Kev was working in Scotland for the week and I’ve wanted to go to Edinburgh all year, so I jumped at the opportunity to fly over and meet him there for the weekend, then take the train down to London together for the week. I was hyper-conscious of needing to get up so early on Friday (4:15am) that I got no sleep Thursday night. I had a great taxi driver to the airport, ate a nasty egg and cheese Burger King breakfast sandwich, and walked up to my gate just as they announced boarding.
Kev had said he thought I’d be on a tiny propeller plane; it looked like he was right when I stepped through the gate only to go down some steps and onto a bus. We drove and drove, and got to a tiny plane – my jaw dropped. Thankfully, we passed it, driving down a whole row of propeller plans until we got to ours, which must have seated around 50 people. There was a stag party on-board, which lightened the atmosphere a bit. We landed early, I found the bus to town, and I waited for Kev at Waverly Train Station.
When he showed up, we set off to drop our bags at our AirBnB host’s place. Our host buzzed us in, but since her previous guest was still sleeping in the room, we left our bags in the living room and took what we needed for the day. That brief encounter turned out to be the only interaction we had with her all weekend!
The rain that had been falling all morning eventually stopped, so we walked through the Princes Street Gardens, the deep chasm at the base of the castle. It was amazing. On our host’s recommendation, we went to a café called The Elephant House. “The ‘birthplace’ of Harry Potter,” it’s where J. K. Rowling did a lot of writing. We had tea and jacket potatoes and cake and sat and hung out for ages.
We walked around more. I had pretty high expectations for Edinburgh, and they were massively exceeded. Every building was ornate and beautiful and detailed (but not showy, just old), and all different from each other, but still complimentary in style. The streets folded over each other, sometimes ending in a staircase up to a tunnel between buildings, sometimes leaking into alleys leading to quiet interior courtyards. I loved every street name; I loved the dramatic mountains in the background one way and the massive Firth of Forth in the other; I loved all the beautiful and well-cared-for green spaces; I loved that there were multiple cafes on every block; I loved that everything was so old. I just loved everything.
We ended up at the castle entrance. Admission was STEEP: £16.50 ($26.75) each or something, but we had an amazing time, jumping onto a free tour that was beginning just as we got there. It was led by an energetic Frenchwoman who told lots of jokes. She told us about all the different buildings and exhibits from the outside, preparing us to do our own informed exploring afterwards, which we did. It was fantastic, and the sun had come out so we could see the incredible views. We both felt like we got so much out of the experience.
We wanted to have an early dinner because we were planning on going to a storytelling open mic at 7:30. Kev did brilliantly, doing all the navigating with his phone, and we made our way to a vegetarian restaurant called David Bann. It was really yummy, but Kev was absolutely slammed with a wave of fatigue that made him struggle to sit up. Thankfully the food and a coffee perked him back up, and we went to the storytelling as planned, which happened to be held in a pub at the top of the same street.
It was fun! A lot of the stories and storytellers were very good, though the host was like a 55-year-old bossy little boy who wanted to show off. People sang as well, which was cool. The group took over the upstairs of this pub, which felt like a living room. We were so happy that we went – a great non-touristy thing to do as a tourist, especially since they turned out to be mostly Scottish folk stories rather than people talking about real-life things that had happened to them. We stayed until around 10, ducking out one or two stories from the end, and got a cab back to the apartment.
Days two and three in the next post!