Posts Tagged With: scotland

Back Across the Pond

My 2014 adventure abroad is over. While mom and dad finished packing before the taxi arrived, I went for a walk. The sun was just rising, and the majority of the people I passed were kids in uniforms heading off to school. I had to bundle up, because the weather was definitely in the process of transitioning into fall and winter. (Meanwhile, it was 80F when we landed back at home.) It was a peaceful morning before the tedious, 11+ hour travel day ahead.

Taking the internship in London is definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made… And I was already feeling a bit homesick for the tiny, shoebox-sized room I had in my London flat, with the almost revolving door of interesting flatmates from all over the world. I was definitely planning on how to get back to this side of the pond again before we even left Edinburgh. Until next time, UK and Europe.

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The Elephant House

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Since I never made it to The Elephant House the first time I was in Edinburgh, I definitely had to go this time. Especially after all my Potter sightseeing in London.

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Potter wall art.

It just so happened that we were all hungry, so I insisted we eat at the cafe. Of course, they have a giant sign out front proclaiming themselves the “birthplace of Harry Potter.” While I know it is probably in their best interests to exaggerate that fact, I still actually really enjoyed eating there. You could see the school that supposedly “inspired” Hogwarts from the window… as well as the cemetery where Rowling apparently got some character names.

(Dad had to run back to our apartment after we ate to grab something, so mom and I ran down to the cemetery to find some names! We did indeed find the headstone of Thomas Riddell Esq., as well as a McGonagall and others.)

Within the cafe… the main Potter “attraction” was definitely the toilets… I went in mainly to take pictures. Countless people had signed the walls, written down quotes and references, and generally covered every available surface with words and drawings. It was hilarious when mom came running back to our table after she discovered it, and told me I needed to take my camera into the bathroom.

(The mirror told me, “You have dirt on your nose, did you know? Just there.” Complete with an arrow pointing at my face.)

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So. Much. Writing.

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Edinburgh

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The view from outside Edinburgh castle.

One day I am going to run away to Scotland forever – though I think I might need a vacation home somewhere else for when I get tired of the cold. Not sure I could live so far north year-round.

Both times I have been in Scotland, I spent most of my time in Edinburgh (I’d love to take a few weeks or a month to just wander around the entire country, though). Once our little traveling circus got off the train and got a taxi to our little rented apartment – on the Royal Mile! perfect tourist location – we headed out to explore and find dinner. It was windy and cold, of course, so I got to use the coat I just bought a few days prior in York.

Before arriving I had planned on making it to the top of Arthur’s Seat for the second time. With the weather heralding the start of winter, mom and dad, unfortunately, did not want to climb Arthur’s Seat. I admit, it was a bit colder and windier than the first time I had gone up it (I was wearing a t-shirt). Dad and I did hike up for a few minutes, which gave us a great view for picture-taking. I love being able to see the sea from various points in Edinburgh, and then turn around and see the rest of the city.

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A picture of me taking pictures.

Once again, Dad and I did a bit more walking around in Edinburgh than mom. The second day we sat in Starbucks and walked through a few really, really gorgeous churches until the rain stopped, skipping the first free walking tour scheduled for the morning. Once the weather had improved from downright miserable to just cold and windy, we joined the huge IMG_2626group of tourists waiting for the next Sandeman’s tour. Our guide was entertaining (as they all usually are), and as I was attempting to pay attention to him and keep an eye on dad at the same time…. I lost dad.

He (and a few others from the group) had stopped to take a picture while the rest of the (rather large) group crossed the street. By the time he looked up, the traffic lights had changed and he and the others with him had to wait until they could cross. By the time they had crossed…. we had taken a sharp right turn into a dark narrow alley. So, I paid a bit more attention to where he was after that. I also voted him Most Likely to Get Left Behind on Family Vacations. Due to taking pictures, of course.

Losing family members and cold rain paired with violent gusty winds aside, Edinburgh is still one of my favorite places to visit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen architecture in person quite like what you see around the Royal Mile. The ease of escaping the buildings to the complete wilderness of the area encompassing Arthur’s Seat is undoubtedly part of it’s appeal as well.

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No matter how much time we spent walking around the city, I could not get over the architecture. All of the stonework is stunning, and I will forever love colorful shop fronts.

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle

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Ask Me About Free Walking Tours

Free. Walking. Tours. What’s not to like? You get to explore a fabulous city in the most up-close way possible with some of the most entertaining tour guides you will ever meet. After this summer, I am officially a walking endorsement for Sandeman’s New Europe tours (and any other tip-only walking tours – looking at you, York, Venice, & Rome).

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I met my first London friends (as well as the Bathrobe Crusader – look it up, haha) on my first London tour.

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I (along with Angela, Laura, and Lily) got one of the most entertaining history lessons in Dublin.

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No group pictures were taken on my Venice & Rome walking tours – but they were both fantastic. So many iconic sights!

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I took my parents on the London walking tour when they came to visit – and I was just as entertained the second time around.

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Dad & I were the only ones to show up to the non-Sandeman’s York tour in the cold rain. (This one deserves its own post.)

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Dad & I also went on the Edinburgh tour – where we ended up buying tickets for a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle for all three of us the next day.

Some of my best traveling stories from 2014 happened during or because of a free walking tour. I think I remember more history from one 3 hour tour than any semester of class. It is also an excellent way to get in some great exercise without realizing it. And it is always a treat to see a new city from the perspective of someone who lives there. So if you’re ever in a city with Sandeman’s, go!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

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