Haggis In A Can. II. Edinburgh. Belford hostel.
Edinburgh Travel Blog› entry 2 of 3 › view all entries
September 26th, 2009 – by: enic
I've met this mysterious stranger the same evening. And one look at her blew my mind. There was something about her. She was beautiful, friendly, intelligent and charming yet quite straight-forward and frank. To say that I fell for her within the first few minutes that I had talked to her would be silly and immature. Still - I did. And considering I had just declared my absolute freedom of all commitments a few days before and had set off to Scotland beginning my newfound vagabonding lifestyle, falling for someone on the first day of my trip was the last thing I needed. And still - I did.
But, lo and behold, fate has some very clear signals it sends you to put you back on track when you're straying away from the chosen path. Five minutes was enough for me to fall for her, ten minutes - to find out she has a boyfriend, twelve minutes - to discover she actually met him here in the hostel, fifteen minutes - to be told that they had had an argument and had split up and one more extra minute to summarize that they are back together and are really happy.End of story. All in all, this emotional roller-coaster left me all but sad, I actually felt happy for them, perhaps just feeling relieved that my plans of world travels will remain unchanged. And still...
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September 26th, 2009 – by: enic
My plan was ingeniously simple - to take the coach service departing from London Victoria at 11 pm through the night while I calmly snooze away and wake up upon my arrival in Edinburgh the next day at 8 am, feeling refreshed and rested, ready for a day of exploring. The reality, however, turned out to be less poetic.
Scotland... For years it was a land of mystery for me, my terra incognita, the misty shores from Celtic fairytales and legends, noble clans roaming the highlands, unicorns grazing in hidden glens and druids worshiping the forest spirits and elves or Mother Nature herself.
The bus slowly rolled into the sleepy Edinburgh. At this time of the morning it looked like a ghost town, probably still recovering from the Friday night. It was 8 am when I, dazed and confused, sleepy due to the 3 hectic hours of sleep and cold due to the same lack of sleep and the breath of Scottish autumn, staggered upon St Andrew's square. Though I picked up some local maps and to-do lists at the coach station, I decided to enjoy my freedom and allow myself to do what I do best - get lost in the city.
Aimlessly wondering down Prince street in quiet desperation for a hot cup of tea, I found myself ascending Calton Hill, which uncovered the magnificent yet still sleepy city in all it's glory. There I was, standing at the highest point in Edinburgh, watching the city spread as far as the eye can see - from the Leith by the Firth of Forth and it's islands to the classic New Town, through West End and historical Old Town, with the castle dominating the scene, right down to Holyrood Park and magnificent Arthur's Seat right at my feet.
The city of Northern winds, as I've come to know it, really blew me away. Literally. Some stronger gales made it impossible to advance, constantly blowing hair in my face obstructing the vision. Not to mention chilling to the bone.
What followed was an absolutely random wander through what seemed to be central Edinburgh, descending Calton Hill, past Alexander House, up Prince street, turning to the North bridge then up the Royal Mile, past St Gile's Cathedral ("Nice!") straight up to the Edinburgh castle. Being a convinced low-budget traveler (read: tramp) and having a firm position against commercializing of historic and cultural sites, as well as the sheer will to spite the greedy tourism industry, I'd made a decision before setting off on my journey not to spend a single penny on tourist attractions and see as much as I can gratis. With that in mind, after I had explored as much of the castle as I possibly could without purchasing a ticket ("It's just another medieval castle anyway"), I took the steps down to the foot of a prehistoric volcano, on which the fortress rested. The huge slabs of dark basalt rock really impressed me, I must admit, perhaps even more than the castle itself.
The next few hours were spent wondering into the suburbs south of the Old Town, looking for a cheap place to grab a bite. Eagerly devouring a Sainsbury's sandwich, I continued my aimless wondering until I came to a very familiar neighborhood.
"Impossible," I thought, "where could I have seen this place before?" And then it hit me. Being as bad with directions as I am (I think they have a scientific name for it, actually), I took a precaution of looking my hostel up on Googlemaps photos. Thanks again, Google! There it was - without any intention, I've stumbled upon Belford Hostel.
Leaving my bag at he reception and confirming that check-in was at 1 pm, I've once again set off to the city, still slightly puzzled by the serendipity of my random wandering...