An American Abroad: Edinburgh, Scotland yields numerous historical attractions

Last Saturday, I found myself in Edinburgh, Scotland, a city full of stone, tartan and bagpipes.
But let me rewind to the beginning. Sunderland University planned the Edinburgh trip, so my friends and I had to catch the coach bus at City campus. The bus left at 7 a.m.
We had to walk 25 minutes from our flat and decided to leave at 6:15. I slept in and woke up at 6.
As we walked Sunderland’s streets under dark skies, I felt both flustered at waking up late and excited to visit Edinburgh. There was a certain air of adventure at waking before the sun rose. In only two and a half hours, we’d be in another country.
I slept most of the way. When I woke up, the “Welcome to Scotland” sign flew past the window, complete with the country’s waving white and blue flag.
I looked to my left and saw endless rolling fields full of sheep. On my right was the North Sea. Cliffs dipped down into crystal blue waves.
The bus dropped us off in the city center, and we began the 10-minute walk to Edinburgh Castle. The first thing I noticed about the city was the stone. The buildings are stone, and the streets and sidewalks are stone. I thought I had taken a time machine back to the 1700s.
The streets were full of looming monuments, street vendors and of course, bagpipers. The minute the sound hit my ears, I smiled and hurried to find the source of the music. An older man stood under the eave of a building decked out in a kilt, playing the bagpipe. There was so much to take in, but I rushed on to keep up with the group. We wound our way up to the castle, which sat above the city. We were so high that it began to mist as the sun shone in our eyes. Edinburgh Castle towered above us, and it was exactly what I thought a Scottish castle should look like. There were parts inside the grounds where jagged rock stuck out from the walls and grass grew on top of the rock. The castle was beautiful, but it had rough edges as though to warn enemies that it didn’t mess around. The short walls opened up to a fantastic view of the city below. The slight rain had even brought out a rainbow.
I visited the crown jewels exhibit, the Great Hall, the Scottish National War Memorial, the Military Prison and the Prisons of War. I loved the Military Prison because it included accounts of men who were punished for desertion and being drunk on guard.
Afterward, my friends and I set to exploring the city. We wandered down empty cobblestone streets and found shops full of minimalist jewelry and expensive tartan cashmere scarves.
We even found the Thomas Riddell tombstone in Greyfriars Kirkyard. J.K. Rowling allegedly adopted this name for the villain in the “Harry Potter” series.
We looked into St. Giles’ Cathedral, and I was awe-struck at the stained glass windows. There were pale yellows and whites and the darkest blues and purples. The windows brought life to the dark stone interior.
The day ended with good food at a hostel and bar called Belushi’s. I wasn’t ready to leave, but I said goodbye, knowing I’d be back in a few days to visit my family. Edinburgh has this certain familiarity to it that’s comforting while abroad.
To quote Alan Rickman, “I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home.”
Until next time, cheers!

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