So. Edinburgh. It’s the one place besides London I’ve most wanted to visit in Europe, and it took until the last week of my time here to finally make it.
I took the train in Wednesday morning (4 1/2 hours) and, after finding my hostel without getting lost for once, I headed down into Old Town Edinburgh to explore. Most of the big attractions in Edinburgh are along like two major streets, so it doesn’t take long to get to them all. I saw St. Giles Cathedral, the National Library, the Writers’ Museum, a really elaborate tartan-making exhibition/museum that I found inside a gift shop and finally Edinburgh Castle. Then I headed over to Princes Street, which has some beautiful gardens, the Scottish National Gallery, the Scott Monument and a lot of shopping.
I made it to the Elephant House for dinner, which is the cafe that J.K. Rowling made famous by writing the first Harry Potter in; unfortunately I ducked in right before the rain (on and off all day) became a downpour, and I was not the only one with that idea, so it was pretty packed. It was a lovely little place, though.
After that I saw Greyfriars Kirk and the various memorials put up for Greyfriars Bobby the dog, then sort of accidentally wandered into the main campus of the University of Edinburgh. I left there and eventually made it over to the pub that happened to serve as the starting point for the Edinburgh Literary Pub Crawl.
I went on one of these in Dublin and absolutely loved it, so when I noticed a sign for the Edinburgh one that morning, I knew I had to go. If you don’t remember, a literary pub crawl is a sort of combination moving theatre performance/guided tour focused on the city’s famous literary figures, which happens to stop periodically at pubs. The Edinburgh one was different from Dublin in that most of the writers they focused on were poets, so there was less theatre and more poetry recitation. Also all of the famous Scottish poets were known for writing in Scots, which is more or less incomprehensible and I refuse to acknowledge it as a real language. It was still really interesting, though, and I learned a ton about Scottish literature.
The second day was divided into two main adventures. First, I went to the National Museum of Scotland, and even just staying in the half devoted to actual Scottish history only made it through half of that in the three hours I was there. Then I wandered down to the Scottish Parliament, where they actually let visitors inside, and saw the palace next to it that the Queen never actually comes to but is still an official residence.
Then it was time for my second main adventure: climbing Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is the tallest of a group of hills in the centre of Edinburgh once formed by volcanos; I like to think of it as climbing a volcano. It takes about 45 minutes to get up there, and the view from the top is incredible. After I made it back down it was getting a little difficult to walk, so I just headed back to New Town to see a few sights (and accidentally ran into a political protest on the way) before taking the overnight bus back to London.
Edinburgh was a fun two-day trip, with less Harry Potter and more actual learning about Scottish history and literature than I was expecting. It was a lovely last trip to have, and I will definitely be coming back some day for the Fringe Festival, the one highlight of Edinburgh I unfortunately couldn’t be there for. Now, time for all the photos!