Besides my first weekend here, this was the very first time I spent all weekend in Edinburgh!! I know, that seems highly ridiculous. However, I have been making my weeks very productive in terms of exploring the city, knowing that I was traveling on the weekends. But, having said that, I was still ridiculously excited to be here for an entire weekend. SO, we decided to start the weekend on Thursday of this week, because, let's face it...why not?? So on Thursday, Nora, Carolyn and I decided to go on a walk and explore the city before we had to go to class. Luckily, we got sun (!!) for those brief couple hours in the middle of the day, so we took advantage them. First off, Carolyn and I sat at the Starbucks right on High Street, waiting for Nora to come and meet us and just talking about life and how much we love being here. I can't believe I only have 3 months left in this city, and with these people I've met here. That thought really bums me out, but I'm determined to make the most of all of it. Anyway, once we were all together, we walked down across the bridges towards the Walter Scott Memorial...we looked like total tourists the whole time, because all three of us had our cameras out, snapping shots of everything we could see. We paid to get into the Memorial and proceeded to walk up all 287 stairs to the top of it! Half way up, there is a little museum that explains what the monument is for, and what accomplishments Walter Scott had during his life. He was a pretty impressive guy! At each stair landing though, there was incredible 360 views of the city, and the further you went up, the more beautiful everything got. We could see the ocean, the mountains, and of course the amazinggggg city skyline and the castle!! The best part of the walk though was that there was a bagpiper playing on the street below us, and we could hear his music the entire time. The second we got to the top of the building, he started playing Amazing Grace, so we just stood there, looking over the entire city and listening. It was an amazing moment for sure. First of all, the bagpipe is beautiful, and second of all, I cannot imagine a more perfect city to listen to it in. Once we had taken about a million pictures, we headed back down the steps and walked to class...not a bad way to spend a couple hours!
Carolyn, Nora and me with the city and the castle in the background--on the Walter Scott Monument
View of our beautiful Castle and the National Gallery down below
View of Arthur's Seat from Walter Scott Monument
Friday was another incredible day exploring my home city. Nora, Emily, Carolyn and I decided to walk the entire Royal Mile--something I can't believe I saved until a month and a half in, but oh well, better late then never! It was a beautiful blue-sky day...a VERY rare occurrence here, so we were feeling pretty lucky. Our end goal was to get to the new Scottish Parliament building because it is open to the public 7 days a week, and then over to Holyrood Palace. We began our journey down the famous street, and even though it is only about 3/4 of a mile down from where we started, our journey took us about an hour to get down to the bottom. We were just wandering, stopping in stores and looking around at the buildings. We wandered into a modern-day Scottish museum, Carolyn stopped to buy presents for her dad's birthday, and Nora got sucked into an antique map shop before we finally made it to our intended destination. The lengthy walk was so much fun--the whole time, I kept reminding myself how many people in the entire world have walked that exact street. The history in this city just boggles my mind. However, we did finally make it down to the Parliament building. It definitely stands out amongst the rest of the gothic architecture that is everywhere. It is a modern building, with a spanish influence to its style--very interesting to say the least, and apparently very controversial amongst the Scottish. Also, despite it's promise to stay open 7-days a week to the public, it was closed on holiday, so we were unable to go inside. We did however, get to cross the street and look around the Holyrood Palace. It's the queen's residence when she comes to stay in Edinburgh, so it's very royal and spectacular. We didn't go inside because it was 17 pounds, but we did peak through the gates and take lots and lots of pictures. After that, we started to feel the cold, so we ran back to a little tea shop to warm up. Reality began to sink in right around then, and we all realized we needed to get some work done that afternoon, so we capped the day off at the elephant house, looking at the sunset and reading some books.
Scottish Parliament Building
Nora, Emily, Carolyn and I outside Holyrood Palace
To finish the night off, Nora had Emily, Carolyn and I over to her apartment because all of her flatmates were gone for the weekend. She lives in a flat that is slightly more removed from the city, and is about a 20 min walk from all of our flats, but the walk is absolutely stunning, so her commute isn't that bad. WE headed over there for a good old slumber party that night, and completed the event with baking a cake and watching girly movies while compiling our blankets and pillows in a pile on the floor. We ate the entire cake (needless to say) and stayed up talking until the early early morning. The next day, after having slept in till about noon, we got up, cleaned, and went for a nice walk around Nora's apartment. She lives across this huge park, and once you get to the other side, there is a whole little community of cute shops and restaurants over there that exist outside of the downtown area that I live in. It was so much fun exploring a new place in the city that I hadn't seen before, and it was another gorgeous day weather-wise, so there were really no complaints! On our way back home though, we saw mass amounts of police men lining the streets of Edinburgh. That day, there was a mass protest/riot going on being led by anti-Muslim people. It was a little scary and really crazy to be int eh city that day, but luckily, we were able to avoid the majority of the gathering. For the most part, I haven't experienced any racism or anti-feelings towards any of the muslims here, but obviously there are some intense underlying tensions that exist throughout the city and the rest of the UK.
The rest of the weekend finished off by cramming in some work and research for papers that are coming up. The beginning of this week was pretty much the same--it has started to sink in how much work I have to get done over the next 2 weeks, but I'm trying to remind myself that 2 weeks of stress isn't too bad considering that I deal with much much more at Bowdoin. However, I have gotten very comfortable in the Library over the past couple of days, despite my hatred for that place. It makes it better when you have all of your friends cramming with you as well, and we've been making the week do-able with mandatory movie breaks and walks to get outside. Also, yesterday, the library got even more exciting when we had a famous visitor stop by....the Duke of Edinburgh, aka the Queen's Husband, paid us a visit!!! Emily, Natalie, and I were just walking back from a study brea when we saw a bunch of security gaurds gathered around and lots of students huddle together. We stopped one guard to ask what was going on, and just then, the Duke walked by! He came over to our group and said hi, asked what year we were, and asked if we like the library!!!! That was the first royal person I've ever seen, let alone spoken too!!!! Definitely made the long day in the library worth it.
Tomorrow, I am off on my Scotland Roadtrip Adventure. Certain family members have their reservations about this trip, because yes, we will be driving on the other side of the road, but I'm so so so excited!! I can't wait to tell you all how it goes!! Wish me luck!
New things I did this week/weekend
--visited Walter Scott Monument
--walked the Royal Mile
--saw the Parliament Building and Holyrood Palace
--explored new Edinburgh neighborhoods
--saw a racial protest/riot
--met the DUKE!!