Sunday, 29 June 2014

A Weekend Break in Edinburgh!

While playing a game of 'I have never' a friend of mine realised she had never been to Scotland and with our university city only three hours away from Edinburgh the Scottish capital, a plan was born. 

We managed to pack so much into such a short trip and man were my feet killing! It was so crazy to grasp the notion that we had passed into another country and to see the Scottish flag instead of the Union Jack, I feel like we hardly ever use the solely English flag. We were spoilt for traditional architecture and beautiful sites. I loved seeing the way the natural countryside transitioned into city. On our first night we climbed Calton Hill where the skyline was breathtaking. The clear development of civilisation reminded me of all the accounts in The Book of Mormon in which people would migrate, colonise and create whole new cities within the wilderness. It was such a beautiful concept to see illustrated. 

The castle while beautiful was certainly different than those I am used to. It seemed more a cluster of homes or a village set on the hill instead of a grand unified building. To make the most of our short trip we decided to walk everywhere. Not personally being able to drive I have realised how much more of the world we take in when we walk. The wonderment of the simplicity. Driving through an area always makes it appear different. There seems to be so much of an authentic connection and knowledge of a place when we walk. (Saying that, there are of course times when I would love to be able to drive!) The streets were full of performers, tourists, the Scottish accent and sunshine! We expected the weather to be pretty grey and were so pleasantly surprised when the sun came out to play! Although we definitely didn't pack light summer clothes! We'd all brought jackets and jeans!  

The hidden history of Edinburgh is one in plain sight. Along the main streets, particularly the Royal Mile there are small street or 'close' signs lower than the average height of a door placed peculiarly along the whole street. These where all once 'closes' where people lived. We went to a tourist attraction called The Real St Mary King's Close, at first I was apprehensive incase it would scare me! But it was absolutely brilliant! 

We were taken underground to visit one of the old 'closes' that than been built over. It was so dark and cramped, it's crazy to imagine people used to live there. Our tour guide was so dramatic and engaging. We were taught about the Black Plague (something I barely remember from Primary School), the different social and economic classes, ghost stories and much more. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos due to the ownership of the land. On the rest of our visit we would stumble across such signs for old 'closes' that were now walls of stores, etc and be mega excited marvelling that it was once a narrow street of homes! 

J K Rowling visited Edinburgh a lot while writing the Harry Potter books and we were lucky enough to eat at the cafe where she wrote the first book! While she initially came up with the idea on the train from London to Manchester, The Elephant Cafe seemed to become a hub of activity for her story writing. With a clear unique brand identity and Scottish menu it seemed an unlikely place until you went into the toilets. Small with whitewashed walls they were completely covered in brightly coloured graffiti or 'letters' for want of a better word. It was amazing!! People had clearly travelled far and wide to leave a message for the author of such a beloved book that was our childhood. The plumbing even carried messages, with a pipe stating 'SNAKE IN THE PIPES', references to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes U-No-Poo and many with heartfelt messages. 

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