Welcome to Edinburgh

Today was my first day back in the real world, and needless to say, I am coming down from my travel high.  What a whirlwind of a trip.  If I could sum up Scotland in a single phrase, it would be: “majestically dramatic.”  The imposing nature of the landscape created both a mysterious and daunting atmosphere – making writing about it similarly daunting.  So I am going to give you my thoughts on a piecemeal basis.  Today, starting with Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle

DSC_0016The Sir Walter Scott Monument

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Sir Walter Scott is one of the many authors that was born in Scotland.  He wrote the Waverley novels, including Ivanhoe and Rob Roy.   (Other Scottish literary figures include Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and J.K. Rowling.)  Scott’s work celebrates Highland culture, which – at the time – was in danger of being eradicated, and his work has been attributed to reviving it.

King Arthur’s Seat

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Climbing this hill was one of my favorite things that we did the whole trip.  And the view from the top of the hill – incredible:

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We did make the mistake of not bringing water on our trek.  Major failure.  Bring water.

A fun fact about Edinburgh – if you are a Harry Potter fan – is that it provided inspiration to J.K. Rowling.  For instance, Diagon Alley is said to be based on Victoria Street, Hogwarts is supposedly inspired by an Edinburgh prep school – George Heriot’s, and the names of McGonagall and Tom Riddell come from Greyfriars Kirkyard.

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Victoria’s Street aka Diagon Alley
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Tom Riddell and His Father
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McGonagall’s Grave 
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J.K. Rowling’s Handprints

 

I am currently rereading the Harry Potter books – I am on the Prisoner of Azkaban – for the first time as an adult, and it is fascinating what I missed when I read them as a child/teen.

But, back to Edinburgh, we did a lot of eating and drinking, and I have listed by favorite places below.

Montpeliers Bar & Brasserie

The Dragonfly

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The Grain Store

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We also went to a few others, including Black Pig & Oyster, The Kitchin, and Café Tartine.  All three are in the same stretch near the Royal Britannia , next to a beautiful fountain, with seating outside.

Next up – Trossachs National Park.

Pack with me for Scotland

As I get ready for my trip, I thought I would share what I am packing.  I have never been to Scotland before so packing has included some guesswork.  By the end of the trip, I can share with you what worked and what didn’t, but for now, here are some of  – what I am assuming – will be the essentials.

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During our trip, the weather is generally “mostly cloudy” with highs in the low 70s/ high 60s and lows in the 50s.  Rain is also likely.  So item one on the list is a rain jacket.  My rain jacket is the Venture 2 jacket from North Face.  My hiking boots are Oboz Bridger Mid in Walnut.  My leggings are from Lulu Lemon, and I got my sweatshirt while hiking in West Glacier, Montana (a trip that is definitely worth taking if you’ve been thinking about visiting out-West).

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We rented a car for our trip, and I was unaware that Hertz required non-EU citizens to have an international driving permit until yesterday… so I was in a panic.  But, as it turns out, it is SUPER easy to get one.  You just need two passport photos – which i got in about two minutes at CVS – and your license.  Then just fill out this easy form, and take it to your nearest AAA.  The whole process took about five minutes, and I walked out of AAA with a permit – same day.  So if you booked a car and didn’t realize that you needed a permit, don’t panic.  I’m just hoping that this international driving excursion turns out better than my last one…. When I went on a trip to Ireland, I ended up totaling the car.  However, in my defense, the roads there are treacherous.  In fact, when we were returning the car, the lady at the rental agency was on the phone with someone who had crashed within five hours of picking up the car.  My advice – get the insurance.  It is worth it.

On another note, I have recently become a makeup geek – the only other lady at my office is a makeup goddess and she turned me on to the beauty industry; now I can’t get enough … which, if you’ve read my other post, is a ongoing theme in my personality.

In any event, choosing what products to bring with me when I travel has become difficult.  (As one of my best friends would say – what a “champaign problem.”)  I do, however, have a few specific products that I know I can rely on and therefore they come with me on every trip. They include, in no particular order: physician’s formula butter bronzer, Tarte shape tape, Two Faced’s Better Than Sex mascara (this mascara gets sold out very quickly – but it is also available at sephora, Marc Jacob’s velvet noir major mascara, Maybelline Fit Me matte and poreless powder, Laura Mercier translucent loose setting powder, and Chloé Eau de Parfum (the scent lasts FOREVER and I am in love with it).

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My current obsession is this new wallet that I bought for this trip from Aspinal of London.  It has dividers for tickets, passport, documents, and boarding passes, along with a little pouch for change.  It seemed perfect when I bought it, but it has yet to stand the test of actually being used – so I will let you know how it worked out.  For now, it seemed like a great investment.

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Finally, choosing a book to come with me is also a challenging task.  I’m currently in the middle of a couple – I tend to read multiple books at once because I never know what kind of reading I will be in the mood for night-to-night – but I don’t usually like to bring one that I have already started when I am traveling.  Bringing a brand new book avoids the problem of finishing one before the trip is over, and having to lug two books home.  Additionally, the book needs to be paper-back so that I can lug it around with me without feeling like my arm is going to fall off.  My problem there is that I am a super for hard-back books, so most of the books that I own that are on my “to-read” list are hardbacks.

The few that I do have are mostly history and include:

  • Allison Weir’s Queen Isabella
  • Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare 
  • Lawrence Goldstone’s The Activist 
  • Roger Crowley’s City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas
  • Anthony Everitt’s Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician

I still am up in the air, but I’ll let you know what I end up choosing.