I know it’s been awhile since I last blogged, but during the week my social/travel life is very dismal and dull. This was the first full week of classes and I was trying to settle in and get two novels read by Friday…so I had to sacrifice a few things in order to stay on track. But this weekend I rewarded myself by heading to Edinburgh with some friends from school.
We left on Saturday morning and were surprisingly all on time for the bus into town and then the bus to Edinburgh. We arrived into the wonderful capital of Scotland around 11:00am and milled around and took in the scenery of Old Town and New Town Edinburgh. When it came time to eat lunch we saw a small restaurant next to our hostel and we decided to try it because they had some decently priced fish and chips. It opened just as we walked to the door and the owner came over to us later in the meal and told us that that was their first day open to customers and we were the very first ones. We all felt kind of special for giving this new restaurant its first taste of business:) We checked into our hostel around 1:00pm and once we checked our bags we headed up to the Castle. I would have paid to get in but it is expensive and half the time the outside is just as beautiful as the inside. Since we were staying in the Old Town section of Edinburgh, we were surrounded with beautiful architecture and history. The cathedrals and monuments were breathtaking, as well as the number of bagpipers, fully decked out in kilts.
Before we went to Edinburgh we didn’t have any sort of plan for where to go or what to see, so we wandered up and down the Royal Mile and a couple of side streets and visited a couple of pubs. Later that night we picked up a few drinks, got some of our favorite pizza from none other than Pizza Hut and sat in our hostel room playing cards with the two Katarina’s from Germany. Before dinner we decided to take the free ghost tour through town because, well, it was free! It was chilly and rainy, setting the mood, and the stories were interesting/ disturbing although I wasn’t as frightened as the promo broad said I was supposed to be. We headed out later on and did our own little pub crawl, trying to find a place not too crowded but not too dead. Since the Scotland V. Ireland rugby game played today, there was a ton of Irish fans who flew in to Edinburgh to watch it the night before, hence why all the pubs were packed. We stayed out until about 2 o’clock and then headed back to the comfort of our very chilly hostel for the night. I sadly was up until about 4 am due to a sudden urge to up-chuck all the food I had eaten that day, which seems to happen a lot when I travel:( Hopefully this isn’t a prelude as to how the rest of my travels will go:/
Today, we were up and checked out of the hostel at 10am and then headed to a little cafe across the street which had cheap and delicious food and 15% discounts for students. I had some amazing blueberry stackers, which are essentially like pancakes, but smaller and thicker. We then walked to the National Museum of Scotland, which was amazing (I was mainly impressed by the wildlife exhibit with the life size elephant!). Since the rugby game started at 2, we headed to a pub called The Advocates and ordered lunch and watched the game, and a great game it was! Ireland scored 8 in the first half but Scotland came back in the second half to win 12 to 8! The Irish customers weren’t so happy, but everyone got a free pint of beer if Scotland won (with the exception of me, because beer really just tastes like piss).
We finally got on the train around 5:30, but since there is construction at the Stirling rail station, we were shipped to Falkirk station and then bused to Stirling and then took a taxi back to campus; a slightly frustrating process but it was nice to walk into my closet-sized dorm room and finally shower! We had done a ton of walking, which my calves hate me for, and didn’t smell our freshest… In short, we were glad to be back:)
Although I didn’t come as prepared as I thought I did for the weekend, because I though Toms were practical walking shoes, especially through rain puddles, it was a great experience. It would have been nice to have had a more structured schedule but wandering had its perks as well; you know the phrase, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Since Edinburgh is so close, I am sure I will be visiting again to see even more of the vast capital city.
There are times that I forget that I am actually in Scotland, and I forget to soak in all that is around me, but trips like this weekend are a refreshingly slap to the face saying, “Wake Up! You are in Freaking Scotland!” It is so easy to find a new comfort zone when you are already so out of your original one and I don’t want to passively waste away my days staying on campus where I am most comfortable. I need to constantly challenge myself to create a wider and wider comfort zone (hopefully one that is world wide some day). Everyday poses a new challenge and these past two days have challenged me by depriving me of warmth and sunshine, the privilege of having my own room, the comforts of readily available food and water closets that don’t cost money to use (fyi: water closet means bathroom and I just wanted an excuse to use it) and so much more. I can’t say I accepted all of these challenges with a sincere smile on my face and 100% sarcasm free sense of optimism but it was a version of those two. Either way, I survived these very mild obstacles and they only added to the experience at hand.
This coming week is filled with “Give-it-a go’s” which is where new students on campus can try out different clubs and sports before joining. I am going to go to a couple of dance classes and a trampolining/ gymnastics one as well:) Wish me luck in not making a fool of myself! Then, next weekend we are off to Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland (I think)! I can’t wait to see what this week of adventures and challenges will hold:)