Haggis In A Can. II. Edinburgh. Belford hostel.

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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Calton Hill
Belford hostel was all it promised to be and so much more (you can find the detail information in my reviews list). My dorm (cubicle) had 3 bunk beds and I've noticed that so far I have 2 neighbors. One of them I've met straight away, a student from Leads who enrolled in Edinburgh university to study accounting. A really nice and friendly chap. My other roommate still remained a mystery. When I was left alone in the room, I've noticed a stack of paper on the table, A4 sheets of what turned out to be some girl's CVs. Since they'd been left openly in the public, I decided there's no harm in taking a quick peek and discovered my other roommate was a German girl from Berlin. No picture. Intriguing.
Arthur's Seat (view from Calton Hill)

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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Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Venus woke me up sometime around 6 am. The Morning Star was presiding gracefully over the calm coastal landscape, the color of the night sky clearly indicating the approaching dawn. I pulled my cheek away from the window and, fighting the temptation to fall back into peaceful slumber, decided to witness the sunrise. After all, given my lifestyle, I haven't seen it for a long, long time.

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.
Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
After settling into my seat and indulging in 5 minutes of smalltalk with my neighbor, I soon realized that sleep will be a truly elusive creature tonight. Since the passing scenery offered no more than the mundane highway, I soon fell into the numb unconscious trans well known to most long journey bus travelers. Awakened a few hours later by the drivers loud announcement of our arrival in Newcastle and the following wave of Ohforfucksake! amongst my sleepy fellow passengers, I once again curled up into something of a mix between the fetal position and Kama Sutra's page 79, just to be caught an hour later by the flocks of seagulls outside, silently greeting the dawning of yet another Saturday in Scotland...

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.
New Town, Leith and Firth Of Forth from Calton Hill

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.
Belford Hostel. Yup, it's a church :D
My first impression of the city was awe-inspiring. "Nice", I thought to myself, "cold, but nice."

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...

junartkim says:
It's really 360 degrees of picturesque Edinburgh. Very nice I want to go back! ;)
Posted on: Dec 20, 2012
SheLuvz2Fly says:
Well written indeed!! You should be a writer!!
Posted on: Mar 14, 2010
Calton Hill
Calton Hill
Arthurs Seat (view from Calton Hi…
Arthur's Seat (view from Calton H…
Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
Old Edinburgh from Calton Hill
New Town, Leith and Firth Of Forth…
New Town, Leith and Firth Of Fort…
Belford Hostel. Yup, its a church…
Belford Hostel. Yup, it's a churc…
photo by: vances