This past week I played jetsetter once again and headed to Scotland with the Galway Girls (Fiona, Julie, Molly, and Molly). We booked this mostly because the RyanAir tickets were so cheap–we payed 15 euro each way for plane tickets. Crazy!! We also wanted a last hoorah before some of us headed home or on trips with our families prior to Christmas. Further, we had a week off because our classes ended and this week was a ‘study week’…. Though we didn’t actually use this week for its purpose, we certainly made plenty of memories and wouldn’t have done it any other way.
Monday night we hopped on a bus to Dublin Airport (2.5 hours) and posted up in the airport until our flight. It took us about 50 minutes gate to gate. It was incredibly quick and smooth so we were excited to start our trip! We caught a bus to the center of Edinburgh and walked to our hostel. We payed exactly 16 euro TOTAL for three nights in this hostel so we were a bit nervous as to the condition the place would be in. IT WAS BEAUTIFUL. The bottom floor had all original woodwork, a beautiful eatery, and Christmas decorations. We were all the way on the top floor (a horrid walk after a long day of tourist activities everyday) but the bathroom was clean and the bunk beds were comfy enough (I have a deep issue with not knowing where or how my sheets were washed, but I brought my own pillowcase so I could semi push aside my OCD qualities and survive). Our budget risks proved to be working out. We were a group of 5 and the room was for 8….. so we had two sets of three random people throughout our stay. That part was not as fun as we couldn’t really use our room to chat and giggle–we had to be respectful of the ladies who went to sleep at literally 8PM (annoying). For 16 eruo, I’ll take it.
Edinburgh was one of my favorite cities I have ever been to. It was packed with charm and history, yet it was lively and youthful. Every building was unreal—it was original woodwork and detailed beauty. The views from anywhere in the city included the castles, parliament buildings, and sweeping sky views. I felt like I was on a prep school campus with its uniformity, yet individualistic style. My favorite part was the fact that it wasn’t packed crowded, like London was. I feel like Scotland is the hidden gem that people often don’t put on the top of their list to visit. Mistake. It should be. Words cannot describe how cool this city is. You’ll just have to experience it for yourself.
We awoke extremely early on Tuesday morning to find the mountain and hike up Arthur’s Seat– a trail recommended to us by a friend of mine I met in yoga class. I kid you not after a night of no sleep (thanks to snoring and sleep talking by the random roommates) we awoke at 6 AM and were out the door by 615AM to make sure we made it to the mountain and hiked to the top in time to see sunset at 808 AM. I have not gotten up that early in lord knows how long, but I was so pumped to be doing something so cool that I didn’t even feel tired. The girls and I hit the streets in the PITCH BLACK. It was seriously eerie as nothing was open and no one was awake. I must say we got to the mountain pretty easy thanks to the map and we began to hike the trail.
We dressed warm and thank goodness. Though sweaty during the hike, the top was freezing! The wind was really strong, but I was so happy to reach the top by the end. The trails were caked with mud and we were slipping and sliding all over the place. The rocks were kind of dangerous and I got nervous at some points. We literally scaled a mountain. I hate hiking (fun fact). Like — in no way do I find it fun. Never have. The view and the sunrise were the only thing motivating me to get up there. There were some girls who loved the experience and others who didn’t, but in the end it was totally worth it.
The most ironic part is that it was too cloudy to see the sunrise. I giggle at that every time. However, seeing the trials in the pitch black and then seeing the city all lit up was such a cool comparison.
We scaled back down the mountain (many of us slipped and fell) and hit up a great breakfast place. We then headed back to the hostel to shower and hit the stores along the main street. I picked up an awesome hat (I have totally been into the earwarmer/hat trend this winter) and then we headed to the meeting spot for our Harry Potter tour!
Our tour guide was excellent–animated, fun, witty. It was pouring rain and I am pretty sure my toes had frostbite, yet I so thoroughly enjoyed the tour. We visited every spot JK Rowling wrote each book in, Tom Riddle’s grave, the school that inspired Hogwarts, and the street that inspired Diagon Alley. If you haven’t read Harry Potter do yourself a favor and do so… especially to your children. It is unreal how amazing the world she created is.
The inspiration for Professor McGonagall.
Home to book 1 and 2.
The inspiration for Diagon Alley.
We also had coffee and sweet treats at The Elephant Cafe–home to book 3, 4, and 5. It was unreal how cool it was to look out the same window that inspired her to write. Her influence in Scotland is huge and seeing all the places that she used as inspiration was not only a great tour of the city, but a cool connection to the books that defined my generations childhood.
The girls and I hit up a great little pub for dinner which had the best food and warmth. We ended our day meeting back up with the boys and heading into a pub for a drink. Since the boys were leaving the next morning we watched a soccer (futbol) match and headed back to go asleep—after all we had been up since 6AM.
^^delusion sets in when you are tired.
Edinburgh made a great first impression and Scotland only continued to impress in the days to come.