My last day in the happiest place on Earth

Scotland has now replaced Disneyland as the happiest place on Earth.  The people were so freaking nice and I really had a hard time forcing myself to get on the plane headed back to France on Saturday morning.  Don’t get me wrong, I do like France.  But it pales in comparison to how wonderful Edinburgh was.  Also, the fact that (have I mentioned this?) they speak English was really a point in their favor.  Not having to think so much about how I would ask a question and being able to have a full conversation with the waiters was wonderful.  Absolutely wonderful.

I definitely overdid it with the walking on my first day in Scotland, so what did I do on the second day?  Rest?  Nah.  That would have been too easy.  Instead, I decided to do ten times as much walking as I had done the previous day and even attempt to go on a hike.  I’m a smart one.  Really I am.

I woke up and headed downstairs to try the breakfast offered by my bed and breakfast.  The dining room was adorable.

My solo dining experience.

There were a number of options on the menu, but I decided to go with the traditional Scottish breakfast.  When in Rome…

The "house" breakfast.

All I can say is that I tried everything.  The black thing was an oat cake, which, sadly, was possibly the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted.  I did eat the egg, the tomato and the bacon (fried ham, they call it bacon in Europe).  The rest was pretty much inedible to me.  The owner of the bed and breakfast laughed at me as she took my plate, saying, “Well, at least you tried!”

My first goal of the day was to make it to the Edinburgh Castle.  My mom strongly advocated hailing a cab so that I could reserve my limited walking strength for wandering the castle, as opposed to using it up just to get t the castle. Shockingly, I didn’t listen.  Instead, I walked from my room about a mile to get to the Royal Mile, then walked the Royal Mile to get to the Castle.  It was a lot of walking from the get-go, but I saw some wonderful sights along the way.

First, I took a picture of the exterior of the super cute Bed and Breakfast.

Cute streets - the Royal Mile.

Looking through the Advocate's Close.

More street shots, with a hackney (cab) in the front.

Finally, I reached the base of the Castle.

First full shot of the castle.

I paid my 14 £ (plus 5 £ for my guidebook) and began wandering around, snapping way too many photos (I realize that there are going to be a ton of photos in this post, but just be glad I’ve limited it this much – I took over 600 pictures in my 2 days in Scotland).

The castle.

The castle was absolutely beautiful and I lucked out getting such a beautiful day in Edinburgh.

Statue on the castle grounds.

I probably spent a good 2 or 3 hours wandering around, checking out as much of the castle as I could handle.  After Isaac and I spent an hour wandering around the armory museum in Switzerland just a few weeks ago, I wasn’t too keen on checking out the same type of museum here.  So, I skipped that part.  Maybe next time.

Views from the Castle grounds.

The castle is on a hill, so it has amazing views of the city.  If nothing else, the trek to the castle was worth it just to see out over Edinburgh.

More of the view.

Traveling by myself, I, of course, had no one to take pictures of me.  So, instead of talking to strangers (we all know how I feel about that), I opted for the super awkward self-photography shots.

At the Castle.

As at every castle I’ve visited, there were lots of cannons.

Lots of cannons.

View of the city from the cannon.

The 1 o'clock gun, which is supposed to be fired every day at 1 o'clock. I was at the castle at 1pm and did not hear anything, but I must have missed it.

I saw the crown jewels, which were beautiful, but I couldn’t take pictures of those.  They are clearly a popular attraction because in the small room that held the jewels I saw more people than I saw during my entire visit to the Castle grounds.

Then I check out the place where prisoners of war were kept during the 17th and 18th centuries (where Americans were treated the worst because they were considered pirates – Arrrr).  Also, I saw the cells where Scottish prisoners were kept – one guys was kept for two months in solitary confinement and then sentenced to two months hard labor for desertion of military service.  Then, he went on to win tons of medals for service to the country.

Prison cell.

Then I resumed taking excessive photos of the Castle grounds.  What can I saw?  It was beautiful!

Shot of the Castle grounds.

Castle and cannon.

Shot of the city from the Castle.

I’m sure Edinburgh is a wonderful city even when it rains, but, in the sun, I couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place to spend a couple of days.

Pretty...

