After spending our evening in Dublin out and about, enjoying the area and local nightlife, Nate and I spent the morning getting caught up and preparing for our flight to Scotland. We printed our boarding passes and figured out where to catch the city bus back out to the Dublin Airport – a 45 minute bus ride – before passing through security and hoofing it down to the RyanAir terminal.
We spent an hour or so waiting in the sparsely furnished terminal and then lined up for the boarding free for all. It really is more bus than airline. With first come first served seating, you hop on and hope you get a viable seat. Nate and I made the trip through the gate, then down onto the tarmac where we walked to the plane before boarding, and found two decent seats next to each other. Not bad for the lightning quick, 45 minute hop over to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Once in Scotland, we re-traced the steps we’d both taken on previous trips, bought bus tickets to the city center, and quickly made our way into town. Unfortunately, most of our preferred hostels were booked, which forced us to book into the Caledonia Hostel. With a fun ambiance and interesting atmosphere it offered a good location, and more importantly a respite from the rain.
In a twist of bad luck, our only roommate was an old Australian who looked straight out of Boondock Saints, slow moving, odd smelling, with a giant chain supporting a silver dollar sized crucifix. We learned he was a former Justice of the Peace/Prison Director. Despite being a bit odd he was friendly enough.
We tossed our bags down and set off to catch a bite to eat. On a tip from the front desk, we found a nice looking pub which was running a great 2 for 5 pound special. Refreshed after a hearty burger and “chips” we set out to explore the city – time was ticking and it was already dark.
An ancient city, Edinburgh is spectacular in the light of day, but its’ dark alleyways, beautifully lit stonework and ghostly cathedrals is equally amazing at night.
The sights ranged from spectacular and beautiful in a Gothic sort of way, to more comical, like the statue of Hume that someone had – somehow – climbed up and crowned with a traffic cone.
From the statue of Hume we walked towards the castle, which was obscured by a set of large festival scaffolding. One of the really interesting things about Edinburgh, is that it’s a festival city. They’ve invested in stadium like seating which is regularly erected during the summer in the car/bus park that sits directly in the only approach (via the Royal Mile) to the castle. The downside of this is that it also tends to obscure any type of close up/non modern photos of the castle, unless they’re shot from below – looking up.
I’ve mentioned the amazing way in which streets dive off of the Royal Mile careening down the hillside via a warren of small alleyways, tiny, steep steps and small cloisters. At night these small paths come to life with mystery and intrigue. It’s easy to see how the city has served as a muse for so many writers and poets over the years.
Our walk took us up along Princes Street, then across what was once an old Loch to the Royal Mile where we worked our way up to the ancient castle. We wound down the back side and around through back streets before coming full circle and arriving back at our hostel.
Exhausted, we settled in for a quick drink, bit of socializing and then turned in for the evening.