Day 3: Everything is still closed because of the holidays so we walked along the Royal Mile again, Cowgate Street, Rose Street, Princes Street, just wandering and taking it all in. We ended up at Calton Hill with an incredible 360 view of the entire city. Originally, my plan was to go at sunrise to Arthur’s Seat, but with little time left it didn’t look like that was going to happen. Next time (because there definitely will be a next time). But Calton Hill was still a sight. It’s beautiful in the middle of the day but the high sun can drown some of your photos with shadows. Although I haven’t been, I would like to think sunrise/sunset would be the best times to go. At the top of the Hill is the Scottish National Monument, which you could climb (although it’s hard. You’ll most likely need someone to pull you up.) It’s unfinished and was created, as I was told, to try and make Edinburgh the Athens of the north. It now symbolizes Scottish soldiers killed in Napoleonic wars.
The rest of the day was spent just wandering the streets. At night, I tried to take my friend to Stramash to experience the live bands, but since it was a Tuesday night not much was happening at 11 pm. A couple ciders later, we head back to the hostel and try to get some rest before our trip to the Highlands tomorrow.
Day 4: The Scottish Highlands and our last day in Europe! We left at 8 in the morning and didn’t get back until 7:30 at night. It is a shame that our last day was spent on a strict schedule on a bus, but it was worth the trip. We saw the Scottish Three Sisters, drove along Glen Coe and even passed the bridge used in Harry Potter. Our priority destination was Loch Ness, where I took a small hike up a mountain to try and get a better view, but no matter how high I went, the trees followed. The best view was from below. We then made our long journey back home, which I spent most of the bus ride napping. Once back at the hostel and completely exhausted, we got dinner at the bar and tried Haggis! The authentic Scottish national dish that consists of a sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs! And it wasn’t that bad. It was a very odd texture… almost like egg whites that aren’t cooked, but the taste reminded me a lot of beef. The only issue was, that this dish was the only thing Kate and I collectively shared a meal and that night, we both got very sick and to the verge of puking. I think our stomachs were just confused as to what we were putting in our bodies, luckily we didn’t eat much of it.
And so, our trip around the United Kingdom comes to an end and I couldn’t be more upset. There was something different about this trip compared to my previous ones. For the first time, I was in charge of what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. And it was exhilarating and liberating. I thought I had the travel bug before. You know, a third-culture-kid who’s traveled for a living and taken luxurious trips to Indonesia and Palau and Hong Kong, traveling was always part of me. But now, it’s different. Now, I’m ready to travel solo and see more cities in shorter amounts of time. I’m ready to drop everything and go.
I’m excited to see what 2017 will bring me. For now, it’s back to college. Thank you, U.K. I’ll see you soon.