This is it boys. My final abroad column and also my final last two weeks in Galway, Ireland. With my finals over and my official summer break here, I was able to plan two final trips. The first trip, that started the day after I turned my last final in, was to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Edinburgh is a city I’ve been dying to come to since I was seventeen years old. It’s home to a lot of my favorite television shows and movies such as the Starz hit “Outlander,” and it’s also the birthplace of the Harry Potter series. It’s also a city rich with history and specifically, literature history. Besides J.K. Rowling, the city was home to J.M. Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally, Scotland is also home to the Loch Ness monster– a classic. So, I wanted to go. Really badly.
On the night of April 27, I stepped foot on Scottish soil. Our landing had been an eerie way to be brought into Scotland. It was raining and there was a lot of ominous clouds surrounding the city of Edinburgh, but to be honest, it was nothing out of Edinburgh’s character for the atmosphere to be spooky.
The city of Edinburgh is exactly what you’d think of an olden city. In the old town, where we predominantly explored, the streets are lined with cobblestone and buildings date back to as earlier as the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s charming, but also absolutely beautiful from its architecture to the landscapes surrounding it.
One of the first things we did in Edinburgh was visit Edinburgh Castle. Talk about the coolest castle I’ve seen. It’s right up there next to my trip to Blarney. Edinburgh Castle is this medieval castle right smack dab in the middle of Edinburgh’s old town. Built on an extinct volcano, the castle has been home to monarchs such as Mary Queen of Scots and her sons, James VI and I.
The castle was massive. Plus, being so high up, you got spectacular views of the city. It’s also got cool historical exhibits like St. Margaret’s Chapel and the Scottish crown jewels. When we went to see the Scottish crown jewels, they also advertised “the Stone of Destiny.” I had no clue what it was and I was only drawn to it because it’s called “the Stone of Destiny.” How could you not want to see something called that? It’s just a big old block of sandstone, which I later learned has been used for the coronation of Scottish and English monarchs.
After the castle, our next adventure was Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is a massive extinct volcano right across the city from the castle. It’s one of the main peaks of a group of hills in Holyrood Park. Anyway, it’s huge. Like talk about a climb. The terrain is super rocky and slippery and talk about a time to get up. There were a few times I almost fell off and there were also a few times I found myself crawling. However, it was so worth almost breaking my neck.
Once you reach the top of Arthur’s Seat, the views are phenomenal. In my time abroad, there are three times I’ve been absolutely been absolutely blown away by the landscape’s pure beauty. The first being the Cliffs of Moher, the second being right smack in the middle of the Swiss Alps and finally, the view from the top of Arthur’s Seat. You can see all of the city and even past that to the views of the North Sea. Arthur’s Seat is also extremely beautiful in the spring being that all the flowers are in bloom and even Scotland’s cherry blossoms made an early appearance, causing it to truly be a breathtaking view.
After enjoying all that is Arthur’s Seat, we headed back down to the city for our ghost tours. If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh, a ghost tour is a must. The city is so old and filled with so much dark history such as gruesome murders, hauntings and witches– you just gotta do it. Even if you get easily creeped out by that stuff, still do it because you learn so much about this city’s terrifying history.
The next day we would do some light exploring due to having to catch our plane home that night. We’d start off with a free walking tour of the city– something I also highly suggest because you learn so much about the city in general, but also you give it your own price. We learned so much.
For example, one place we were taken to on the tour was Greyfriars Kirkyard– a graveyard connected to a lot of history. A lot of the names in that graveyard are names J.K. Rowling took and used within the Harry Potter series such as McGonagall and Riddle– being that her daughter’s school was just on the other side, which is also the inspiration for Hogwarts. The graveyard is also home to Bobby, a famous dog that guarded his owner’s grave from grave robbers for his entire life. Bobby is so famous that he has a few taverns and shops named after him. We also checked out Victoria Street, which is the street that inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter due to it’s colorful shops and winding road. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan, just up the street from Victoria is The Elephant House– the cafe that’s taken credit for being the “birthplace” of Harry Potter.
Overall, Edinburgh was amazing. It’s easily one of my favorite cities because of its charming nature and wild history. I loved every second of it and know I’ll definitely come back. Maybe this time I’ll get the chance to find the Loch Ness monster or run around the highlands. Who knows. In the meantime, as my days abroad reach their end I have one more trip to Greece to live out my Mamma Mia dream, and then finish it up with three days here in Galway. All I can say is that these past four and a half months have been some of the best in my life and I will forever be grateful for this city. As excited as I am to come home to see all the people and places I missed, I’ll tremendously miss Galway– my home away from home.