Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"This is how you say it: 'Edin-bRa'." (aka a wee account of my adventures in Edinburgh)

Hey Everyone!

So, I'm back from Scotland, and I have so much to write about!  I couldn't really figure out how to write it out best so I'm going to sort of give you a chronological order of my trip up north with some thoughts along the way.

Well, we can begin on Friday morning I guess, when I actually was in London visiting the Globe Theatre.  It was great to see the theatre and talk about how they had recreated it to look and feel like it did during the late 16th and early 17th century.  I'm sure I'll be writing about it more when I actually go to a play there this summer, so I'll write more then (interesting fact from the blog: for those of you that don't know the term "Groundling" actually comes from The Globe Theatre.)

After class I went back to my room and finished packing, said good-bye to my flatmates and met up with my friend Laura.  The two of us then went and picked up our tickets at Kings Cross and then went to Starbucks (where I am now a member and earn awesome Starbucks stars...2 away from the next level!).  We then got on the train, which was pretty comfy, but the ride was really long.  Overall it was a little over five hours.  They had to slow down due to wind advisories!  

When Laura and I arrived in Edinburgh we were going to meet up with four of our friends who were already at the Hostel we were all booked in.  However, due to my excitement and lack of planning due to said excitement I completely forgot (or didn't bother with trying) to find the directions from the train to the hostel.  Basically the only thing I knew was that it was near the Castle, which could mean anything in a city.  So, the first 20 minutes or so in Scotland for Laura and I were a little interesting, but we finally got in touch with some of our friends and eventually found the hostel.
This is our hostel, "The Castle Rock."  We met some really interesting people there.  It was an amazing place to stay with an incredible location! 
By this time it was around 9 on Friday night.  Our other friends who were coming in on an airplane arrived literally five minutes after us, so we all decided to go find a fun pub to have a drink at before going to bed.  We ended up finding an Irish Pub near our hostel in the old city.  It was an amazing atmosphere.  Everyone seemed so happy, was dancing to the live band (including Bono guy, who absolutely loves dancing to U2) and having a great time overall.  It made me really happy to be somewhere else, away from the somewhere else I've been the past month (if that makes any sense).

The next morning we went to The Elephant House Cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two Harry Potter books.  It was magical to say the least....haha (honestly I wrote this blog last night and decided to read it again this afternoon when I was more awake and I realize that that was a horrible joke and I apologize for it.)
room where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter 1 and 2

After that we walked around the old town part of Edinburgh.  It was beautiful.  There were no chain stores, just cafes, old artisan shops such as old book stores and the classic pubs.  It was amazing how the roads (made of cobble stone) weaved up the steep hills and were lined by these buildings with huge spires in the background.  It was really great!  Once we got to the top of the hill towards the Castle, we realized the amazing landscape that surrounded the city!  It was great to breathe some fresh air!
Corner of the Edinburgh Castle, our hostel is the building on the left with the scaffolding. 

We toured the castle for a while.  It was great to see all of the old buildings and structures within the castle.  Although it was also great to escape the cold for a bit inside one of the gift shops where they were handing out free tastes of Scottish Whisky.  I had a couple tastes, I love Scotch.

After the castle we explored a bit.  I tried on some hats...
Sherlock has nothing on this guy.

Scottish Cow?
After the queen knights me I plan on walking around like this.

Then after a nice break we went to eat at a pub on the Royal Mile and then we went on a "Pub Crawl."  The tour took us to five different pubs and one club.  We got numerous drink deals and had a great time with each other, while also meeting some interesting folks in Edinburgh.  It was a great way to see the city, have fun and try different Scottish Whiskeys.

Tom Riddell (changed to Tom Riddle in the book) aka Voldemort

Me in front of the Castle

After the tour we went to a pub on the newer side of town and I had Haggis for the first time.  It was definitely interesting.  It was more spicy then I thought it would be, and definitely very flavorful.  So for all of you that told me to try it while I was there...I did.

The last night we took it easy, got dinner and then hung out at the hostel.  The next day Laura and I pretty much had the majority of the day to hang out in Edinburgh while everyone had to go back earlier (yay no Monday classes!).  The morning wasn't so great because it was gross and snowy.  Yes, it was actually snowing!  It actually dusted the cars too!  I haven't seen so much snow in such a long time.  I wonder if my friends and family in Connecticut know what its like to see snow?
Snow!  So, I'm guessing this is what everyone back in Connecticut is dealing with, right?

However after taking a break and relaxing back at the hostel we went back out to explore and of course it was sunny and the warmest it had been all weekend.  So by that point after we visited some stores, got some coffee and explored, I was pretty happy to have some extra time in Scotland.

We got on our train around 5:30 PM and it felt good to be going back to London.  It is funny how the whole time I kept thinking, "I'm so happy to go home."  Home being London, England.

Well, today is February 8, 2011.  I left the United States of America exactly one month ago.  I will be arriving back there in a little less than five months.  I have changed a lot over the past month I think.  It is exciting to think about all of the possibilities in the months to come.  The important thing is to stay open to surprises, and take chances.  So, on to the next month!

Thanks for staying with me everyone, it means the world!


These were some pictures that pretty much made me feel like I was definitely without a doubt in Scotland. 


  1. Hey Stephen, I am not sure if I want you to get knighted if that is what you will look like afterward!! I am so glad the trip went well! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.
    Love from home,

  2. Hi Stephen,

    Great recap fromt he weekend! Where next Paris, that will be quite a contrast to Edin-bRa. Seems you packed a lot into a short weekend, but made the most of it, yet again! Had lunch with my Mum today and told her all about your experience to date, and she was thrilled for you and wanted me to send her best to you.

    Looking forward to the next update.

    Tom S

  3. Hi Stephen,

    It sounds like just a great trip with your friends, well except for the address thing of the hostel! Laura is an understanding travel partner, I get scolded all the time by Franzie when we travel just because I forget little things like; where we are going or what time I'm supposed to meet or what color shirt I'm supposed to wear to dinner so we color coordinate. Understanding people are good to be around and make traveling more better!

    Glad you found the hostel it seems like it was a good place for your base. The city looks really neat, old and full of history. I remember when we started learning about J.K. Rowling and read the first book and found out that she wrote the books in a cafe in Scotland, who would have thought that you would be hanging out there!

    As I read each post I find myself smiling and laughing, enjoying every step of the adventure. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Keep enjoying each and every minute!

    I love you

  4. Next up Brussels, then Paris, then Amsterdam, then Cardiff the weekend after that. Lots coming up!