UK and Ireland 2014: Edinburgh – The Medieval Playground

Day 2 

Edinburgh greeted us with open arms the minute we stepped into Waverley station. As if the lusciously green scenery build-up on the train was not enough, our first meal upon arrival was the best baked potato we ever had and the flat we had rented for the time here has a freaking garden in the back! Did I mention peoples’ accents here are awesome? Clearly, I’m setting you up for a story of an incredible couple of days.

And yes, I do mean stories, so bear with me. So here’s the rundown of where we…

Slept: A shared flat in a quiet area of the city about a mile away from Old Town. It was comfortable, warm, and easy-to-navigate for foreigners unaccustomed to things like shower switches, radiators, and funky key boxes. Speaking of showers, the only downside was the temperamental shower that seemed to love challenging me. Overall, though, it was a HUGE upgrade from our London place, which felt both literally and figuratively colder. Given the proximity to the city center, we would gladly stay there again.

Indulged: After settling in, we served our starving stomachs at Tailend, a great “chippy” near our flat along Leith Walk. What’s nice about this place is that you can make it as casual or fancy as you desire, as it offers both takeaway and sit-down options.

Adventured: Now we’re talkin’. Pubs, pubs, and more pubs. But seriously, what else does one do in Scotland? After practically inhaling a mound of chips (yes, paleo met the window and went out of it that night – nightshade inflammation, come at me bro!) and a barrel of cullen skink, we headed out and landed at The Royal Mile Tavern in Old Town. As it was our first night in the city, we chose to take a taxi and rely on our driver’s bar-smarts to direct us somewhere fun. The Tavern delivered, and even had live music to boot, with a pair of Scotsmen belting out everything from the Eagles to Bob Marley. We ended up meeting locals who escorted us to our next venue, Whistle Binkie’s. While The Tavern ran a bit more traditional, WB’s was a slightly younger crowd with punkier music and a more underground vibe. Much fun was had and, naturally for June and myself, dancing happened.

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The Royal Mile Tavern: Where good old fashioned whiskeys are so good, they light up the room.
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Jammin’ at Whistle Binkie’s.

We ended our evening/early morning with a private, free walking tour of Old and New Towns generously given by one of our new local friends. These are the moments that can neither be planned, nor would you even see coming anyway. Somehow, these moments are the most brilliant. The perspective of the city is so surreal at night, particularly given the multi-level structure of it. Edinburgh is essentially a town built on a series of other towns, which makes for some awesome alleyways and walking hills. It’s an old, medieval establishment through and through. There are cobblestone streets, castle-like buildings, and unspoiled spots of greenery. During the day, the city is so overwhelmed by the bustle of people that it distracts from the pure, historical beauty of the city. If you don’t mind the fact that I’m merely an amateur iPhoneographer, see below…

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The Scotsman Hotel. Crossing from Old Town to New.
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The Royal Mile by late night. Usually touristy but has a few great gems of restaurants nestled in the alleyways.
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Demonstrative of the ways of the alley…the alleyways.
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This was cool. Apparently you’re supposed to spit on the “heart” of the city for good luck. Do you think we passed by this and didn’t do it?!
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Admittedly-Instagrammed photo of June and I performing ninja stunts in front of the National Gallery of Scotland. Yes, we’re awesome.
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The Victorian-Gothic marvel that is the Scott Monument. Absolutely breathtaking at night, filtered or not. Speaking of, is “Leaning Tower of Pisa” already a border option, or can I patent that?!

 

We got home around 4:00, this time by walking like any sensible individual traveling in Europe. Edinburgh in late May is surprisingly tolerable weather-wise, even at night, so it was an extremely pleasant walk even though we were tired. Random observation: the sun doesn’t set until like 10:00 pm each night during this time of year and it rises around 4:30ish. Between the activities we do at night and the little we sleep thereafter, we really haven’t seen full-on darkness while here. Anyways, fatigued as we were, this didn’t stop us from giggling at ourselves for how often we seem to find ourselves in lucky, unprecedented situations. We slept from 5:00 am to 3:00 pm the next day, thus indicating the level of sleep we needed.

I assure you that the next day was not wasted, but I will have to recount it in the next entry. Dang it, Readership. I told myself that I wouldn’t ramble in my future entries and I totally have been. Can I just brand it as my personal style? I seem to have a penchant for excessive, grandiose words and stories that make you wish you were there.

Ah, I don’t hate it.

Oh, and…day 3’s comin’ up shortly.

Thought of the day: The best moments in life are often the results of original plans taking a different path than expected.

 

 

 

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