Hello everyone! Welcome back (switching post day to Thursday because it just makes sense) and I hope you are ready because this Scotland journey has been the craziest yet! With exams and essays finally turned in, and a whole lot of free time before the new term, I left for Edinburgh on the 22nd. I went with Laura, another one of the english major exchange students. It was a nice change from traveling alone, but definitely required a bit of adjusting the way that I normally travel around. However, the change was good because it allowed for new experiences and a different outlook on the traveling that I was doing.
After a 7 hour train ride we had finally arrived in Edinburgh, around 3 o’clock, and checked into our hostel. The dorms had 12 beds, triple bunks, and while it was great in terms of the city centre location it is definitely not one I would pick again. Of course after a long day on the train we were both famished, so we went to the Elephant House. The food was absolutely delicious and apparently J.K. Rowling spent a lot of time there while she was writing Harry Potter (I definitely could see why with such a gorgeous view of the castle. After food we decided to just walk around the Royal Mile and the town to check out a couple stores. Once we did a bit of shopping we headed back to the hostel for a bit to plan out what we should see on which days. I came up with most of the things that we should do, and then we went to the mall to get dinner. We were back in the hostel by 8pm because I was absolutely exhausted. I hadn’t slept well the night before so after a full day I was definitely ready for bed. Plus I knew we would have a busy day the next day and wanted to be well rested.
Our second day started around 10am and we went all the way to the end of the Royal Mile to tour the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Holyrood Abbey. It was absolutely stunning and I was sad that we couldn’t take any pictures inside the Palace, but I made sure to take plenty outside. The atmosphere was so nice and since the weather was nice I could have spent the whole day just admiring the view. It was the perfect start to the day and the Queen’s Gallery was a great unplanned addition. We got to see sketches and drawings from Leonardo Da Vinci, which was a really great experience. I had not realised he had done so many different things. We also checked out the People’s Story Museum and the Museum of Childhood. Both of them were free so it was nice to just walk around and take in the different stories. The People’s Story Museum was my favourite of the two because it showed the story of Scotland with different times and setups. Lots of wax figures that were cool, but also a wee bit creepy. After we did some more shop wandering and then went back to the hostel for a quick break to regroup. We then went to another main street to look for some dinner. We ended up at a really cute pub that was pretty delicious. After dinner we went back to the hostel around 8:30pm. We made sure to call it an early night because the next day was our day tour and we had to meet the bus at 8am.
The day trip! This is my second time taking a day trip, and I absolutely love everything about them. You get to nap in between trips in order to catch up on some much needed sleep. Plus you get to see some really amazing sights that you wouldn’t get to see otherwise. During the tour to get to our final stop we did photo stops in a couple different places. As we drove we passed horse statues, castles, and gorgeous views. Glencoe was amazingly gorgeous and I really loved getting to look out the window during the bus ride. The photo opportunities were perfect, and the tour guide provided excellent commentary. When we finally got to Loch Ness (loch is the Scottish word for lake) we got to tour Urquhart Castle. The castle was really just ruins, but it was really nice to see something other than a fully formed castle. It also had a really great view of Loch Ness. Unfortunately I never got to see Nessie so I’m out 10 million pounds. The boat ride back to the bus was thankfully not as cold as I was expecting which was definitely good. We got to see the sunset, but still no Nessie even though I was keeping an eye out the whole time. I slept for most of the bus ride back.
Edinburgh Castle! After spending most of the previous day sitting it was really nice to get to walk around the giant castle. Unfortunately it was insanely windy which made things really difficult to enjoy walking around outside. The castle had some really nice different indoor galleries to view which helped to stay warm. Plus I got to see the crown jewels and honestly what is better than that. I’ll tell you, the scones guys. I went for a little break in the cafe and decided to get a scone and it was so insanely delicious. I thought about getting a second one, but had lunch plans so I couldn’t. Though they were by far my favourite scones ever. Then Laura and I met up and went to the bookstore, which was obviously fantastic. Once we picked out our books I decided I needed to finally trump my sushi craving. So we checked out a sushi place that was conveniently right next to the bookstore. It wasn’t California good, but it was still pretty delicious. After that we booked tickets for the ghost tour! After dinner, don’t worry the time between food was spent walking around different stores and stuff. The ghost tour was definitely the level of spooky I was hoping for, and it had a seriously cute tour guide. He did such a great job being spooky and really put on such a great show. I think I was momentarily in love with him because I was definitely impressed by his acting skills and storytelling abilities. Definitely didn’t sleep very well that night.
The last day in Scotland was such a perfect wrap up of the trip. We got a really nice breakfast at a place close to the hostel. As a quick side note I am slightly obsessed with poached eggs now. Thanks England. After our late breakfast and a bit of wandering we went to the Chocolatorium (I think that’s the right spelling) to make our own chocolate! It was a really great tour and it was nice to learn a lot more about such a delicious snack. Once we had finished learning we got to make our own chocolate. Mine looks perfect, obviously. Plus we got to eat a bunch of chocolate which is always such a good time. Once we finished feasting on chocolate it was time to head back to the train station for the long journey home.
I really loved Scotland and I am so glad that I decided to go and that I brought someone along with me. Now I am just waiting for classes to start up again and start getting a routine again. I am also now planning a trip with Molly, who as you might know is currently studying in the Netherlands. I am really excited to get to see her and spend some time traveling with her in Europe. I also can’t wait for Molly, Kara and me to start traveling at the beginning of the summer! So make sure to stay tuned for the adventures that are yet to come! Love and miss you all.