My exciting vacation time continued on after my family left on New Year’s Day, when I left the next morning for the fascinating city of Edinburgh. I never would have given any thought to visiting here if it weren’t for my English friend Katherine suggesting it as a trip we do together over the holidays, which I’m so grateful to her for! (It was her fifth visit, but we still were awe-struck together). As my mom pointed out, it’s the first place I’ve been (so far) where neither of my parents have been first, which is an accomplishment according to my globe-trotting (sans children) parents.
We spent an excellent 3 nights in the city, firstly with a warm welcome from a family friend, and the last two where I spent my first time in a pretty great hostel. We spent our days doing a copious amount of tours, some paid for, some free, and one of which we managed to tag along with….
I would definitely recommend the Sandeman’s free walking tour which I think is offered in many major cities in Europe, and is tips-only. It was an extremely long 3 hours but because the city is so small we actually walked around the old town about three times! By the end of it, I knew absolutely everything there is to know about the city, the country, and its wacko history. That is, until we visited an abandoned underground neighborhood on another tour, and the Edinburgh castle, and took part in a literary pub tour. Now I am seriously an Edinburgh genius, and could possibly return to run a tour there myself. As long as you bring up Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and ghosts, people will think you know it all!
On top of the ridiculous amounts of walking, I also got to try some well-known Scottish staples such as haggis (ok, it may or may not have been vegetarian, but even the real one wasn’t served in a sheep’s stomach!), shortbread, and my favourite, chips & curry. No, whiskey was not on the agenda but I did taste some ales that were way too dark.
Another highlight was walking up to Arthur’s Seat. It was nice to be surrounded by some green for a change, in January, and get a view of the beautiful city and the sea beyond from a natural elevation instead of from the many different monuments that tower over Paris.
Of course, the trip wouldn’t have been complete without a visit to the café where J.K. Rowling first wrote Harry Potter. It’s not surprising that with a beautiful view that looks out onto the castle and a beautiful private school, her vision of Hogwarts was formed here.
Aside from the extremely lengthy travel days on either end thanks to budget airlines and my own keenness for being way too early, the biggest difficulty in Scotland was the language. You may think they speak English there, but alas you would be mistaken. I literally had more trouble understanding store clerks, waiters, and bartenders with their crazy accents that I have understanding French people (in FRENCH). It’s back to the grind (if you can call it that) tomorrow morning, but at least I’ve got a toddler that missed me crazy amounts to wake up in the morning. Maybe she’ll be more grateful and respectful now that she’s barely seen me for 2 weeks? Well, a lass can hope.