After admiring the view for hours and causing myself a great deal of pain in my foot (have I mentioned that I not only broke the toe but also sprained the ankle and twisted the knee?), I decided to leave the Castle and head to Arthur’s Seat – which is a dormant volcano in Edinburgh where you can hike to the top.  I mean, what better thing to do than go for a hike with a broken toe?

To get to Arthur’s Seat, I had to walk down the Royal Mile.  Along the way, I decided to stop at The Witchery, which is a famous restaurant in Edinburgh.  It’s macabre, but the name stems for the killing of hundreds of witches, which occurred near where the restaurant is located, at the base of the Castle.

The Witchery

It was a beautiful restaurant, with a ton of atmosphere.

The interior of the Witchery.

I ordered a two-course “light lunch” meal for just 15 £.  It was great.  And the waiters were super friendly, discussing ebooks with me and making sure I was well taken care of.

Charcuterie appetizer.

I’d love to go back and stay at the attached hotel, which is supposed to be amazing.  (And expensive.)

After resting there for a bit, I headed down the Royal Mile to go toward Arthur’s Seat.

St. Giles Cathedral.

Along the way, I stopped at the St. Giles Cathedral and paid my 2£ so that I could take pictures inside.  They are doing some construction inside of the cathedral, so it wasn’t as beautiful as it could have been, but I could tell that it would be a breathtaking cathedral without all of the scaffolding.

Stained glass windows.

The largest organ I have ever seen.

After getting my fill of the cathedral, I continued my wanderings.

In case you haven't had enough street shots...

Right before reaching Arthur’s Seat, I came across the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Palace of Holyroodhouse (photo taken through the gates, obviously).

Unfortunately, it was already closed for the day.  So, I’ll have to check it out next time I get to Edinburgh.  It’s the home of the Queen whenever she visits Scotland.

Next to the Palace.

Finally, I made it to the park to begin my hike up to Arthur’s Seat.

Holyrood Park.

I know that going on a hike with a broken toe may seem a bit weird, but this was one of the things I was most looking forward to about my trip.  So, I wasn’t going to let a measly broken bone stop me!  Or, I was going to try not to let it stop me, at least…

It really is a beautiful area.

So, I began my hike.

A little ways into the hike - by this time, I was already stumbling around.

As I’m sure you are all aware, I’m not the steadiest person on two good feet (see stair incident).  So, wandering along rough paths and rocky terrain on only one good foot was less than easy.

Scenery almost pretty enough to make me forget the pain.

I wandered around (very slowly) for a couple of hours, just enjoying the scenery.  It was absolutely beautiful and I could not have asked for better weather.

Arthur's Seat.

Had I been in possession of two fully functioning feet, I would have hiked to the top of this peak.  Unfortunately, I quickly realized I’d have to stick to the lower levels.

More scenery. Don't you now feel like you were there?

Rough but beautiful terrain.

After hiking a bit, I decided to take a break, pull out the Nook and soak up some sun.  It was so peaceful.

Reading break!

 

When my foot stopped throbbing, I continued on with the hike.

Don't you want to go to Edinburgh now?

Also would have loved to have hiked up these peaks...

Fun with photos. It's amazing how different the photos look from the two cameras. I'm still so pleased with the expensive camera purchase.

The view of the city from the hill.

View of the Palace at Holyroodhouse from the hike.

As the sun started setting, I decided I should head down the hill and walk back into the city.

Parting shots of the hills.

Last shot of the view from my hike.

I could have (and probably should have) hailed a cab there, but I decided to walk back along the Royal Mile one last time.  [If you’re still reading at this point, I’m impressed!  I realize this is the longest post ever.  It’s almost over, I promise!]

The shop made me think of Isaac's basketball team, which is called "The Former Has Beens." While I think this is a ridiculous name, his team was a finalist for the best name award at one of the basketball tournaments last year, so I can't really make too much fun of him for it now.

Gratuitous Edinburgh shot.

St. Giles at night.

Cool Scottish bar.

Finally, after having wandered around for hours, I decided it was time to grab some dinner and then head back to the bed and breakfast.  I decided to get something I hadn’t had in months – Japanese food!

Cute little Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant.

The food was great – and listening to American pop music while eating Japanese food in Scotland was highly amusing to me.

