By Emma Buchman
As my friend Nick and I sat on our train from King’s Cross, London, we waited eagerly for our arrival into Edinburgh Waverly Train Station. Not only because we were excited to see the city, but also because we had been sitting on the aforementioned train for over four hours talking about how much we hate policy drafts. Shortly after looking at Google maps and confirming that we had crossed the border into Scotland, Nick looked out the window and told me to look as well. We could see the North Sea outlining fields of grass, complemented by small stone houses. Finally arriving in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, I saw a historic city filled with a lot of opportunities for adventure.
It’s boring to constantly drone on about how great this new town you went to is and how you should totally go too, especially when you’re reading this in a newspaper 3,000 miles away. Luckily, Edinburgh spared me this terrible fate by being one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. Edinburgh is what I wished Athens would be like when I went several years ago. Don’t get me wrong, Athens has a rich culture you could drown in and a fascinating history that draws you in over and over, but to me it seemed like its history was just an afterthought in the layout of the modern city. You would wander through less than pristine streets and stare at the graffitied walls that seemed to surround you. Suddenly the Parthenon would spring up on the Acropolis, above the lackluster city that Athens has become.
Edinburgh, however, was like something out of a historian’s fairytale. There were cobblestone streets everywhere, and the antiquity of the castles and churches met the modernity of the pubs and street shows almost seamlessly.
There was so much to do there. It has one of the most beautiful castles that I have ever seen. Edinburgh Castle sits atop a hill overlooking the whole of the city. The sunlight hits it perfectly no matter what time of the day it is, and the greenery around it makes everything pop. There is a perfect view of it from the Grassmarket, which is paved with cobblestones and has too many pubs to count. The interior of the castle is extensive and has parts of it that date back to the 1500s. It has everything any tourist could want: history, shiny stuff, and, of course, a whiskey shop.
Of course, there are whiskey shops apart from the one in the castle, and they are always stocked with bottles of whiskey more precious than your first born child (there were some worth over £4000, or $6,058.) All of the shops seemed to embody the honey color of the different whiskeys, and the atmosphere was always warm and inviting. Of course, tasting the whiskey was always the best part. At 46 percent alcohol content, it will wake you right up.
For my fellow nerds, there are a couple of Harry Potter sites to visit. The majority of them are either places where J.K. Rowling wrote the books (The Elephant House and the Balmoral Hotel) or that provided inspiration for characters. One example is Greyfriar’s Kirkyard which contains the grave of one Thomas Riddell, who is rumored to be the inspiration for the name of Voldemort’s father, Tom Riddle.
As I write this article on the four hour train ride back to London, I am reflecting back on my time in Edinburgh and how much more I wish I could have done. I am a firm believer in taking every opportunity as it comes to you, even if you have to go somewhere alone or you have to drag yourself out of your comfortable double hotel bed to go and do it (though I’m also a believer in taking advantage of sleeping in a double bed for as long as possible.) Edinburgh has quickly climbed its way to my top three favorite cities, and I barely scratched the surface of the culture that it had to offer. Cities like this don’t come to up very often in a lifetime, so if you find yourself captivated by a new city, don’t just sleep. Absorb as much as it as you can to hold you over until the next time you go.