I’ve wanted to visit Scotland since my early teenage years (spot a pattern?). Since we have another house sit in the UK this month, I decided it was time to go ahead and fulfill that dream. We started with Edinburgh simply because this city had the best airfare.
Edinburgh was a city I didn’t expect to surprise me. I never really see that much written about it, and it seems that people typically use it just as a place to transition to the famed Scottish Highlands. I didn’t expect much other than seeing lots of green and hearing one of my favorite accents.
I’m sure I’m not alone in finding the Scottish brogue to be one of the most sexy accents around.
I’ve heard so many stories from foreigners having a rough time at the UK border control that I get a little nervous when it’s time to present my passport here. However, just like last time, it was super smooth. It was also one of the few times that being a foreigner paid off in terms of the queue. The immigration line for UK/EU passport holders was quite long. There were only 3 people in the non-EU line, and we were 2 of them.
Our first introduction to the city was via the bus system, and that began with a hiccup. It turns out our driver didn’t know where our stop was. When I finally figured we were in the right area, he couldn’t confirm that for me. This wouldn’t be our only bus adventure in the city.
After we checked into our Wimdu place, we headed out to explore. Just walking around the city center was incredible. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but it charmed me even though it really didn’t look much different than any other European downtown.
We decided to climb the nearby hill to check out the monuments and get a better view of the city. You never really realize just how out of shape you are until you’re climbing a steep hill, especially after a large meal, but my love affair with Edinburgh began at the top of Calton Hill.
Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the hill is included in that. There are some beautiful monuments at the top as well as an old observatory and an art gallery. The views are absolutely stunning. You can see the city below you as well as a jaw-dropping sight of Arthur’s Seat. The whole area is so gorgeous, you just want to sit down and soak it in for as long as possible.
I was energized and even more eager to explore after this.
We went down the hill and ended up on Princes Street. Walking along here was like being immersed in two worlds. On one side of the street were old buildings with gorgeous architecture, including the “gothic rocket ship” monument to Sir Walter Scott, which happens to be the largest monument to a writer in the world. On the other was a mix of old and new buildings filled with all manner of opportunities for shopping and dining.
The streets were bustling with people, buses, and trams. The transportation system is excellent and quite affordable, and the drivers can be quite entertaining. Bus adventure #2 happened when we were headed back to her home. We were heading to cross the street to catch the bus when one pulled up right where we were standing with a sign indicating it was heading in our direction. It seemed wrong, but the sign was clear. We hopped on it.
After 20 minutes, I was pretty sure we were going in the opposite direction. When I queried the driver, he confirmed we were on the wrong bus. I asked about the sign being in disagreement. He double checked it and replied: “F**k me, you’re right!”
Gotta love the Scots.
Our day of being wowed by Edinburgh only fueled my desire to experience more of this city, and the more time I’ve spent here the more time I want. It has firmly landed a spot on my favorite cities list. The city has a charm and a vibe that is just phenomenal. Just when you think you’ve found the coolest or most beautiful spot, you find something else that knocks your socks off.
If you come to Scotland, you can’t skip Edinburgh.
Have you been to Edinburgh? What are your thoughts?