On Friday, we left Cambridge at 6am for the Stansted airport in London, so that we could catch our 8:20 flight to Edinburgh. I didn’t know what to expect in Edinburgh, but upon first seeing the coastline of Scotland from my window seat on the plane, I knew I was going to love it there. We stepped off the plane and were happy to find that it was in the sixties, which is probably the perfect temperature. As we rode the bus from the airport to the Royal Mile, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the brick streets, old buildings, landscape, and castles that we could see from the bus window.
As we walked to our hotel, we were welcomed by adorable shops, quaint alleyways, and the sound of bagpipes in the distance. We arrived at our hotel and were shocked to see that our hotel was really an apartment, incredibly clean, modern, and beautiful. We had a kitchen, 2 bathrooms for 4 people, AND a top sheet! Compared to our dorms at Cambridge, this place was heaven.
After dropping off our bags, we went to the Queens Gallery and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. At this point, I think we’ve seen just about every place the British Royal family has ever stayed in the UK. In true Royal family style, the palace was incredible. It was interesting to hear the way Scotland portrays Mary Queen of Scots in such a kind way, because we’ve always heard about all of the terrible things that Mary did to the Protestants. We call her Bloody Mary, and they call her Mary Queen of Scots. To each his own, I suppose.
Later, we hiked to the top of Arthur’s Seat, which is quite the hike but well worth it, because the view is breathtaking. If you ever get the chance to go to Edinburgh, I highly recommend going to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I think it was one of my favorite things this summer. Plus, I think I’m going to have legs of steel after hiking up that mountain and walking the hilly brick streets of Scotland.
Friday night, we had an elegant group dinner of salmon, duck, fruit sorbet, wine, haggis, and other Scottish dishes. After dinner, we watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic games and cheered for our good old USA all the way from Scotland.
Saturday and Sunday consisted of shopping, exploring a castle, walking around Edinburgh, and touring the Royal Yacht Britannia. It was all incredible, but out of those two days, my favorite was touring Britannia. It was the most elegant ship I’ve ever seen, and carried the Royal family on their adventures at sea until 1997 when it was decommissioned. We saw the Royal family’s apartments and had tea in a boat tea room overlooking the water.
One afternoon, we were on our tenth souvenir shop, looking for the perfect plaid scarf. We were debating over an abundance of scarves in one store, and the Scottish man who ran the store asked if we were doing okay. Let me just take this time to say how incredibly nice and hospitable the Scottish people seem to be. Also, they seem to really like Americans. Anyway, we started talking to the man and we told him we were from Florida. He explained how he goes to Florida 3 or 4 times a year and takes his daughter to Disney or goes on a cruise. He told us he was from Edinburgh, born and raised, but frowned when he said it. We sort of laughed and told him that Edinburgh was an amazing city, but he disagreed and told us that America was amazing. Then he said, “Everyday in our store, we fly the flag of the greatest country in the world.” I was half expecting to turn around and see a Union Jack or the Scottish flag. But, we looked in the direction he was pointing and saw our stars and stripes flying at the end of a display that faces every customer who walks in the door. And I couldn’t help but smile at that.