My cousin and I in Grassmarket with Edinburgh Castle in the background
This past weekend I travelled to Edinburgh with my cousin, Kat. It’s been a dream of ours to be in Europe together for a long time and next month, more family will be joining us. Kat comes to Wimbeldon every summer and because I am here this year, she decided to come a few days early and take advantage of a weekend trip to Scotland.
I went to Edinburgh in November of 2013 with friends when I studied abroad the first time and I fell in love with the city. The green space everywhere, archaic architecture and the small-town feel make Edinburgh my ideal European city. Last time I was there, I spent a lot of time on the High Street, or the Royal Mile. We started one of our days at Edinburgh Castle (and actually got locked inside the gift shop because Princess Anne had an event there) and ended at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. We also spent a lot of time in shops –buying way too much fudge and far too many souvenirs. We walked around old cemetaries and the Grassmarket area and made a visit to the Elephant House. For Harry Potter fans, the Elephant House is significant because it is where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two books in the series. The cafe’s restrooms are covered in graffiti celebrating the books. I added to the artwork and also took several awkward photos of toilets.
That trip was amazing and it was the only one I took that semester where I didn’t feel rushed with too many things planned for one short weekend. This time, I wanted to maintain that same vibe so when Kat asked me what we should do, I told her we could hike and then go from there. We arrived around 5 pm on Friday and after dropping stuff off our bags, we headed out for a hike up to Arthur’s Seat. The climb wasn’t too high or long, but the paths were tricky and slippery as it had just rained. We had the peak to ourselves and after pinching ourselves back to reality, we descended and called it a day.
On Saturday we took a bus to Portobello Beach where we lost all feeling in our feet due to the freezing water. We sat on a bench and stared out to sea, speechless at the city’s beauty. When we finally tore ourselves away from the beach, we rode into the city centre and visited a few souvenir shops before making it to the Edinburgh Castle gates. The castle was closing, but I remembered there was a great view from Grassmarket. I love Edinburgh Castle because it is very much a “typical” castle; it looks really cool and creepy at night with its silhouette by the moon. We then walked over to the Elephant House and inhaled some of its famous Mallow Delight hot chocolate. I went into the restroom to marvel at the graffiti and was surprised to find that all of my own artwork is still very much intact. I added a bit more and after taking several more photos, we took a stroll through the cemetery behind the cafe.
I was so glad I did things I had missed the first time I went to Edinburgh, and also really happy to revisit some of my favorite spots. Although we were in Edinburgh less than 30 hours, we made the most of our time and it was amazing being able to share one of my favorite cities with my cousin.