By the time I made it to a bed in Edinburgh, I had been awake for 36 hours – much of which was spent flying and exploring the streets of London. So naturally, I was pretty exhausted and in need of a good night’s sleep. Thankfully my hostel was comfortable. I slept until 10:30 A.M. the next day, which is abnormal for me (I’m part of the rare breed of morning people). I was slightly disappointed that I missed so many daylight hours, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day.
While researching Scotland in the weeks prior to my trip, I read many forum posts, blogs, etc. that raved about the Full Scottish Breakfast. So I set out down the Royal Mile to find one. I felt energized as soon as I stepped out of my hostel. January 3rd was a crisp and overcast day and soft beams of sunshine were poking through the clouds. The sound of bagpipes (no, I’m not joking) floated through the cool morning air. I fell in love with the sound of bagpipes at a rather young age, so this was a dream come true! They soon distracted me. I had passed several pubs serving Full Scottish Breakfasts in pursuit of the origin of the music. Finally, I discovered him – a man dressed in a kilt playing the bagpipes in front of St. Giles Cathedral. I stood and listened to him until my feet grew sore from the cobblestones beneath them.
By the time I continued down the street, breakfast was no longer offered at most restaurants. I was not disappointed by this, I had five more days to have these experiences. I stopped at the first pub I saw for a heavy lunch. It was called Castle Arms and it had a cozy atmosphere. There was a chalk painting of Scotland on the ceiling and a warm, backlit bar. I ordered sausage and mash and a cup of Americano. The food was delicious, so rich and full of flavor. The mashed potatoes were much more dense than you would find in a typical American restaurant and the sausage was well seasoned. I don’t believe, however, that I’ll ever get used to the strength of European coffee. I’m honestly embarrassed by how much milk and sugar I have to put in even an Americano to be able to drink it.
Though I was happy with the food and in love with the Edinburgh environment, I made the mistake of not drinking enough water the day before and the dehydration was making me sick. In the future, I will have to remember to drink twice as much water than I normally would. I went back to the hostel to practice some self care in the form of rest and hydration. Because I was spending more time than previous trips, there wasn’t as much pressure to be constantly doing something. I was a little bummed, however, that I woke up from my nap at 4:30 P.M. when the sun had already set. That was before I left the hostel, though. In other European cities I’ve visited such as Warsaw, Prague, and Bucharest, the city grew quiet when it grew dark. Edinburgh, however, was booming even late into the night.
Again, I didn’t feel like I missed out on much – which I quickly found to be a theme. I hiked up High Street to the Edinburgh Castle. It was magnificent, even at night. It was uplit that gave the stone an eerie orange hue. The castle sits up on a cliff, from which is a spectacular view of the city. North of the castle, the Christmas market was still active, the Ferris wheel flashing and spinning and holiday lights twinkling in the Christmas tree grove. After spending time admiring the view, I walked back down the Royal Mile until I ran out of lit buildings. During my walk, I noticed that many restaurants had signs in the window or out front that said things like, “Children Welcome” or “Families welcome until 8 P.M.” Seeing so many signs led me to believe that children were not welcome in restaurants unless otherwise stated? The thought gave me a laugh but I don’t know if that’s actually the case.
On the way back to the hostel, I stopped at Royale Cafe for fish and chips. Writing this post, I saw that they don’t have great reviews; but I had an enjoyable experience. The food was great and the cafe was quiet (my favorite). The cod was very fresh and the chips had that flavor that I just can’t place or find in American fries. (I’m quite obsessed with European fries. Thank you Belgium!) Overall, it gave me quite a pleasant end to an enjoyable day.