Written Jan. 25, 2017 (Burns Night)
And just like that, my time in the Scottish Highlands ended. ? I’m gutted.
While I did make use of my half day in Edinburgh again (I’m staying here the next four nights – although the next two days will be daytrips elsewhere), I can’t help but miss the Highlands. Scotland and New Zealand are forever my favourites (and so similar in landscapes) – and England, too. I definitely just love all of the UK.
The train ride from Iverness to Edinburgh was lovely (train rides are ALWAYS lush), although I was too busy fretting over my Wales itinerary to notice us go past Cairngomes National Park. Sad.
I jam-packed my day again since I wanted to save the evening for Burns Night (which ended up being quiet). I raced off to find Twelve Triangles, an artisan donut/coffee shop only 14 min. walking distance from my hostel (again, nothing is over a 45-min. walk apart out here, which is stellar). It was recommended by a good friend, and my chocolate hazelnut custard-filled doughnut, while the size of my palm, did not disappoint. My diet consisted of 90% sugar today, and I was fine with that.
It was wonderful getting to explore different parts of the city centre that I didn’t get to last week. I managed to have some peaceful walks around the Water of Leith, The Meadows, and parts of Old Town. I ended up walking in circles after awhile since Edinburgh’s city centre is actually pretty compact – while stunning, it’s easy to get through a lot of it in a day. And yet, at the same time, there’s also so many hidden gems and new surprises around every corner – much like this amazing Museum Context store on Victoria St. that I totally passed the first time without realising its Harry Potter connection.
I just love this city so much. It literally has the best of everything, from every angle you look. Nature, amazing food, mountains, castles, ancient history, free museums, vintage bookstores galore, divine cafes, a coastline view, and two train stations right in the middle of the city. Does it get better than this?!
Arthur’s Seat is by far one of the most gorgeous viewpoints I’ve ever hiked up to – and the fact that you can see its vast beauty (all 251m of it) in plain sight, even from the ground, is just amazing. Normally viewpoints are obscured by trees or the woods from below – but this was just breathtaking. It was a much better panoramic viewpoint than the South Tudor one in Cromarty from yesterday (which was obscured by bushes and involved getting past extremely thorny plants).
Although I must admit – since the past few days have involved hikes with pretty steep inclines, my heart kinda sank when I saw how high this climb was. Anyone could probably whip through it in 20 min or less, especially with the clear pathway of stones, but it always looks daunting to watch specks of dots get higher and higher when you’re debating whether or not to trek it. The answer is always yes, though.
My God, this view.
It must look even better in the summertime. It’s an epic place to take a date, especially with the huge plateaus of grass sprawling out underneath Arthur’s Seat. There’s really about three different mountains you can climb, but Arthur’s Seat is the highest and yields the most stunning 360 views. The wind was insane, though – all of us up there (around 3:30pm, close to sunset) definitely blew to the side a few times since the gusts were so strong. It was absolutely frigid, with my hands going so numb that it was painful to even hold my camera. Every second was worth it, though. I stayed up there for a good 30 min (especially after all the work involved in the climb).
Burns Night (a night of poetry, writing, drinking whiskey and eating haggis to honour the late Robert Burns) ended up being dead quiet – everyone just goes to pubs and does their usual drinking/eating. [Later edit – I missed the MAIN event that my friend sent; it was on one street and had poets, musicians, etc. What an idiot] The only difference was Ceilidh, a Scottish dance consisting of interchanging partners, and I sadly failed at finding a venue with it. I did run into the same Swiss friends I made in the Portree hostel (didn’t I say CBD was super small?) and we went to Teviot Row House, the University of Edinburgh’s student union house open to the public, but we were only allowed to glimpse into the dancefloor as all tickets were sold out. It looked like so much fun, though – I’m gutted that I missed out. Hopefully I’ll get to partake another time.
I also treated myself to a lush meal (haggis, neeps and tatties), also at Teviot Row House (so it was super cheap compared to the pubs). Neeps and tatties are mashed potatoes and mashed turnips, usually served with a whiskey sauce. I know that haggis is sheep intestine, which sounds gross, but since it’s most likely fried and all ground up, I think it’s delicious. Scottish and British food so far – MMMMMMMM.
Exploring Stirling tomorrow for the day – and I’m super stoked about Glasgow on Friday. I kinda/really/absolutely don’t want to ever leave Scotland… xx
P.S. I can’t get over how Scotland uses the Elvish Lord of the Rings font for half its shops. It’s probably the same in Ireland, but I just loveeeeee it. Honestly, why am I even American? I should just convert…