Eurotour: Part 1- Edinburgh

The first leg of our Eurotour is complete already! I can’t believe how quickly it flew by. My parents arrived in Penarth last Saturday afternoon, after a rearranged flight out of JFK due to high speed windy conditions. They hired a van and drove to our place, and after settling in and a quick power nap, we set out for dinner with our hosts at an Italian restaurant. We surrounded ourselves with strong drinks, creamy pastas and rich meat/seafood dishes.

The next morning, we packed up the van and drove the 7 hours to Edinburgh, Scotland. The drive isn’t terribly exciting, as it’s mostly major motorways. After a fiasco with finding a place to buy a diesel additive to the car (who knew we’d need that to start the ignition?), we embarked on an accidental detour on the Scotland Historical Highway. The road winds through the rolling hills dusted with snow and scattered with roaming sheep, which were glowing in the full moon’s light. Finally, we arrived to the apartment we’d rented via Airbnb located just off Grassmarket and below Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. We were in the perfect place to walk the entirety of Old Town. That night we played games and ordered takeaway, somehow exhausted from the motionless journey.

The next day, we walked the two blocks up to the Royal Mile to take a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close, which explores an entirety of underground sections of the city which were left abandoned for the construction of new government buildings above it. You get to explore the rooms of medieval family homes and hear the stories of the people who lived and worked in the Close and were forced to leave their homes. I enjoyed the death doctors, whose creepy depictions wore body length thick waxed leather hooded cloaks with a long beaked mask. These were the doctors who were treating victims of the plague, and wore these items to protect them from the terrible effects of the disease.

Following the tour, we visited Edinburgh Castle, which sits atop one cliffside and overlooks the city. It’s walls at one point contained a small village, which now houses military and war museums. The castle itself is immensely beautiful, and was home at one point to Mary, Queen of Scots. It now possesses the Crown Jewels and tells the story of how they were buried beneath the castle for 111 years before being found. After exploring the Castle, we followed the Royal Mile and wandered into tweed shops, bookstores, and tourist stores. That evening we found this delicious Indian tapas restaurant and wandered back to the apartment under the lights of the city.

The second day, we went to see the Writer’s Museum which tracks the lives and works of Robert Lewis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Until arriving in the city, I hadn’t known that it is considered a literary capital of the world, and has inspired countless poets and authors’ works including J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series. In the afternoon, we hiked Arthur’s Seat, which overlooks the mountains in the distance and the city itself. What a gorgeous climb! That evening, we embarked on a self-created pub crawl to the bars and pubs near to our apartment. From pub to pub we wandered, with pints of cider and lager in hand, and ended at The Blue Bow, an authentic Scottish pub and my favorite spot, alongside The White Hart (the oldest pub est. in 1519) where we saw a folk band do their own renditions of mostly American pop songs. The next day we headed back towards Cardiff for the second leg of our journey, which you will read about in a few days’ time!

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