When I thought I was done planning my trips, I didn’t intend on going to Edinburgh or Scotland in general because flights were always quite expensive from Madrid (usually close to 200 Euros!). However, when I was looking at flights for fun and saw a flight for that weekend at an unusually low price (around 60 euros less), I couldn’t help but book on the spot! I booked the flight two weeks before I left, so I realized that this was going to be my first solo trip in Europe and thought it was a good way to test the waters (especially since it is an English-speaking country). It was also a very quick trip and I only had a day and a half. So, I planned on spending my time taking in as much as I could of the city center and focusing on this area alone. However, there was plenty to see, I got my steps in and was able to enjoy the sites and views safely and happily.
On the first day, my flight arrived around mid-day so I took the tram from the airport to the city center. I could NOT say enough nice things about the tram – it was clean, efficient, fast, had free wifi, was so cheap to take and got me exactly where I needed to be. Anyways, once I left the tram I headed over to the AirBnb where I got the keys to my room. I was in a beautifully restored 300 year old Georgian townhouse on the first floor. It was absolutely lovely and the bed was SO comfortable. However, once I got all checked in and was able to clean up a little, I decided to head out and grab some lunch while exploring the city. The weather was absolutely incredible with clear skies and beautiful sunsets. Most of the time I didn’t even need a jacket! I booked a walking tour for the evening called “The Dark Side of Edinburgh” which talked deep about the history of the city and it’s creepy yet cool past. The tour group walked around the city, through cemeteries, up and down hills and got a really cool perspective of how strange and cool this city is. My favorite fun fact was that the term “working the graveyard shift” comes from Scotland when people would lay on top on their loved one’s graves so that grave robbers wouldn’t take their bodies and sell them to the medical school. Pretty crazy, right? After the tour, I decided to explore some more and found a piano bar that was near my place. I ended up making friends with a group at the bar and we had a fun night hanging out, dancing and enjoying the night! My first day on my own was pretty great.
On the second day, I woke up nice and early to make the most of the day. I started out getting my most favorite breakfast food – a lox bagel! I had be dreaming of bagels since I last had one in Ireland in December! After breakfast, I had another tour planned and booked of the Real Mary King’s Close. A close is a small alleyway between rows of buildings, and this close in particular was built over years ago in order to build the City Chambers buildings. However, the close was still kept in tact and was renovated for people to visit underground! The tour went over a lot more of the history of the city and the insanely horrible conditions they lived in (think of the lack of sewage systems and throwing buckets of sewage into the streets…where the poor lived near). However, that obviously is all cleaned up and I enjoyed the tour immensely. After the tour, I decided that I was going to hike up to Arthur’s Seat, the monster of a hill that overlooks the entire city in a beautiful panoramic view. Although in actuality it wasn’t that high up, the path was on a steep incline most of the time, it was rocky and there was also a feeling of falling over in my head. Also, I wasn’t even close to prepared with the right clothes (thick socks, boots, sweater, heavy coat on a sunny 65 degree day – ugh). However, I hiked up that hill and enjoyed the beautiful views and it only took me around an half hour. So worth it! On the way down, I decided to treat myself to a little ice cream cone (partially because I was so overheated) and to get lunch at a little pub. After that, I headed back into the city center and did a little shopping. I had to pick up two Scottie ornaments for me and Alex and my parents as well. I walked up to the esplanade where the Edinburgh Castle is and was able to look around at the great views again. Afterwards, I went into this quirky optical illusion museum with a fish eye camera that looks over the city. It was super fun and a cute diversion from all of the history. As the sun was setting, I headed over to Calton Hill (which I saw before on the nighttime walking tour) but I sat on the hill and watched the sunset. The weather was so beautiful and the sunset was equally as wonderful. After a quick dinner, my tiredness after walking 14 miles quickly came over me and I decided to take a nice hot shower and get to bed early for my flight in the morning.
Overall, I absolutely loved Edinburgh. The people are so friendly but also very blunt, the food reminded me of home, and the sites were beautiful. I definitely lucked out AGAIN with the weather being so great and having clear skies during my whole trip. If I did it again, I would definitely go back and see more of the outskirts of the city as well as a tour to go try and find Nessie and see the Lochs. Traveling solo wasn’t actually scary at all, but I still do believe that travels are experienced by the people you are there with. So, it looks like I’ll be making some new friends on my solo travels!
Next trip is to a country that is near and dear to my heart and is a part of my heritage. I can’t wait to explore more and more. Until next time!
-Stephanie in Spain