Day 2: The first day of the New Year! I could walk this city for the rest of my life and never get tired. It’s like every single turn I make is worth a postcard. Today we went to the Edinburgh Castle which was very different from the German castles I’ve been to. This castle was more of a museum with many interesting rooms, such as where a prince was born or where the Queen had high tea or even a room with the Scottish Crown Jewels. I enjoyed the history and upkeep of the castle, but also missed the ones in Germany which were basically ruins that you were allowed to explore. The views from the castle were breathtaking (and so were the cold winds).

Edinburgh Castle from below
Scottish Flag over Edinburgh
Inside Edinburgh Castle
Old Canons facing the North Sea

After the castle, we stopped by a Scotch Whisky Tour which showed us how whiskey is made, which parts of Scotland make the whiskey and what their taste is usually like (i.e., the Highlands usually produce floral whiskeys) and even gave us taste samples! It was a little too strong for my taste, but the experience was definitely one to keep. We ended the night early since not many other attractions were open due to New Years Day. My friend decided to turn in early and I decided to go on a hunt for some live music. Again, something I probably wouldn’t have done a year ago. I sat in the bar connected to our hostel for a little bit and mingled with some Australians here on vacation (seriously, I meet so many Australians while traveling and they’re all incredibly friendly and social). He decided to go to a bar with his friends and offered for me to join, but I declined and again went out to see what else this city would bring me.

I ended up at Stramash, on Cowgate which is known as a street lined with bars and live music. I sat on the side with a cold Swedish cider and watched as people danced and the band set up. When I went to pay for my second drink, someone noticed my American accent and started a conversation. He and his buddies were from America and in the Navy and I ended up dancing with them and a girl from Romania and just getting to know them. Turns out, one of them was from New Jersey! Not only the same state but South Jersey. He went to school just miles away from me. We freaked out and bonded over this crazy coincidence and all was going well until a man started to round them up. Time to move to the next bar, fellas!  They were on a pub crawl and asked me to tag along. I pondered for a second, thought about the live music, and thought about the unknowing of where I’d end up if I went with them. And I went with them. And it was terrific. We stopped at one more bar and finally a club where we all danced until 3 in the morning until I finally left back for the hostel. Tired and a little sweaty, the walk home in the empty streets of Edinburgh with the birds chirping above me was a walk I’ll never forget. A perfect and memorable first day into the New Year.

If there is any advice I could give any young traveler, it’s to just go for it. Of course, be cautious, don’t be stupid and just say yes to everything, but be ballsy and take chances. I made the decision to go out alone and it was the greatest decision I made this entire trip. It’s exhilarating to do things you wouldn’t normally do at home. But hopefully you probably already know this. Common backpacker knowledge right? I guess it just depends if you keep your word.


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