I cannot say how happy I am to have been able to travel to this beautiful place. I absolutely loved it. Usually when you hear about places like this you can assume that the description is overdramatized, and that, while it may be beautiful, it is probably just as lovely as any other place in Europe. And after hearing so much about how wonderful it was I couldn’t wait to see if it was everything I expected it to be. But after being there, I can definitely confirm that Scotland just IS that beautiful. The green rolling hills, the misty climate, Edinburgh castle towering above the ancient city – all of it is no exaggeration. And to top it off, our hostel was located right at the foot of the castle, so we were a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile and had a fantastic view of the city.
We spent the first day walking around Edinburgh Castle and along the Royal Mile (the main road leading up to the castle) where you could hear bagpipes playing at all hours of the day. Oh, and I ate TONS of Scottish tablet, a very special candy bar (that is essentially pure sugar) only found in Scotland. This experience was better than anything I could have planned for!
Later that evening, after enjoying a delicious lunch of fish and chips (and in Amber’s case, Hagis, a very traditional U.K. dish) we went on a “Haunted Tour” of Edinburgh, where we were taken down to the old underground vaults beneath the city. They were like large empty caves underground that had been used and lived in by some many years ago, but abandoned when the city was rebuilt. Our tour guide told us stories of the different ghosts that were thought to live in each vault, and although we only went to three or four of them, I was more than ready to get out when it was done! And there’s nothing like having a ghost story told to you by someone with a Scottish accent.
The following day, we climbed Arthur’s Seat – a dormant Volcano – which gave us an incredible view of Edinburgh from above. At the start of our climb it was partly cloudy, but when we reached the top it began to snow. The sun soon came out again later, so by the time we got to the other side of the mountain it was nice and clear. All in a day’s work for Edinburgh!
Later, I ran into a street performer who had a large crowd of people around him. He was going to juggle flaming torches while standing on top of a tiny platform atop a six-foot pole- and he wanted my assistance. Naturally, I said no. Just kidding! I helped pass him the flaming torches, and I even got a round of applause at the end! It’s the little things that make your day special.
The rest of the day was equally wonderful. I went for a walk down to the beach and just around the city for a while. Sightseeing can be exhausting, but I think it is important to look beyond the landmarks and do something that involves experiencing the culture of the place a little more. One of my favorite moments of the trip was on our first night, when Amber, Rose and I went to a pub called the “Captain’s Bar” where we listened to live music and played chess. I have never felt more scottish in my life! I’m glad I had that experience, and it was one of my favorite moments of the trip. All in all, I think that this city was magical in every single way and I could not have asked for a better experience.