Sunday, June 10, 2012

I love Edinburgh.

So we arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland at like 1:30 in the afternoon, and it was FREEZING and so overcast and cloudy and rainy leaving the train station. Didn't pack for this cold of weather.

We had about a ten minute walk to our "hotel"- basically an old house or something, we took up almost the whole place with like 3-4 people per room, so that tells you how small it is.

our VERY pink hotel room

We had a little bit of time to settle and unpack, and then we were off to head back to the train station to take a bus tour of Edinburgh. It was a double decker bus, but the top was uncovered and in the gross weather, most of us opted to stay inside down below. The tour took us through New Town and Old Town of Edinburgh- the tour guide compared it to The Tale of Two Cities- but Edinburg's version as a place with two towns contrasting.

It was good to get oriented, but I was exhausted and I couldn't see much and the gloomy weather wasn't too thrilling, so it wasn't the best thing ever.

Afterward, a group of like 5 or 6 of us stopped in Topshop to browse, and then went to H&M where I bought a few sweaters- definitely a necessity. Layers are CRUCIAL and I just don't have enough of them for how cold it is here.

We ended up walking quite a ways to find a restaurant Charlotte had recommended, but we ended up finding it. It was Amanda (my roommate)'s birthday! So we got fun drinks to celebrate- mine was called Riveting Rasberri, a mix of champagne, raspberry vodka, and Chambord. Tasted delicious at first, then got SUPER strong.

me and the birthday girl!
I got a Caesar salad to eat...bad idea. Had anchovies on top and a ridiculously fishy flavor to the dressing...way more than the states. Not good for this veg girl. Didn't eat it at all, but I finished my drink (after spending money on it, I was determined to)...which led to quite a bad headache. We stopped at a grocery store on the way home and I grabbed a sandwich and some snacks and we bought Amanda a birthday cake!

Back at the hotel, everyone came up to our room to have cake and just hang out and drink, and it was such a fun evening!

We wanted to go out to a karaoke bar with the whole group, but after a lot of researching and calling around, we realized it wasn't really gonna happen. We all set off in search of a bar we had heard about, The Three Sisters. We wandered in the cold rain for a while and personalities and frustrations flared up and it got to be crazy, and Faith and I bailed and just came back to the hotel. The group ended up finding a cheap and fun bar and had a great night, but I was glad to have time to myself to just relax and then be able to finally skype Kyle in China! Haven't been able to talk to him except through a few sporadic emails when we get wifi, so it was awesome to see him and hear about his adventures! Such a good way to end the night.

Woke up early for breakfast at the hotel at 8- lots of pastries, yogurt, fruit, scrambled eggs, coffee. Yum.

By 9:30 we met at the hotel and left for our tour of Edinburgh Castle. We walked there and it was a bit of a hike with quite a few stairs, but we got there and it was SO impressive. We were part of a guided tour, but I was too distracted by the incredible views of Edinburgh from where we were that I didn't really listen too much.

approaching the entrance to the castle

views! ahhh!

Amanda and I with the views in the background
We were led through the castle with the tour- saw the oldest buildings and the newest ones (the castle was destroyed except for one chapel at one point), and then had time to explore on our own and take pictures and such!

We left the castle and wandered through the city streets, eventually splitting up to get lunch in smaller groups (my group got cheap sandwiches at a cafe and ate outside). The weather is SO unpredictable- it would be hot and sunny, then two minutes later be crazy windy and freezing and pouring rain, then two minutes later be crazy. My jacket came on and off so many times. My second umbrella of the trip broke to the point where it wouldn't stay open and then the handle fell had to buy another one. Getting sick of this, but it's at least a game now to see how long they'll last!

Bought an awesome totally Scottish big wool sweater that I'm so excited about, and then we were off to go climb Arthur's Seat (aka highest point in Scotland!)

We had quite a ways to walk to get to where the walk/hike/adventure started. It was SO steep at first, and I started getting worried that my knee wouldn't hold up for the whole thing. It definitely didn't look as steep and challenging when we were on the ground, and of course I was all bundled up in tons of layers which meant I was sweating like crazy and not too thrilled about it all haha. We kept going and it eventually leveled out and our group stopped to take pictures while the rest of people kept going.

The rest of the group except for Liz, Ian, and I went on to the veryyyy top of the peak but I knew my knee wouldn't be able to handle it. The three of us explored little ridges and cliffs and such on our own and just laid down in the grass and talked and took pictures for a few hours- it was so fun and relaxing and crazy gorgeous. We were able to see everyone when they were at the very top too, which was awesome!

Some of the group came down and met us at the bottom, and the rest went down a different way. We hung out in the grass for a while but it was ridiculously windy and we were all getting hungry and tired of just sitting there, so we left and walked back quite a ways to go to the cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. There was a long line so we ended up leaving to eat at Nando's- an awesome restaurant with lots of chicken (veggie burger for me!). So good.

Amanda and I left when the group went to get dessert, stopped in some shops for souvenirs, and then came back to the hotel. All the wind had given me an insane migraine, so I crashed at 8 with my clothes on, completely not expecting to stay asleep all night, which I did. Woke up at 3 am completely disoriented, but headache free! All of the group ended up crashing early, we all were exhausted and just needed to sleep apparently!

Off to explore on our last day in Scotland- I'm going to be sad to leave this gorgeous place.

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