Traveling: The Royal Mile and a Walk to the Firth

A view of the Royal Mile

A view of the Royal Mile

Our first full day in Edinburgh was a walk around day.  In fact, if my Fitbit was to be believed, it was over 9 miles.   The day served as a precursor to what we would do in Edinburgh.  The more we reflect on our trip the more we realized how much we missed.  This happens when you travel. If you enjoy the parts you did explore, and trust me we did, then you cannot worry about what you missed.

We walked down Pleasance Street toward the Royal Mile.  Along the way we passed the Holyrood 9A, which would be come one of our favorite restaurants, but more importantly we passed a bagpipe shop.  Once you pass a bagpipe shop, you know you are in Scotland.

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Traveling: Arriving in Edinburgh is Comedy of Errors

At the Edinburgh Airport while we still have energy

At the Edinburgh Airport while we still have energy

We arrived in Edinburgh at the wonderful hour of 6 am on a Saturday morning.  We waited in the airport for a little bit before taking the bus to the city center.  The three of us, Cristina, our classmate Cody, and myself, walked to the Royal Mile.  This was a unique site for us.  The Royal Mile is probably the most famous street in Edinburgh and is usually full of activity.  At this time, it was not.  It was pretty empty.  We knew it was too early to check into our dorm so we did some window shopping. Whisky and kilts lined the windows of most shops.

We eventually made our way to the place to find out where our dorm was in a futile attempt to store our luggage with them.  They had no lockers or anything. We asked the guy at the desk where to get a good meal.  He pointed us to the City Restaurant.  I ordered the Midi breakfast which consisted of thick bacon, a fried egg, 2 sausages, beans, toast, and haggis.  This was my first trying of haggis on the trip.  It reminded me of rice dressing without the rice.  It was not served in a stomach but just in a small patty. It was an easy introduction to haggis, and I, for one, enjoyed it.  After breakfast, we went to large book store across the street and took a nap.

Cristina's first Scottish Breakfast

Cristina’s first Scottish Breakfast

My first Scottish Breakfast. The patty is haggis.

My first Scottish Breakfast. The patty is haggis.

Queen approved Tabasco

Queen approved Tabasco

Around noon, two hours before we were supposed to be allowed to check in, wewent try the dorm place again.  Other members of our trip, who were on different flights, were there right before us.  The guy was giving them the keys so we got ours as well.

Then, he drew on a map the precise location of our dorm.  He forgot to tell us he failed geography.

The place where he marked our room as being was three blocks away from our actually dorm.  Cody and Cristina took over and eventually solved the problem after plenty of walking with all of our luggage, which for Cristina and I was a slightly overfilled backpack.  We finally figured out the building by using the key code to get into it’s courtyard.

Then we found another problem.  The numbers on the keys only corresponded to the number of keys they were and not to the building or flat. We just had to try keys  in every building.  Once we gained access to a building then we had to try for flat.  In the states that would probably get us shot.  Once in the flat, we had to try the keys for every room before finding ours.  By luck of the draw Cristina had the largest room.  Cristina and Cody had the best view with the Salisbury Crags right outside.  I got the room by the bathrooms with a view of another dorm.

The Crags outside of our dorm

The Crags outside of our dorm

Our two other flatmates arrived later in the afternoon while the three of us were to take naps. The entire group later convened in the courtyard where our professors met us and told us the basics of the trip.  I have no idea if we ate in for supper, our flat had a kitchen, or if we went out.  I just know that we took some Benedryl early and went sleep around 7 that evening.

Traveling: Scotland and Ireland 2014

The view from Cristina's room in Edinburgh

The view from Cristina’s room in Edinburgh

I thought last summer would be a peaceful summer at home. Whenever anyone asked where we were going, I would answer maybe a few weekend trips.

I should have known better.

Southeastern was offering their study abroad to Scotland and Ireland in the summer of 2014. The first time Cristina talked about it, I knew we were going even though she hadn’t said she wanted to go. We would be earning six history credits while we were there. That makes it worth it. Also, the trip would be three weeks.
I’m glad we did go. The trip wasn’t a big, scheduled tour like our Normandy trip (which Cristina will finish writing about). We would have some lectures in the morning by our professors as well as some from scholars from Scotland and Ireland. Most afternoons we were free to do what we wanted.
The trip’s home base was Edinburgh. We fell in love with that city and it’s people instantly. We took a trip to Ireland for 4 days. We stayed in Dublin and made a day trip to Belfast. The day trip to Belfast was a selling point for us. On one of our first free weekend, we went to London to take a day trip to Hampton Court Palace, the Science Museum, and the London Comic Con. We also took an overnight trip to Inverness and did a cruise on Loch Ness. We took another day trip, thankfully on a Sunday, to St. Andrews to see the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. We went to Stirling and labored up the William Wallace Monument.

I will be writing a day-to-day blog of the trip. I will with a novice and outsiders point of view discuss Scottish politics at the time since this was the summer before the failed vote for Scottish independence. I will discuss some of the record stores we visited, of course. I will try to do my best to describe some of the people that we met. Since it was a college trip, we shared our dorm and our experiences with other people, and thankfully it was a really great group.

We have travelled a lot. Edinburgh feels to us the way New Orleans does. It is that special kind of city. We know that we only experienced maybe 20% of what it has to offer. That’s what return trips are for.

Reviewing: 2014 Year in Review – May through September

Part 2 of my 2014 Year in Review.

May

The second weekend of Jazz Fest we saw Bruce Springsteen on the main stage. It was jam packed and hard to hear him and it made us realize that we should never main stage Jazz Fest again. Not worth it.

Bruce Springsteen at Jazz Fest

Bruce Springsteen at Jazz Fest…way too crowded.

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