Hi everyone! I promise, I haven't forgotten about this blog or posting. In a sweep of exams, holidays, final exams, and--as the subject of the blog--travel, I had to adjust some priorities and put my favorite ones on the backburner.
I was in Edinburgh, Scotland, for a long weekend and I just returned yesterday. Scotland, oh Scotland, you have staggered me with your greenery in the dead of winter, your mountainous terrain, the cliffs that reminded me only God himself could have created such beautiful landscapes, and a history so rich with a future so friendly.
I flew to Edinburgh on a red-eye from New York City to see S on Thursday night. Note to self: red eye flights don't do it for me and I can't sleep well. But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise! Why? The Geminid meteor shower was in full force--and I cannot describe the beauty of looking out a plane window (perpetual window seat requestor right here!) and seeing a sky full of stars, some of which would fall at random intervals. It was pretty breathtaking.
S and I checked into our hotel, The Haymarket Hub Hotel, once we took the train and then began our adventure. He's in Edinburgh often for work since he lives in London--and the benefit of having someone familiar with an area is indescribable (especially when you're sleepy!). The hotel's beds aren't super comfortable but the location is perfection. We never had to walk far to reach sights and the train station is just across the street.
I love history. That's a pretty well known fact. It comes as no surprise, then, that I found the architecture of Edinburgh and the way the history has been preserved really staggering. The city is built atop itself, so alleys (like the one above--doesn't it look like something out of Harry Potter?) are common to climb from one level to the next. Businesses are burrowed right in, and you can often find gems tucked away in corners. S kept telling me stories of graverobbers and barrels concealing bodies that were rolled down these pathways, which adds a ghostly factor to wandering about at night, and a fun story during the day when it won't scare you!
The Royal Mile (behind the buildings in the distance) is a slightly longer-than-a-mile stretch of cobblestone road that extends between Edinburgh Castle on the cliffs (the very first picture in this post) to Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Scotland. It's full of buildings built in the 1500s and still maintains the architecture and some of the businesses from over 500 years ago. Pubs, souvenir shops and boutiques line the street and it's impossible not to fall for the charm every brick exudes. Off Princes Street (the street I was taking the photo from) is the Christmas Market, a carnival of rides, food booths and Christmas crafts. The colors of the market were so fun to contrast with the earthy tones of the city. Not to mention...Christmas cider warms you up and the smells of desserts are enough to make one swoon. Let's just say S and I were a little happy with all the food and drinks available.
At the end of Royal Mile stands Arthur's Seat, cliffs that overlook the city and water. I made it exactly halfway before throwing a temper tantrum (yes. I am a toddler.) but it is worth it to go up even that much, just for the views. The greenery still blows my mind...it's the middle of December, people, how is it so stinking pretty?!
Everyone recognizes the red phone booths that England has made famous--and here too, they are common sites for photographs by tourists. I took this picture before an amazing dinner at Ecco Vino. Just up the street was the Giles Cathedral, a 900 year old church with an incredible steeple shaped like a crown. If you get the chance, you should look it up--photos required a fee so I didn't take too many and I don't want to post what S teases me as "stolen photographs".
Outside of being a history buff, another thing I am known for (along with my best friend Melissa) is being a monster Harry Potter fan. Did you know Edinburgh is where JK Rowling wrote the first book? So many of the small winding streets and the groundkeepers' cottage at Holyrood Palace are reminiscent of Diagon Alley and Hagrid's hut. The city oozes with magic (no pun intended) and HP imagery is everywhere. As a writer, it suddenly made sense where some of the strongest worldbuilding came from. The trip served as inspiration for how an author picks up their surroundings and can create a world or story out of those settings by injecting their own creativity in, and how each and every author owns their story and makes surroundings their own.
Overall...this trip was incredible. Despite a couple of bumps in the road like being sleepy the entire weekend (and henceforth emotional), I fell in love on this trip. The story was beautiful and every second was one I wouldn't take back for anything.