Kenyon College

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Four Days in Edinburgh

We stayed at a lovely, small bed & breakfast called Highfield House, which was an old Scottish manse dating from 1730. Every morning the owners of the house would cook breakfast for Karl and me (as we were the only guests there at the time), along with delicious coffee that I greatly enjoyed. From the house every morning we would walk a few minutes down to the train stop to catch the train into Edinburgh.

Coming out from the station by way of the Princes Mall puts you out on to Princes Street, where all the new shops are. (Within five minutes of exiting the station, we heard bagpipers playing. The street leading away from the Castle is also monopolized by "tartan" shops.) This area of town is part of what is called the New Town, part of the city that was added on way back when the town was overcrowded and cramped due to its being confined within its walls. They drained the Nor'Loch which was to the north of the Edinburgh Castle, and built the New Town. There is a monument to Sir Walter Scott in the gardens where the Nor'Loch used to be. (We learned all of this at the tiny Museum of Edinburgh, on the Royal Mile in the Old Town. I guess you could also learn it on Wikipedia.) There is a very distinct difference in feel between the Old Town and the New Town, but the whole city is beautiful and grand and has its own peculiar character, due to the way it did not expand beyond its walls for a very long time, and grew upwards rather than outwards.

Basically, Karl and I fell in love with Edinburgh, and walked all over, from one end to the other. Everything is in close proximity to everything else, and walking was consistently rewarding. We traipsed from the Castle to the Palace, where we climbed Arthur's Seat and looked out over the entire city.

We also circumnavigated the New Town, and found that only "keyholders" could enter the gardens that dominate a large portion of the New Town's blocks. Nevertheless, there were loads of alleyways with pubs and cute restaurants (we found a Mexican restaurant and were pleasantly surprised by the deliciousness of the food.) We spent a couple nights of pints and dinner in a pub called The Tron (a few blocks away from the Castle), which was run by a chain called Scream (I think?) that was very hip and quirky and served cheap, edible food. What we liked were the couches, and remarking on the eclectic music chosen for the speakers.

All in all, it was a brilliant time and Edinburgh is my new favorite place. (I feel like every place has been my new favorite place... this is a good thing, though!) I loved it so much I even had to get a little Edinburgh keychain.

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