Unsurprisingly, between my week days cramped with classes and my weekends consumed with travel, I have fallen quite far behind in my blog. In celebration of my wonderful mother’s birthday today, I thought I would take a few moments to share some more of my traveling experiences with her at home.
My first trip outside of the country of England was to Edinburgh, Scotland. Confusingly enough, the city is pronounced “Edinborough” by visitors, and even more confusingly “Edinburah” by the locals. After a couple of months of living in the UK, I’ve gained a better grasp on the pronunciation, but you try to keep track of where people are visiting when there are three different names for one city! I have a new found appreciation for visitors of Louisville.. I’ll try to keep Edinburgh in mind when I call out people who insist on saying “Looeyville” or even worse, “Lewisville,” once I return to the bluegrass in May!
Fortunately, Edinburgh is relatively close compared to many of the places I have traveled this semester. It only took a four hour train ride! This being our first independent trip of the semester, it did come with it’s fair share of trails and tribulations though. We began our trip with a stop at the great KFC, which is extremely popular here in the UK, for a nostalgic dinner from home before we set off. From this stop, the two male travel companions of the group were determined they knew a short cut to the train station… I hope you see where this story is leading us. Shocker! Our group of six quickly got lost in Grantham city, finding ourselves in a small subdivision where we came across one of our professors who gave us a heartbreaking reply that the train station was still far off. With a point in the right direction, the quickest speed walking we’ve ever done, and all the girls in the group biting their tongues, we reached the train station with only a minute to spare. To all my male readers, please learn to ask for directions!
Our late night arrival at the hostel was exciting, as this was our first true experience in the grimy and too public hostels we had heard so much about! Our hostel room of 10 beds was named “The Solar System Room,” with each bed having a planet name. Disappointingly enough, I was given the Moon, the only non-planet bed in the room! Despite that minor set back, and our Chinese roommates who seemed to only need two hour increments of sleep, waking us up with every entrance and exit, I loved our hostel! It was a great introduction to the hostel life I’ve been living on my travels ever since.
Much of our day in Edinburgh was rainy and cold, but we still managed to see much of the beautiful Old City side of this Scottish capital. We began the day hiking Arthur’s Seat, a group of volcanic crags, at 6:00 AM to watch the sun rise over the city. Hiking up muddy hills in the dark was no easy task, but the view at the top was well worth it.
View from the top of Arthur’s Seat before sunrise
After the sun rose on Edinburgh City
After cleaning ourselves up, we attempted to visit the Edinburgh Castle, but the unending rain and steep entry charge kept us from entering. The rest of our day consisted of finding neat places to escape the weather, including the Elephant House, a cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter novel. We stopped into the Central Library of Edinburgh for an exhibit on the Scot’s contributions to the World from A-Z. Random fact: The Scots invented Marmalade! Another place that caught our attention and kept us dry was the Writer’s Museum, which primarily focused on the lives of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Rabbie Burns. This weekend to Scotland was superbly timed actually, unbeknownst to us, as it fell on the day the Scottish celebrate Robert (Rabbie) Burns, the national poet of Scotland. The day before our trip, we celebrated our own Harlaxton Burn’s Night with traditional Haggis, Scotch Whiskey, and performances of Rabbie’s poems and songs (ex. Auld Lang Syne). Being able to continue our celebration with the Scots that weekend was a pleasant surprise of our visit. Our last stops of the day were to the National Museum of Scotland, possibly the most massive museum I’ve ever visited, ending with a typical college drink in the Library Bar of the University of Edinburgh.
Although it was a quick and wet visit, our trip to Scotland was nearly perfect! Our train ride home was even serenaded by old Scottish men drunkenly singing in the early AM, in between jabs at each other’s wives of course, all while I gazed upon the beautiful Scottish countryside. I would say we achieved a fairly authentic experience of our first country outside of England! Look below for some more pictures of my favorite sites we saw along the way. I’ll try to be more timely with my posts, so keep a look out!
University of Edinburgh (est. 1583) Library Bar
The Elephant House (birthplace of Harry Potter)
Lunch at The Elephant House, just like J.K. Rowling!
Allie and I in the National Museum of Scotland, dressed as Vikings of course!
Scott Monument, dedicated to Sir Walter Scott
Bank of Scotland, easily my favorite building in Scotland!