The last stop of my Europe trip was Scotland. I spent most of my time there in the capital city of Edinburgh. I think that it is the perfect city to spend a couple of days visiting. Basically, there’s Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill (seriously, you can’t miss it) and the Royal Mile is a straight shot down to Holyrood Palace, which is where the queen of England stays when she’s in Scotland. In between are lots of cute little shops, plus during the day there are street performers and vendors and just general hooplah.
It’s a great city for exploring on foot and I never got bored during my time there. Plus the massive hill means lots of inclines and tons of steep staircases, so you get a workout in without even trying. But it never felt like a workout, which is one of the benefits of exploring new places.
I spent an entire morning exploring the castle and it still amazes me how much stuff is inside of those walls. They have a lot of little museums inside of the castle and the entire process is self-guided with an optional audio tour (which I highly recommend).
Edinburgh Castle is a definite must do for anyone visiting Edinburgh for the first time.
The same day that I explored the castle in the morning was also a day where the rain somewhat took over in the afternoon. Since I had a lot of things for camp piling up, I ended up finding a good table to sit at in my hostel’s common room and worked on camp stuff for six hours straight. I got into a groove and next thing I knew six hours had passed. Gotta love productivity spurts like those. Taking a chunk of the day to just sit still was probably good healing for my body as well.
Speaking of that hostel, it’s currently my favorite hostel that I’ve ever stayed at. While it’s technically a mega hostel, it doesn’t feel like it. Instead of just having room numbers, each room has a theme. I was in The Avengers room and instead of having a bed number, I had a character. Once again, I met some really great girls staying in this room, including girls from Canada and Australia. Plus the commons rooms were massive and had really high ceilings, so they had a really cool feel to them.
My biggest regret about my time in Edinburgh is the fact that I didn’t get to hike Arther’s Seat, which was near the top of my list of things to do there. That still bums me out. =( But I guess that means I have to go back!
This was my view from my room the day that I wanted to hike:
One of my favorite things in Scotland happened on night as I was walking back to my hostel after getting dinner. It had started raining while I was out getting dinner, so I had planned to just make a quick dash back to my hostel to try to figure out something that I could do inside for the evening. As I was walking back the rain suddenly cleared up and it looked like it was going to stop for a bit. I hesitated for a minute as I passed a random staircase because I was tempted to go exploring, but I hesitated due to the rain. In a spur of the moment decision I randomly went down that staircase to see where it led. I decided that if I got soaked in the rain getting back to my hostel that I didn’t care.
That next hour or so was amazing as I ended up making a huge long loop around the base of the castle. I kept thinking I should turn back the way I had come from so that I’d know how to get back, but I’m glad that I didn’t. I walked down an adorable street and saw a ton of cute restaurants that I wish I’d had time to go back and eat at, I found out that there was an old church and cemetery at the base of the castle’s hill, and best of all I found a huge park situated at the base of Castle Hill that I greatly enjoyed walking through. And a mile later when I came out on the other side of the castle I was near the popular shopping district in Edinburgh, which is something I hadn’t taken the time to check out due to doing other things instead.
I ended up having to hike back up to the Royal Mile from the opposite side via a series of long, steep staircases in order to get back to my hostel, but it was completely worth it for all of the cool places I got to see during my little exploration rendezvous. And it didn’t rain at all until after I made it back to my hostel! It was quite possibly the best random decision I made the entire trip.
And maybe I’m just easy to please when I’m traveling, but it’s not everyday that I get to see buildings like these, so I enjoy the simpleness of just walking through a city like this.
And in case anyone was worried, I did try a beer in Scotland. It was actually a different one than what I’d ordered (which was a lighter beer), but I drank it anyway. It wasn’t half bad. I told them I wanted to taste a local beer, so at least that worked out.