This weekend our entire group traveled to London for a couple of meetings for class and afterward my roommate and I headed out for Scotland.
I had never truly been interested in visiting Scotland but I am SO glad I had the opportunity. From the get go I loved everything about it. We arrived to the train station around 11:30 Thursday night, now normally this would be an extremely sketchy time as it would be super dark but the sun had just set around 11...after about half an hour of trying to figure out how to get to our hotel, we finally found the right bus.
On the bus there was this nice man with a dog who was trying to help us out and tell us which stop to get off at, I had been warned however by my big brother that dusk to dawn the drunks come out, I could definitely smell alcohol on his breath and he was slurring his words together so I limited the information I gave him. The point to this story is that even the crazy drunks are really helpful. He genuinely wanted to help-I feel a bit bad that I was a wee bit short with him but I didn't want to be stupid and tell him where we were staying.
Everyone was so friendly there. Our hotel staff was fabulous! They were so helpful in finding the right buses and making sure we found our way back to the hotel.
The first full day we were in Edinburgh we wanted to get an early start to have as much time as possible-we planned to be out of the hotel on the bus by 8:30, sadly I woke up and checked my phone which told me it was 8:50-oops! Normally this wouldn't pose too much of a problem but my roommate has a family friend in Edinburgh who is a tour guide at the Edinburgh Castle, he got us free tickets to the castle and was going to let us tag along on his tour. Sadly we missed the tour but with a bit of craziness and running up and down edinburgh we made it in time to get our tickets and explore the castle on our own. Davie, the family friend, was amazing. He wanted to buy us lunch after he picked up his grandkids from school (they are 6 and 8), he said he would be at a certain restaurant at 12:30. We made sure not to be late this time...and after another bit of running around the city and stopping in for directions here and there we found it!
We ate fish and chips at Davie's recommendation, and it was so good! And he paid for it, it was fun to be with him, as he knew everyone and was a regular at this restaurant. After we ate we stopped to get the grandkids ice cream and in turn he got us some as well. The restaurant staff gave him 5 ice-creams for free, one for each of us. Luckily they had lemon ice cream which is dairy free! :)
After we ate he took us on a mini walking tour of the royal mile and that area, he knew everyone on the streets and in the shops. I felt so cool hanging out with him and his grandkids. When we passed the Queens palace, they were preparing for the Queens annual visit (tomorrow), so we saw the rehearsal of what will actually happen. Another plus of hanging out with Davie-he was wearing his kilt. After we parted ways, the grandkids were eager to start their summer holiday, we stopped into a few stores, mostly bookstores, here and there and explored Old Town, which was too pricy for me. We also went into The Elephant House, which is know for being the "birthplace of Harry Potter." I can definitely see where J.K. Rowling got some of her inspiration. Sitting in the coffee shop sipping my coffee and looking out the window that overlooked the Edinburgh Castle I felt like I was in one of the books/movies.
After all of this we were exhausted, and all of the shops and such close around 6:30, so we made our way back to the hotel and were able to relax for a while. It was such a great day and we had time that evening to unwind which has not been a common theme here on this study abroad trip.
The next morning we got a bit of a later start, as we were still exhausted from the previous day. We headed out for the National Musuem of Scotland (it's free), and explored that for about an hour and a half. There was this one staff member that seemed to be everywhere we were. We would leave from upstairs to go to the ground level and then there he was. Maybe we just look like art thieves, who knows... Afterward we went out into the garden area and sat for a while. It was so fun to see the families in the park, it was so peaceful and fun-quite relaxing! Then it was time for the farmers market, we didn't spend too much time here as we were wanting to spend as little money as possible but it was really cool, I wasn't to keen on seeing the entire pig being chopped up and served-including the head.
Now it was time to be adventurous. Don't worry I didn't go skydiving or bungee jumping-I told my parents I wouldn't, we hiked up to Arthur's Seat. It was a crazy long hike and quite steep but well worth it. After that we are exhausted but we still had one more mission- souvenir shopping, we were pressed for time and so we had to hunt. We found some and decided to call it a night.
I will post pictures of the different things I talked about as soon as I can, all of my pictures are on my phone and I am currently on a train...