I finally decided I had had enough walking for the day, hailed a cab and relaxed in the room for the rest of the evening.  The following morning (Saturday), I woke up, ate breakfast (this time, I opted for French toast), packed, checked out and took a cab to the airport.  I had an uneventful flight back to France.

I spent the rest of the weekend recovering from my whirlwind trip and completing my 7th final of the quarter.  I now have just three days left before I head back to the States!

Lucky Number 13

Today, I boarded a plane and visited my thirteenth country, Scotland!  (I have also been to the US (duh), Canada (also duh), England, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, the Bahamas, Poland, the Czech Republic, Panama, France, and Switzerland – yes, I realize a couple of those are administrative regions of China, but I’m all for them being independent states, so I count them separately.  🙂 )

A couple of weeks ago, I decided I needed to get out and take one last trip before I headed back to Seattle.  I chose this week to do this because I only had class on Tuesday, which left me Wednesday through Sunday to go on a trip.  Of course, I couldn’t take up the whole time because I also have a final to complete, but, currently, I’m pretending that doesn’t exist.  Anyway, I chose Scotland for a few reasons: 1. They speak English. 2. The airfare was cheap. 3. They speak English. 4. It was only a 2 hour flight. And 5. They speak English.

So, I arrived in Edinburgh a little after 3pm, and took a taxi (snapping a few pictures along the way)

One of the many beautiful churches in Edinburgh.

Random houses in Edinburgh.

The Meadows - a huge park in the middle of Edinburgh.

to the bed and breakfast where I am staying.  And it’s adorable!

My room! I didn't get a picture of the outside today - I'll try to remember to get one tomorrow.

After resting for a minute (and trying to forget about the pain in my toe (a tip: if you’re walking in the airport behind someone with a roller bag, you should pay attention to where you are going rather than have your face buried in your book.  Otherwise, you run the risk of running into the person’s roller bag when he stops suddenly, and might kick said roller bag with your broken toe.  And that would hurt.  A lot.)), I headed out to check out the town.  The wonderfully nice woman that runs the bed and breakfast (the Lauderville Guest House) pointed me in the right direction and I headed toward the city centre.

Another beautiful church.

The streets are absolutely gorgeous.

Ruins on a hill... clearly I'm not too clear on what exactly many of these photos depict, but the sights were so pretty I couldn't stop taking pictures!

Another cool structure.

Shots of Edinburgh.

Another church?

After wandering around and doing a little shopping, I stumbled upon the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh (apparently there is one!).  Since Nancy has requested that I pick up pins from each Hard Rock Cafe I see, I went in and went shopping.

Hard Rock Cafe Edinburgh.

After completing my HRC mission, I wandered around a little bit more.

George Square.

Gratuitous Edinburgh shot.

By this time, I was getting pretty desperate to find a good restaurant.  I really wanted to find a good pub to eat at, but was having trouble finding such a thing (shockingly).  I even almost gave in and ate at a TGIFridays.  Luckily, I found the perfect street just in time!

Rose Street.

I decided to eat at a Scottish pub called Dirty Dick’s.  It looked popular and like what I would expect a Scottish pub to look like.

The menu! In a comic book!

I loved the decor.

I ordered their specialty, which was a steak & ale pie.  Yum!

Yum!

I was totally full after dinner, but I didn’t want to leave yet (nursing the wounded toe, afterall – plus was really enjoying my nook book and a diet coke), so I decided to go for dessert!

Toffee bread pudding!

It was so darn good.  I am going to have to go on a major diet/workout spree as soon as I get home (and as soon as the foot heals).

And a parting shot of the restaurant, since I forgot to get one prior to dinner.

The pub!

Since I did not have the energy to walk the 30 minutes or so back to the bed and breakfast, I hailed a cab and got the nicest cab driver ever.  He told me all about the city, assured me that I could call the cab company any time because they are all vetted by the government, so my safety was guaranteed, and refused to take a tip!  He was so sweet.

Everyone I encountered today was super friendly.  I’m really glad I chose to come and I can’t wait to see more of the city tomorrow.  I am definitely not going to be able to see everything because I’m only here for a short time and so much requires too much walking for me in my lame situation, but I’m going to see as much as I can.  I’m already compiling a list of things to do when I eventually come back, though!