In attempt to take a break from recent stresses I made the snap decision to take a break. To spend a day far away from home, so when I saw cheap flights to Edinburgh I snapped them up straight away. Catching the first flight out and last flight back for the evening, exploring a city nearly 400 miles away, was just the ticket.
So off I flew. With just six hours to spend in this picturesque city I had a challenge to fit in as much as possible.
Catching the tram (and I do love a tram) from Edinburgh Airport right into the heart of the city in Princes Street I took a whirlwind tour to see how much I could cover.
What I did not anticipate was how busy and bustling the city would be. With Fringe festival round the corner it seems that everyone had made the trip to visit on the same day as me. So I had to think quickly.
Firstly I headed up to the castle to see what I could fit in there. Nothing it seems. The queues to get into the attraction were phenomenal. I simply could not waste any time in queues with such little time available.
So instead I headed in the opposite direction. Taking a leisurely downhill walk along the Royal Mile I headed to Holyrood Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II.
There were no queues to get in so I jumped at the chance to take a wonder round the palace. Here you are issued with a headset for a walking tour – something I did not choose to take. I simply wanted to wonder round the building without a voice in my head. And it was fantastic. With all the visitors wearing headsets for the tour, the building was silent. So peaceful. So I went from room to room, taking in the history and capturing pictures where possible (note – pictures are not able to be taken inside the Palace as I discovered by not seeing the signs and being told off – ooops). I then spent some time wondering around the gardens and Abbey, taking plenty of pictures where I could.
Leaving the palace I took a left to the one attraction I had set my sights on – Arthur’s Seat. I spent a significant time looking up, watching the bobbing heads make their way up to the top, trying to judge whether I could get to the top and back down again with enough time to make it back into the centre and on a tram to the airport in time for my flight back home.
It was one of the main areas that attracted me to Edinburgh. Google maps estimated it would take 30 minutes to the top, so I had to allow a good two hours – just to ensure that I made it back down in time. I found myself contemplating the trek for quite some time until I thought “I would regret it if I did not do it”. So up I went.
Following other eager adventurers I started my climb.
I’m not going to lie it was tough. Like most mountain climbs, the first ten minutes is a test. I walked a little, I puffed a little, I paused to take in the views (or to catch a breath). At times I thought – “lets just get half way.” When I thought I was almost at the top, the path started a descent. I turned the corner, and realised not only had I take the long route round, but also the tougher route. Looking at my guide book on the plane ride home, I discovered the route I took was described as arduous. The guide book doesn’t lie – the second part of the climb was something else. Walking up a set of stairs that zig-zagged its way up, it required climbing steps so high (downfalls of being short) that it resembled a deep lunge motion. My gluteus maximus had never worked so hard. I was sweating like I had never sweated before and breathing so hard it was like I had just smoked a pack of twenty (and I don’t smoke).
But I got the the final climb – which required a slight scramble to the peak. And boy was the journey worth it.
The views were simply breathtaking.
I sat. I sat at the top for some time. Breathing. Taking in the view and simply enjoying the feeling of tranquillity. It was just what I needed.
It was here that I saw the easier route. The easy road path, followed by a grassy hill climb. Rather different to the route I took on the way up, I found myself feeling rather proud. Proud that I got to the top, unknowingly taking the tough route and not giving up half way.
Sadly – I had to come back down to earth, so I took the easy route. Slowly making a leisurely descent to the palace, soaking up the views on the way down.
Once I had returned to ground level time was slowly ticking away. So, I had to make my way back to the city centre, up the Royal Mile, back to the tram stop on Princes Street – soaking up as much as possible en route. Stopping in for some treats for Ross at the Fudge Shop.
There was so much I did not see or do during my time in Edinburgh. A city that is such a cultural delight, you simply cannot expect to see everything and appreciate what it has to offer in six hours. A day is not enough. I needed more time.
So, as Ross has never crossed the Scottish borders, I plan to return. To explore the city in greater depth and introduce him to the Scottish ways.
Thank you Edinburgh. You were the medicine I needed. I will be back.