Because I am still quite the “you mean I can be in another country in an hour?!” shock that comes from living in Europe, last weekend I went to Edinburgh. Now I’ve actually been to Edinburgh before and left the place rather smitten, so when I was thinking of going on a break someplace I knew and where they spoke English, it was a bit of a no-brainer when the airfare was cheap to boot. It’s not like I’ve met a Dutchman who didn’t speak English, mind, it’s just incredibly novel to get on a bus and realize you can read all the signs after losing that ability two months prior!
For a weekend away Edinburgh is hard to beat because it’s picturesquely pretty and there’s always something or another going on. Because the weather was quite nice by Scottish standards (only rained once!) I ended up doing a lot of walking the first day, first down the Royal Mile but then with a huge urge to climb the nearby hills in Holyrood Park once I caught sight of them. The views were so worth it-
A great view back towards the city center while climbing Arthur’s Seat, the bump of a hill to the left in the previous picture. At 251 meters tall I don’t think anyone would call it a serious hill, but it’s definitely taller than anything in Holland so there we are (the tallest point in the Netherlands is ~360 meters at the southernmost tip of the country on the border between Germany and Belgium). The incredible thing about the summit though was how incredibly windy it was up there- it felt like a bloody gale to the point where I didn’t dare stand up as getting blown off the top seemed like a probable outcome. I guess they’re called windswept highlands for a reason, right?
It was a nice little trek outside the city proper though, nice enough that the next afternoon I felt motivated to catch a bus for a half hour ride out to Rosslyn Chapel-
Built in the 14th century, Rosslyn Chapel is a lovely little church in the countryside that has gone through various states of neglect over the years and is finally undergoing some long-awaited renovations since The Da Vinci Code was filmed in part here (they used to get 30k visitors a year and now average three times that). While you can indeed go into the crypt to confirm that there is indeed no hidden trapdoor down there like the book/movie said, the church inside is actually incredibly lovely. It feels like every square inch of it was devoted to some lovely carving or ornate statue, and countless little stories presented themselves in the details if you paid close enough attention. No pictures were allowed inside unfortunately, but you can get an idea of the interior on the Wikipedia page.
Finally, Sunday afternoon chapel visit aside, it was a lovely fall afternoon so I couldn’t resist a hike in Roslin Glen below the church-
It’s a rather nice glen, but what really got me excited was how it was actually autumn here! What I mean by this is while the Dutch weather hasn’t been bad since I arrived, it just hasn’t felt like fall at all because it never gets as cold as back home and the leaves don’t change color much either as a result. So there has been no sharp bite in the air while navigating muddy pathways, no admiring foliage on forest paths, and certainly no hills to clamber up and down, so making up for it in a weekend was rather nice.
Plus it turned out there is one final thing in Edinburgh that they do right that they unfortunately don’t do nowhere near as well in Holland- Halloween!
Because I went to Edinburgh straight from work on Friday I decided to take my cowboy hat to work (I was a cowgirl this year), which drew a bit of attention because the Dutch don’t really do cowboy hats, Halloween, or expecting to find a party they weren’t invited to some time in advance. So I was delighted to discover that Halloween is actually huge in Edinburgh- all accommodation was sold out by people wanting to do “ghost tours,” everywhere was decorated to the gills, and you would have looked silly without a costume on Saturday night. Just like in the USA! Well, maybe with less beer and more whiskey.
So all in all a good weekend- luck with the weather, some nice adventures, and a bit of a reminder of things I was missing out on while in Europe. Based on the experience, I think my “you can be in another country in an hour?!” excitement is still very well placed!