While studying in Ireland, I couldn't resist the quick trip over to the Scottish Isle with a group of my new girlfriends. I can't remember how we got there, but I assume that we flew Ryanair (this airline was my saving grace--tickets to surrounding countries could be purchased for $15!) to Glasgow, even though we exited onto the Glasgow street via this beautiful train station (above). Please forgive me, my life was a whirlwind back then. I guess we probably just took a subway from the airport to our final destination. ANYWAY. Immediately after arrival, we dumped our luggage at the hostel where we had secured a private room (and where one of my friends suffered a serious attack of bed bugs... they're real) and went exploring:
The coolest thing about Glasgow was this graveyard (above), sprawled out over an enormous hill behind the Glasgow Cathedral. We spent hours wandering the Cathedral grounds, soaking up the warm Scottish sun and pondering the gorgeous gravestones. That evening, we went out for a nice dinner before descending into a dive-y wine bar for the night.
The next morning, feeling (and looking) a little worse for wear after a long night (and bed bug attack), we ventured out to the Willow Tea Rooms for scones with clotted cream and cup after cup of rejuvenating hot tea, before hopping a train to Edinburgh! We spent the first day wandering the streets of the lovely old city...
...enjoying the quaintness of classic European novelties...
...and climbing the 287 curving, claustrophobic steps of the Walter Scott monument...
...(which rewarded us with a magnificent panoramic view of the city proper).
After a brief siesta at the hostel, we headed out to the "hip" part of town and wiled away the remainder of the evening at a lively biergaarten.
The next morning we rose relatively bright and early to hit a few of the hotspots. First, a tour of Edinburgh Castle:
(please excuse my confused sense of style)
Then, an adventure! From the Walter Scott tower the day before, we had glimpsed what looked like some ancient ruins on the outskirts of the city. After touring the castle, we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked until we reached our destination:
And then, we walked some more--823 ft. up the side of a mountain, all the way to the very top:
If you ever go to Edinburgh, definitely take the time to hike the hills to the top of King Arthur's Seat. It's an easy, slowly sloping climb and the view is definitely worth the time and energy. Even though we saw a multitude of other climbers on the way up, the mood at the peak is quiet and contemplative--we just sat silently at the top for a nice long time before we finally began our descent. On the walk back, we stopped for simple, but surprisingly delicious, sandwiches--cucumber and brie on a baguette.
Late that night we departed for Newcastle, which must not have been very impressive (or maybe my camera battery died) because the only photo I have is of the train station on the way out to the airport when the day was done:
Don't get me wrong, Newcastle was nice enough. We just didn't do very much (and it's not in Scotland anyway, if you want to get technical). If I recall, my roommate and I aimlessly wandered the streets for hours looking for Newcastle on tap and they didn't have it anywhere! We couldn't find a single bar where we could get a pint of the hearty brown ale. Foiled, we ended up buying a bunch of books and reading the day away at the base of a monument in the center of town before meeting up with the rest of our group for an incredible Indian meal and rendez-vous at the train station (above).
People always seem puzzled by my enchantment with Edinburgh. I don't know why I developed such an immediate fondness for it, but if I had to guess I would say that it's probably because all of my aesthetic environmental needs were met. It's a charming, historic (and clean) city, surrounded by grassy hills and castles! What's not to love? For a girl who often feels the contradictory tug of her equal love for urban and rural living, Edinburgh struck the perfect balance. I guess that's the reason. Perhaps I'll never know :)
Next week: Italia!