** Quick Note: This trip was taken in 2007, photographed with an 8 megapixel point and shoot camera, and written from the perspective of a 22 year old who had never blogged before. Enjoy :) **
We left our hostel in Dublin at 3:15 am trying to catch a 6 am flight to Edinburgh. The weather outside was frightful, but the sunrise was so delightful! Looking back in my journal it says “It was absolutely frigid- 7 degrees! And we had to stand outside for 45 minutes waiting for the bus to take us to the airport. Luckily for me, I had coffee and lots of energy. Matt, on the other hand, had none.” Just reading that I feel sorry for the poor guy! It was terribly cold and early and here I am- with lots of energy. Oh geez. Sorry, Matt.
Quick side note: For those of you who don’t know, Matt and I were travel partners. We never dated. In fact, before our trip we didn’t know each other that well. I had been planning for this trip and had invited everyone I know, hoping someone might be able to accompany me. Matt had been looking into traveling while he was in between jobs. All we really knew was that we both shared a love of Beatles music- and we figured you can’t love the Beatles and be no fun- so off we went. We saw each other for the first time in five or six years the day before our trip. As we traveled we realized that we are a little bit different :) He nicknamed me Chipper because I spent a great deal of time overly-excited about everything and I never really shut up. I called him Popsicle, because he often seemed cold. Looking back it couldn’t have been a more perfect balance though. Anyone who is about to go on a trip like this should know that your travel partner WILL drive you crazy. And… as much as you hate to believe it- you are going to drive them crazy too. Expect it. Deal with it. Move on.
Okay back to Edinburgh. One of my favorite memories from the trip is this plane ride. It was crazy early and the sun started breaking through the clouds right before we landed. To this day it was the best sunrise I have ever seen. It was too early for talking, so we had hardly said a word to each other all morning, but suddenly Matt hands me one of his iPod ear buds. We both sat there silently gaping out the window listening to “Here Comes the Sun.” I have filed that in memory in my perfect moments file forever.
We landed around 7:30 am and made our way to the Waverly Bridge. I had my map out, looking for Victoria Street and Candlestick Row where our hostel was located. We stayed at Budget Backpackers– which is a great, but very busy hostel. We dropped off our stuff and had scones and coffee at Deacon Brodie’s Cafe. Then we set off to explore the Royal Mile. The Edinburgh Castle lies at one end and the Palace of Holyroodhouse (or Holyrood Palace) is located on the opposite side. There is about a mile in between the two. Some find it quite royal. The castle was home to the royal family back until about the fifteenth century but was converted to a military fortress around the year 1600. Holyrood Palace is now home to the royal family when in Scotland.
We also went to St. Giles Cathedral- a beautiful little church full of stained glass and hand crafted wood. If you visit St. Giles, make sure you check out the Thistle Chapel– this link will give you a 360 tour of the room. We toured the National Gallery while an Andy Warhol exhibit was being featured which was very… interesting.
One of the coolest experiences was one that I almost skipped. Generally, when I think of Parliament, I immediately picture the houses of parliament in London right around Big Ben. I would never picture the Scottish Parliament building. It is modern, friendly and shockingly- open. They offer guided tours and you can even buy tickets to watch live debates (which we didn’t do because they weren’t in session at the time of our visit).
We were taking a night train from Edinburgh to London, so we had one final and very full day to explore. Luckily the hostel let us leave our bags after check out so we could maximize our time in the area. Having enjoyed the hike in Dublin, we decided to hike the Devil’s Staircase. It’s was a great way to spend an afternoon outside and we got the best views of the city. We ended our day at the Elephant House a coffee shop made famous by J.K.Rowling, who worked on the first volume of Harry Potter there. They say that she was so poor back then that she had to write on napkins. I am not sure that I believe this, but if it is true, I am very happy that she can afford paper now.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.