It's been a few years since I fell in love with a city. Florence and Rome stole my heart a few years ago, but since then, my explorations have failed to ignite the same passions for any such locations. Though I greatly enjoyed Denia on the coast of Spain, it felt much more like a lively Mediterranean seaport, than a historic European city.
To be honest, as I was riding the airlink bus in from the airport, I wasn't much impressed with Edinburgh from my first glimpses of the city. The bus came thrown the new city, and it looked much like London or Dublin - both cities that are disappointingly similar to American cities. But the bus stopped at Waverley station - basically the portal between the old city and the new - it sits on a bridge and divides the two worlds. Brad and I hopped in a cab, and were brought onto the other side of Edinburgh. For what it's worth, though cabs are not the cheapest form of public transportation, you'll sometimes get lucky, and end up with a driver who will give you a quick tour and historic background of the city while you're on your way to your destination. Unfortunately, I had more than a little trouble understanding Scottish accents, so a lot of information was lost on me.
We stayed in Grassmarket, in the appropriately named Grassmarket Hotel. The hotel was quite exquisite - with a bottle of complimentary Prosecco, and an interactive map on the wall of each room to help you plan out your time in Edinburgh. The first floor of rooms, however, sit directly above Biddy Mulligan's, an Irish pub. As much as I loved the hotel, I would not recommend that anyone stay on the first floor, unless you're a particularly heavy sleeper. While the hotel is actually impressively soundproofed for noise coming from the outside, unfortunately, it doesn't block sound coming from the inside of the building. And each night, live music is played in the pub downstairs from 10pm - 1am. It radiates throughout the ground and first floor. Thus, the next morning, Brad and I moved to a higher floor, and slept peacefully for the rest of our stay.
We made the most of our few short days in Edinburgh. Unfortunately, we spent a sizable chunk of one day bouncing from medical center to medical center, trying to find somewhere that would take a walk in so late in the day. It had been a week since I had been attacked by a dog in Spain, and I needed to get my stitches removed. Luckily, my British citizenship grants me free healthcare, so the process - once we found someone who would actually accept me without an appointment - was relatively easy.
We spent the rest of our time wandering the streets, ambling up and down the Royal Mile, and exploring Edinburgh castle. We even indulged in the touristy guilty pleasure of embarking on a ghost bus tour, which was hilariously entertaining. Sometimes, I find exploring a city by night is so much more revealing than exploring it by day. I always seem to get a better feeling for the true essence of the city - its history and grandeur. We first visited Edinburgh castle at night, and it was quite a marvelous sight. Returning the next day, I found that its allure had worn off ever so slightly. It's as if the city comes alive at night, revealing parts of itself that are kept hidden in the harsh light of day.
I finally came around to trying haggis, and was pleasantly surprised. I'll say this - it's much easier to stomach than black pudding. Neither have particularly appetizing contents, but as far as taste and texture goes, I'd take haggis over black pudding any day. I was sad to leave the city, feeling that our time there had been cut far too short. I would have loved to be able to venture out into the highlands and see the countryside. Alas, a different adventure for another time, I suppose.