Next stop, and unfortunately final stop on the agenda before heading back to Sevilla, and it’s Edinburgh! While I was sitting at Manchester airport, I was jokingly saying to my family that I hope my flight wasn’t on a tiny propeller plane… But to my absolute horror, around the corner, waiting for me at the gate was another tiny propellor plane, that was supposed to take me and my other thirty or so passengers up north. With a slogan like “faster than train or bus” painted on the side of the plane, I wasn’t sure what I was totally in for, but it was a smooth enough ride to catch up on some z’s and enjoy the beauty of Scotland from a height as we descended upon Edinburgh, or Edimburgo I came to realise through my Spanish Google Maps.
I hadn’t seen Gill in almost 18 months, but after a quick 2x speed catch up over the lost time during a walk around the Scottish countryside (the sticks of Edinburgh- which are only 35 minutes outside of the city, so not really the sticks at all), it was like no time had passed.
Day one I had an interview for what turned out to be a SUPER intense Spanish internship with the department of education to work as an English teacher, (which I later decided to turn down). Then I was off to the city to start exploring the sites. First stop, Edinburgh Castle. The castle sits magnificently atop its hill overlooking the city in all its glory. The castle, which is a historic fortress and one of the main tourist hot spots in Edinburgh was just that, teeming with tourists. Archaeologists believe that there has been continuous human occupation on the site since the Iron Age, and they believe that it has been the site of a castle of some sort since the 12th century. Its use has changed from royal residence to military fortress, prison and garrison, to now, a museum, house of the Royal Crown Jewels of Scotland and Scottish war memorial. It was involved in many conflicts in Scotland, including the important Scottish war of independence with the rising of the Jacobites (thank you, Outlander, for bringing my awareness to such things so clearly). It is believed to be the most besieged place in Brittain, with very few buildings dating before the 16th century still standing. Essentially, it was pretty cool to see but would have been a whole lot better if everyone didn’t have the same idea…
I managed to catch up with a Physio Uni friend, Rach, who had moved to Edinburgh and gave me so many tips, tricks, insights about Edinburgh! Was so great to be able to catch up over coffee (and GOOD coffee too!) That evening I returned back to Gill’s place for a beautiful run through what felt like the Scottish countryside, only 35 minutes by bus out of central Edinburgh. It was amazing that somewhere so spacious, beautiful and tranquil was so close to the hustle and bustle of the fringe! That evening, I stayed up late to await the arrival of Jane from Australia via Spain, and it was like absolutely zero time had passed again. So easy to slip into the neverending storytelling and anxious to hear all about her travels and happenings in Sydney, we weren’t off to bed until well after 2:30am.
The next morning we were on a walking tour of Edinburgh, where we learnt all about some great Edinburgh history from a local lad. He was so great, he noticed Jane was shivering with her wet, freshly washed hair, that he offered her his coat and stayed in the freezing cold in a t-shirt, refusing to admit that he felt the frost. If this is the calibre of all Scottish people, I am in for a treat next year! We learnt the story of the Stone of Destiny; the powerful stone of Scotland, believed to bring success to the king coronated atop it, which was stolen by England in the 13th Century, only to be returned to Scotland in the twentieth century by Scottish students. We learnt about the origin of the ‘graveyard shift’, with one of the guards and his famous, ever faithful pup, Bobby, who is now a symbol of loyalty throughout the town. We learnt the origin of ‘shitfaced’, and couldn’t think of anything worse than a bucket of human excrement being chucked down on you while stumbling home drunk. We wandered through the streets, saw cafes, schools, buildings and names on gravestones that inspired the characters and backdrop of J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter series. Not long after the tour, we found a lovely little Scottish restaurant where I enjoyed my first taste of haggis.
Later that afternoon we went to a stand-up comedy bit ‘a free show’, that in reality is never free, but was a worthwhile laugh, then met up with Gill after work. We headed to dinner and then on a ‘night tour’ of Edinburgh’s spooky past as well as a tour of the vaults. The history spoke of grave robbing, of saving a girl buried alive, of the underground businesses and storage facilities of the vaults, which we then wandered through and got a little bit freaked out (well I did, and had to maintain some degree of scepticism lest I freak out totally), by the stories of the ghosts. One of the chambers in the vaults has been speculated to be the site of the most extraordinary activity in the world. How they measure this, I can’t be sure, but it gave me the shivers and I wanted to get out.
A lazy morning and a delicious home-cooked brekky and we were off to Arthur’s Seat for a little hike/climb and views over Edinburgh. It’s a beautiful sight to see, and will knock your socks off- literally, the wind almost knocked my phone out of my hand attempting to take a photo. Later we enjoyed the delights of the local specialities of Edinburgh in cafes, shops and restaurants, and then finished the evening at the fringe festival, enjoying a fab show by a Glaswegian comedian, Mark Nelson.
An early morning the following day to drive out to Ben A’an, and another hike to view some of the Scottish Highlands and the lochs. It was absolutely spectacular and so good to exercise the body at the same time. We explored a small quaint town on the way back to Edinburgh, and got ready for another night out exploring the delights of the fringe! We organised a meet up with Linsay, another Scottish OT from back in Australia, and enjoyed delicious pizza over many a story catching up. This evening, we were in for a real treat. A treat, we didn’t realise until later, that came all the way from none other than Sydney, Australia!!! BRIEFS. It was essentially a gay cabaret/strip show, that had great messages about acceptance, enjoying life in the present and speaking for those who don’t have a voice. It was a fantastic show, and I emplore all of my Aussie mates to look it up when it goes to the Sydney festival. AMAZING.
Amazingly I was able to catch up with an old school friend, Prip, who was in town, and again, so easy to make up for lost time and so good to be able to catch her before her return to London town. I also managed to catch Adrienne from Manchester again before her return to work, after a weekend in the Scottish Highlands! The rest of the remaining days, were spent watching street shows at the remaining days at the fringe festival, dining with Gill’s amazing parents, drawing in cafes and watching the fireworks marking the end of the fringe.
Edinburgh was an absolutely amazing city. I know I have said this about almost every city I have been to, but it really has been one of my favourites. It has really concreted my want to return to Edinburgh to live after my stint in Spain. It was a fabulous opportunity to catch up with friends from all over the world, experience cuture, comedy and art through the fringe, explore the history that it has on offer, and fall in love with such an amazing atmosphere and vibe. Edinburgh, haste (me) back!!!