Copenhagen, Munich, Sunset Hikes and Bagpipes!

Virginia Black University of Edinburgh, Scotland


October 5, 2017

Since my last post, I’ve started learning how to play the bagpipes, tried haggis, joined the university’s recreational golf team and traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Munich, Germany! When I’m at Duke I rely on my structured routine in order to feel efficient, productive, and comfortable. Here in Edinburgh, It’s extremely difficult to actually pinpoint what a typical day looks like because it’s all so variable and every day presents new opportunity to discover, explore and tap into my adventurous side! However, there are certainly a few places and activities that find their way into my “routine” quite often. I’ve made a few Scottish friends I see every Tuesday night for golf practice at the local driving range, discovered a cozy coffee shop with great Wi-Fi and even better coconut milk lattes and I’ve hiked Arthur’s seat almost every single morning that I’ve been in Edinburgh! My friend Kitty and I like to joke that if there were ever a competition for “most climbs to the top of Arthur’s seat in a four-month period”, I’m definitely well on my way to winning first place. The steep and unforgiving trek to the top is rewarded by panoramic views of the city, the ocean on the fringe of the coastline, and the Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Elizabeth II. My favorite time of day to hike is at dusk when the setting sun illuminate’s steeples and castle towers scattered throughout the city and the rolling hills of the countryside are enveloped in a blanket of soft pink haze. I’m so fortunate to have the opportunity to explore various European cities on the weekends, but I’m also very lucky to have breathtaking views in the backyard of my dorm complex!

I hope I never take for granted the fact that many of my friends from Duke are scattered in various cities throughout Europe for 4 months. You can spend hours perusing trip advisor reviews, but nothing compares to having your friends be able to take on the role of tour guide in a city they have recently begun to call home. Two weekends ago when I traveled to Copenhagen there had to have been at least 20 of my friends from Duke there at the same time, and the friends who were there for the entire semester had already created extensive itineraries to make sure we hit all of their favorite spots in 2 days. On Saturday morning, we went to the glass market for brunch (essentially an indoor farmer’s market), the international street market on our way to Christiansborg Palace, and the Round Tower for a 360-degree view of orange and white rooftops and specks of turquoise oxidized copper domes scattered throughout the city. In the afternoon, we took a “Go Boat” tour of the canals, and I was the designated captain! After returning to the docks we went to “Paper Island”, a pop up food truck market with string lights, live bands and bonfires (it’s apparently about to be transformed into an apartment complex, so we were there for one of the last few weekends of its existence!) On Sunday, we visited the Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s Disneyland, which had beautiful gardens and lakes lined with people sipping wine and reading books in chaise lounges as they listened to live musical performances. Copenhagen is extremely modern, trendy (expensive!), and overall, I was really impressed with their innovative infrastructure that caters to a cycling culture I have never experienced in any other city before!

While I had great luck with my other weekends, my weekend in Munich, Germany was a bit more difficult. All 4 of my flights were delayed, I took a wrong train that almost resulted in a missed flight on the way home, and I couldn’t help but feeling guilty that spent most of my time in a crowded Oktoberfest tent overflowing with Americans instead of getting out and exploring Munich. However, I realized that not every trip is going to go perfectly. There were a lot of small moments that I was not expecting to come out of a weekend at one of the biggest festivals in the entire world. I was reassigned to a seat in the middle of a Belgian bachelor party and made friends with the groom on my flight from Belgium to Munich, I met a lovely woman who posed for a sunset picture in front of pastel apartment buildings with her rainbow umbrella, and was handed a bottle of free French Rosé on my connecting flight from Paris to Edinburgh by a flight attendant who could obviously tell I had experienced more than a few hiccups in my travel plans that weekend! My favorite part of the trip wasn’t the festival itself, but catching up with my friends I hadn’t seen in months in our hotel rooms. I realized that you just have to appreciate the small, unexpected moments of joy rather than letting your happiness be dependent on whether or not everything goes perfectly. I was more than relieved to be back in Edinburgh when the plane finally touched down, and after 3 weekends in a row of traveling to Dublin, Copenhagen and Munich I could not be more excited to spend this upcoming weekend driving through the Scottish Highlands on my way to Isle of Skye!


Scotland Semester Travel