Hello from Scotland! I've now been in Edinburgh for almost two weeks and the city is finally starting to feel like home. I'm starting to figure out how to get from place to place, which coins mean how many pence, and where to buy the cheapest groceries. I've packed so much into the past week and a half, but I still feel like there's so much for me to do! Here are a few of the highlights from my first days in Scotland.
Everyone that I've spoken to about Scotland said that hiking Arthur's Seat is a must, so we decided to make the climb during our first week here. Somehow we ended up avoiding the main path and making a rockier climb. By the time we got to the top, we were tired and hot, but it was immediately worth it when we saw the view. You can see the whole city from the castle to the water. Edinburgh looks so magical from above, and I felt totally in awe of this beautiful place that I was lucky enough to be living in. Even though the hike was long and tiring, I ended up going back and doing it again a few days later because the view was so breathtaking. I have a feeling that I'll end up doing the hike a bunch more during my time in Edinburgh.
My favorite place that I've discovered in the city so far is Victoria Street. We stumbled upon it one of our first days in Edinburgh and found it so beautiful. All the brightly colored shops are so fun and definitely bring me a little happiness when I walk past them. I found out after I had first visited Victoria Street that this street was JK Rowling's inspiration for Diagon Alley. Being a huge Harry Potter fan, of course this made me love the street even more. There's a little Harry Potter shop on the street called Diagon House which is full of Harry Potter trinkets and is so much fun. I also love the juice cafe Hula and the bakery La Barantine where I tried my first mille feuille (it was delicious).
This past Saturday, some friends and I started to feel a little overwhelmed by the city, so we decided to take a little day trip. We picked a little sea town called North Berwick, which was only a half hour away by train. It was such an easy trip and such a cute town! We started by heading to a little cafe called the Cake Cafe. It was so cozy, filled with adorable children, and had delicious food. After lunch, we went down to the sea. It felt so good to be near an ocean again, and the beach was so beautiful. We walked out on some rocks and looked out on the water and it was so beautiful and peaceful. It was a perfect break from the city.
The best part of the trip, however, was visiting Tantallon Castle. We found out about the castle online, and didn't really know what it would be like or what to expect. When we walked up to the castle, we were totally blown away. The castle is in ruins but much of it is still intact. It sits on the edge of a cliff above the sea, so the view is absolutely breathtaking. It was so incredible walking through the ruins and seeing where kitchens or bedrooms would have been, and the view from the top was stunning. We kept saying that we had never experienced anything like Tantallon Castle before. I would absolutely love to go back and explore it again, and would highly recommend a visit to anyone visiting Scotland.
Currently, I'm sitting in a coffee shop after my first class! I'm working on getting settled in and adjusting to the way that classes are run here. Hopefully I'll be back in the swing of things in no time. Classes will be a whole adventure in themselves (particularly my bagpiping class...stay tuned), but I can't wait to find free time to continue exploring the city.
Edinburgh is finally starting to feel like home!