We begin our journey on Saturday at 4am. Yes, FOUR am. I got up (miraculously) and took a shower, packed, and managed to make myself look socially acceptable by the time Jenna appeared at my door at 5:15. We walked to Angel tube station…which wasn’t even open yet. Luckily it’s only a mile walk to King’s Cross, which is where our train was going to leaving. London at 5am (at least our area) is quite interesting – lots of people leftover from the night before…and a few more crazies than normal, I think. But we made it to King’s Cross, bought some coffee and breakfast, and got on a train that would last 20 minutes and take us to Stevenage. Then we got on a coach for an hour which took us to Peterborough. THEN we got back on a train for 4 hours which would take us to Edinburgh! All in all it was about a 6 hour journey, but the scenery was beautiful so it wasn’t painful. Also, we got to see snapshots of other cities in England as well, as we had to make stops in other stations along the way. I particularly liked the way Durham and Newcastle looked.
Once we arrived in Edinburgh we met up with Ellen and Laura (who had left Friday morning), dropped off our stuff in our hotel, then hopped on a bus tour that took us around the city. Yay tourism! Ellen and Laura ended up doing their own thing, so Jenna and I stayed on the bus for a while then went and toured the Edinburgh Castle. It was pretty cool, and worth going in for the views alone. SO beautiful. And windy. But still beautiful.
After the castle we met up again with Laura and Ellen for some dinner. Had some food and some drinks, told creepy/scary stories (some real, some fake) then walked to Ellen and Laura’s hotel for a minute of downtime. After about 45 minutes or so we went back out to a tapas/wine bar around the corner (I know, not exactly a native Scottish place) for some drinks and shared a piece of cake. The cake was butterscotch, it was amazing. It put Chockywockydoodah (from our trip to Brighton, for those just tuning in) to shame. After a couple hours we called it quits and made plans to meet up again in the morning. Considering I had gotten up at 4am, I was pretty impressed with myself that it was 11:30 at night and I was still functioning.
Sunday morning Jenna and I had breakfast then went and met up with Ellen and Laura at a Starbucks down the street from us. Before you go all anti-globalization on me, you will have to look at the pictures (once I post them!) of the view from this particular coffee shop. It was on the second level looking straight out at Edinburgh Castle. It was so beautiful. Definitely a place to spend a morning, even if it is Starbucks.
After breakfast we walked down to the Queen’s residence to take some pictures. Scotland’s Parliament is right next door. It’s the weirdest architecture I have EVER seen. Seriously weird. We got back on our touristy bus and took it up the hill to this Whisky Experience thing. You pay for the tour and get some Scotch whisky (and you get to keep the glass, so, bonus) and then they teach you about Scottish whisky, etc, and you go on this super cheesy Disneyland-esque ride that apparently tells you about the history of Scottish whisky. I say apparently because we weren’t listening; instead, taking goofy pictures of each other with the creepy wax figures. I don’t know if the whole Whisky Experience was worth it, but I got a little liquid warmth in the afternoon, hilarious pictures, and a cool glass out of it….so I’d consider it a success.
After our boozetastic tour we got some lunch in the grassmarket area then walked through the park along Princes Street. We got some ice cream and sat in the park for a while until it was time for Jenna and I to get back on the train!
The train ride home was the same, filled with gorgeous scenery (I saw bunnies!) and a relaxing, comfortable seat by the window. We got home at midnight. I’m a little bit tired today, but that was to be expected. Besides, Ellen and Laura took the sleeper train and got in at 6am this morning, so I am definitely not complaining about my lack of sleep!
So we packed in as much as we could for the 28 hours we were in Scotland. I’m happy with the amount of touristy things we did, but for me, just walking around and exploring is a fun part of visiting a new place. We did as much of that as we could given our time constraints, but I do want to go back to see more of the city, and surrounding areas. I definitely want a second visit!
In other news, I forgot my water bottle at home today. I feel so alone.
In other other, happier news, I am going to dinner tonight with Mr. Thomas! Reston goes international...stay tuned to see if the world can handle it.