A medieval city perched on a hill with majestic Victorian era buildings, antiquated cobbled streets and a history dating back to the neo-lithic times. Seems like a dream right? The good news is that it’s not just that, a city such as this actually exists and this city is the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh.
I travelled to Edinburgh a couple of months back and have no hesitation to say this was my favorite “city” in the United Kingdom. I have specifically mentioned the word “city” as the beauty of the tiny hamlets in the Scottish Highlands is a different proposition altogether.
We were a group of 4 friends who made this journey. I was in London for a couple of weeks and did not want to miss the legendary capital of Scotland. We booked a RyanAir flight from London and if booked earlier a lot of great deals are available in these low-cost carriers making travel cheaper than trains. Our flight was from London Stansted Airport which is located a bit far from the city. Regular buses run from the city to the airport so the connectivity is never a problem.
The flight was a short but beautiful one with beautiful green landscapes visible below. We reached the Edinburgh airport in just about an hour and as soon as I disembarked, I could feel a noticeable change in the weather. It was a cloudy sort of a day and a cold breeze sent shivers down my spine as it touched my shoulder.
The best way to travel from the airport to the city is by the tram. The tram station is located just outside the airport gate and it costs about 5 pounds to reach the city. As the tram chugged out of the station, I could see how beautiful the Scottish countryside was, endless green rolling fields with cows grazing lazily was a sight for sore eyes. Colorful wildflowers which grew along the tracks also added to the ethereal beauty of the place. After a journey of about half an hour we reached the city center of Edinburgh. It was similar to what I thought it would be, just that it was way more beautiful. It seemed that the ancient has married the new in this city, as lines of lively shops selling everything ranging from clothes to high tech gadgets were set on both sides of ancient cobbled streets. The buildings were huge and mostly made of stone giving an imposing feel to it. The mighty Edinburgh castle which is the seat of the Scottish royalty stood tall over the horizon as the Scottish flag flew proudly over a high tower. It had started to drizzle a bit giving a dreamy feel to the entire surrounding as we picked up our cups of coffee and started our walk to our hostel through the mazy lanes of the city. The hostel was about 10 minutes from the city center and was a simple and chilled out one. We rested a bit, freshend up, grabbed one more cup of coffee and was back on the streets exploring the town. I don’t know if my photographs have been able to justify the actual beauty of the town but I have tried to bring a flavor of how an actual day in Edinburgh looks like through these photographs and not merely concentrated on the things to “see’.
In the afternoon there was a brief spell of sunlight when we trekked up to Calton Hill, from where beautiful vistas of entire city was visible. One part of the city was draped in sunlight whereas another part was covered in dark clouds. I was also able to spot a beautiful rainbow. The atmosphere was just surreal as we spent a couple of hours of the top of Calton Hill soaking in the beauty and clicking pictures as we spoke of times gone by till the sun went down the western horizon.
In the evening we planned to go for a “haunted” city tour. Edinburgh is supposedly one of the most haunted cities in Europe, with a long and bloody history, we started the tour at 10 PM and walked around the city for a couple of hours talking about ghosts, spirits and vampires.
We ended the day by buying a few souvenirs and having a hearty dinner comprising of the classical Fish & Chips.
It was a cold and rainy morning as we woke up the next day. After a light breakfast we planned to stroll around the city talking to local people and trying to get a feel of the place. There was some festival in the city and people were out in large numbers. People dressed in eccentric clothes were singing, dancing, acting in street plays, and that’s when I found how happy people are here and I could not but, think about the cities back in India where mornings were only about running to the office and slogging it out.
After lazily ambling about the streets for a couple of hours in the light drizzle we, went back to the hostel, packed our stuff and was back at station waiting for the next train to Inverness, a tiny town deep in the Northern mountains of Scotland.