day three - 'House on the Hill' and Bear Cows!

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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St. Giles' Cathedral and that "House on a Hill"
I left Erin's at 7am fully awake and quite uppity with large backpack strapped to my back and heart aflutter with excitement. At 7 am, this was a major feat for me. I'm not exactly an early morning person. This morning I was as I was anxious to step into the great beyond...Edinburgh, Scotland! Having never been, this would be a completely new experience for me.

I took the 185, a nice red double-decker, all the way from East Dulwich to Victoria Station. Again, I joined the flow of commuters on their way to work on a beautiful Friday morning, gazing out the window at the quaint shops and hoards of people lining the sidewalks from East Dulwich to Camberwell, from Vauxhall to Victoria station. I sat at the back of the bus on the top floor with U2's City of Blinding Lights playing on my iPod and when we finally made it through the congestion to the central station, I hopped off and made my way across the expanse of the train station towards the Gatwick Express to take me out of the city centre to one of London's other airports.
Great Scot! A bear cow trampling on that House! ...and Phil and I being silly on the bus
My flight to Edinburgh on EasyJet was scheduled for 9:45am and I had to be there at least an hour beforehand.

There were delays on the Express and we arrived a little later than we were supposed to and I found myself hurrying through the airport to try to find the EasyJet desk. I made it with ample time to spare and was able to breathe easier once I dropped off my backpack. I guess I was over-anxious about being in a different airport than I am used to, flying to a place I've never been. It was a little nerve-racking but it got my adrenaline pumping and it was exhilirating in the end.

The whole EasyJet (and later Ryanair) process is a little different than what I am used to in terms of flights. I usually fly on Air Canada or United and so lining up and filing out of the airport, across the pavement towards one of two steps up on to the plane to sit at whichever seat I could find.
Lion at the Edinburgh Castle and me standing by a cannon
..well it was all new to me. That being said, the flight was perfectly fine, the service great and the plane very clean and comfortable. And only 45 minutes in the air! Wow! Up and down and just like that, I found myself stepping off the plane on to Scottish soil.

My friend Phil met me at the airport, first time meeting him face to face as we are friends from an online game. When I first started to plan my trip, he really wanted me to visit during his birthday weekend. He offered to show me around and I decided it would be great. He's living in Edinburgh for study and is actually a native of Manchester. I wasn't nervous or anything. He's been a good friend for over a year now and I know him pretty well. I'm quite open to meeting people just like that.
Calton Hill from the Scott Monument and the Scott Monument from the ground looking up
It really doesn't bother me. I'm careful and I use common sense. I had no worries about hanging out with Phil over the weekend and was so happy to see him. He's quite a bit taller than me in person! I am quite petite.

He grabbed my bag and told me not to worry about anything over the weekend as I am a guest. I eyed him and scoffed before chuckling and making our way to the bus that would take us in to town (he was a fantastic host).  And so my Scottish adventure began!

My eyes were wide with delight as the bus wound its way toward Princes Street. The minute Edinburgh Castle came in to view, I was all giddy and giggly. "Look! It's a Castle!" I pointed and laughed. He chuckled. "It's a house on a hill.
Me on the Royal Mile
" "It's a Castle and its pretty!" I replied, gazing up at it with awe. But it couldn't keep my attention as the bus stopped in the city centre and I stepped out onto a very busy shopping street. I blinked and my jaw dropped as I turned a complete 360 in place. I thought London was old. Edinburgh....what an awesome city! It had such a historic feel to it; I felt like I had stepped back in time. All the buildings were old and beautiful. Many had a funny black color to them but they were still so lovely to see and a lot of the streets were still cobbled. Those cobbles would become an inside joke as I, klutzy as I am, kept tripping over them. I laughed a lot throughout my entire stay...and tripped a lot too!

We walked towards the Royal Mile and beyond, heading back to Phil's flat to drop of my backpack first before taking on the city.
The Bank on the Mound and Edinburgh architecture
He lives with two flatmates in the Uni apartments across the Meadows. It was a nice walk and I got to take in a lot of what the city feels like during that walk. He pointed out Calton Hill and Arthur's Seat, the Scott Monument, the Royal Bank and the Museum of Art with those lovely Egyptian sphinxes perched on top.

Once we dropped off my bag, we headed back to walk along the Royal Mile, stopping first at St. Giles' Cathedral to have a look inside. A hollow crown tower reached high into the sky and stained glass windows cast coloured light across the floor. Lovely architecture and craftsmanship and the large organ was impressive. I am a big fan of arches.

We walked along the Royal Mile and stopped in a Starbucks for a soy chai latté, chatting and joking around for a little while before walking back up towards the Castle, or as Phil calls it, "that house on the hill". We passed a few bagpipers along the way and he kept telling me to go and chat them up. "Why?" I asked. "So they will stop playing those bloody things!" On the way, we stopped in a few souvenir shops and he bought me a few postcards and things. But the minute my eyes fell upon an image of a Highland cow, that was it. "It looks like a bear!" I laughed and he laughed too. They would forever be referred to as "bear cows" by yours truly and I vowed to return one day to go hunting for one to kidnap and bring home with me. They are just too funny-looking. I put a picture of a Highland cow on my MSN. "What's with the yak?" my mother asked me. Yak. Haha! Classic. Phil bought me a small stuffed bear cow and I giggled. I love being silly. Forever young at heart.

The Castle was really nice. We walked through the entire Castle and Phil had to explain to me what the military tattoo was. I had no idea. Oops? It was all good. We had some great views of the city from the castle and caught a glimpse of some of the Crown Jewels as well. Nothing like the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London but the small collection was still pretty. The whole interior was cobbled and needless to say, I was falling all over the place. It wasn't a super fancy castle like the one I visited in Segovia, Spain, but it was still a Castle and I was enchanted. I used to pretend I was a descendant of some Chinese Empress...a little Princess...when I was younger. Who didn't? I love castles.

After the Castle, Phil asked what I'd like for tea. He had to explain to me that they eat three meals: breakfast, dinner and tea which is equivalent to breakfast, lunch and dinner. There would be a lot of quirky language differences pointed out throughout the entire 2 weeks. Better to learn them now as they will be useful later. We ended up heading back to the flat to rest our feet and watch a few episodes of Family Guy before heading off to Frankenstein's. We missed dinner...I mean..."tea", and ended up drinking straight away. A Hen Night spent at Frankenstein's kept me amused and we requested good music. Singing and chatting, joking, and laughing and more drinking. Good fun. We ordered pizzas from a kebab shop late in the evening and headed back to the flat to eat at around midnight, fairly drunk and giggling watching more Family Guy.

This was a crazy fun introduction to Edinburgh and I will certainly sleep well tonight. I look forward to what's in store for me over the next few days.
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St. Giles Cathedral and that Hou…
St. Giles' Cathedral and that "Ho…
Great Scot! A bear cow trampling o…
Great Scot! A bear cow trampling …
Lion at the Edinburgh Castle and m…
Lion at the Edinburgh Castle and …
Calton Hill from the Scott Monumen…
Calton Hill from the Scott Monume…
Me on the Royal Mile
Me on the Royal Mile
The Bank on the Mound and Edinburg…
The Bank on the Mound and Edinbur…
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photo by: vances