Since this one isn’t about airlines at all, I’m publishing it as a bonus Wednesday post.
I had been to Edinburgh exactly once before, and it was as a senior in college, twenty years earlier to the month. I looked forward to my one evening there this time, if I could keep my eyes open long enough to enjoy it.
- A Last Minute Pilgrimage to Islay, the Home of Scotland’s Peatiest Whisky
- Air Canada Business Class Via Vancouver to London
- Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and Flybe to Edinburgh
- An Evening in Edinburgh
- Edinburgh Airport and Loganair to Islay
- 50 Hours on Islay
- Transport Potpourri: A Ferry, Bus, and Train from Islay to London
- Air New Zealand Business Class from London to Los Angeles
The tram into Edinburgh from the airport isn’t fast, but it gets the job done. About 45 minutes after the journey began, I was cruising into the last stop at York Place, just a few minute walk from the Courtyard Edinburgh where I’d be spending the night.
The first thing I noticed? There were cranes absolutely everywhere. I couldn’t believe the amount of construction going on every way I looked. The second thing I noticed? There was a truly impressive number of languages I heard while walking around.
Just on the way to the hotel (which involved deftly dodging two construction sights and various drunken pub-goers) I counted three languages. That doesn’t even include Scottish, which at least in Edinburgh sounds like English. (I can’t say the same for Glasgow, however.)
I walked into the Courtyard and got my room. The front desk agent asked if I had been there before, and I mentioned that I had been twenty years prior. The response? “Well, the castle’s still there.” Indeed it was. I couldn’t help but chuckle.
I asked what she’d suggest I do for the night, and she didn’t hesitate to suggest something outside. With the hottest temps of the year nearly reaching 80 degrees, this was no day to stay inside. She told me to go to Calton Hill up behind the hotel, and then walk into the old town for a nice stroll. This sounded like a plan, and one that would keep me awake.
I was put into the “new” part of the hotel which I imagine was built in 1578. In reality, it was just newly-redone and added to the property. The room was perfectly fine, and more importantly, the water pressure was good. It woke me up and got me ready for a brief evening on the town.
Calton Hill is an old park filled with monuments that rests on top of some old volcanic land. I’m probably understating it. After all, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I got the blood pumping as I hiked up the backside, and I was rewarded with sweeping views all around Edinburgh. It was no surprise to see half the city out and about on such a beautiful evening. Again I heard a number of different languages as I hiked the perimeter.
After a brief stop at the top to admire the view, I realized I had to keep moving or I’d fall asleep. So I came down into the old town and squeezed my way through the throngs that were flooding the streets. The energy was festive as people who had probably been cooped up under gray skies for too long finally were able to get outside. Tourists couldn’t appreciate it to the same extent as someone who lives there, but that didn’t prevent everyone from being in a good mood.
I had been told to try Whiski Rooms for, well, whisky and dinner, so I strolled that way slowly. When I arrived, there just happened to be one table available, so I snagged it. It was then that I had my first whisky of the trip, a violently-peated Octomore which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I also ordered myself some haggis, and eagerly awaited its arrival. When it arrived with mashed potatoes and bashed neeps (turnips), I could hardly contain myself. I dove in and was rewarded with a very rich and delicious meal. Haggis may get a bad rap outside of Scotland, but that’s probably from people who have never eaten it.
I had started to hit the wall, so I paid the bill and walked back slowly to the hotel. By the time I arrived, I was impressed with myself for having stayed up as long as I did. I then promptly conked out and slept for a blissful 12 hours. I woke up refreshed and ready for my last flight before reaching Islay. I departed the hotel, got back on the tram, and went back to the airport.