where Rowling began writing it. Blame it on the jet lag). Now, this tour was led by a cloaked man carrying a wand, and we just happened to meet them in the final part of their tour: stopping by the gravestone of a Mr. Thomas Riddell. I doubt he would have ever imagined flocks of nerds standing on top of him and taking identical photos of and with his name. Must be rolling in his grave (ha). Then again, I don’t think old Bill Smellie – editor of the first edition of Encyclopædia Britannica – would have expected some random girl from Wisconsin to take a pic with his grave. Yet here we are.
The day ended with what would become our nightly walk up and down the High Street. Knowing the next day we would be up early to catch our train to Inverness, we ate dinner and headed back to the hotel. A good start to an even better week abroad with one of my best friends.
You can check out Krystal’s blog, GALavanting, here. She’ll be updating periodically this semester while she’s studying abroad in Toledo, and her posts for our trip are already up (because somehow she didn’t procrastinate more than me).