Castle, Edinburgh, edinburgh castle, edinburgh scotland, Holyrood Palace, love, memoir, Scotland, solo traveler, travel, university of dundee, vacation
A Scotland Rendezous, Chapter 2
“Start at Edinburgh Castle,” he said, “and then you can walk down this road, called The Royal Mile, to Holyrood Palace.”
I learned that during my first full day in Scotland, Steve, the stranger I flew across the ocean to see, was going to have to attend an all-day lecture at the University of Dundee. But he had already decided that a day trip to Edinburgh by train was a swell solution for me so he drew a little map, outlining the route I should take. I didn’t mind, really. I kind of like being a solo traveler. Besides, it gave me some time to think–think about this man I had just met. Think about this country I just landed in. Think about how this was all going to end after five days.
Oh, and the train ride gave me time to text each of my girlfriends, “Everything going SUPER! Will give details when I get home.”
As I disembarked the train it took me awhile to orient myself. For April it was lovely–sunny and warm and not at all what I expected for Scotland. (I expected gloomy weather. That much I did know about Scotland.) There was the token bagpiper on the corner for tourists and every building looked as though it was ancient. Probably because they all were. I almost feel a little ashamed sometimes that I come from a country that is really in its infancy compared to other areas of the world where everything is all about being shiny and new.
I couldn’t miss the Edinburgh Castle if I had tried. It looks over the city from Castle Rock letting me know that it’s still in charge. I took my time touring the castle, and took advantage of the headphones so I could learn more about not just the castle but about Scotland, since I came so unprepared.
Calling it a Castle is really a misnomer–it’s actually a fortress and includes several buildings. When I arrived at St. Margaret’s Chapel–a simple building within the walls of the fortress I actually sat on one of the benches for quite a long time. The chapel is still used for ceremonies, such as weddings, and is the one building that felt like there was life still in it. Of course, should any building feel that way, a church would, I suppose. Sitting there I tried to make sense of where I was and how I got there. If any place was going to help me figure everything out a church certainly would. After about 20 minutes and not getting any closer to making sense of it all, I thought, Just go with it. Don’t worry about it.
And that’s what I did.
After a nice lunch at a cafe I then made my way down the cobblestone Royal Mile, descending the hill and stopping in the little shops that carried tartan wellies, tartan skirts and tartan shawls.
It wasn’t just all tartan. There was orange marmalade and shortbread cookies of course, so I bought a cookie and munched on it as I made my way to Holyrood. Clearly the street is designed for tourists and, well, I was a tourist that day. And I like shortbread cookies.
Holyrood Palace or HolyroodHouse
A little less hectic than the Ediburgh Castle. Fewer tourists and I was half expecting the Queen to make an appearance at any time. The palace buildings are a mish-mash of well-maintained buildings ranging from ancient to really ancient.
After the tour I looked at my watch and realized that I needed to catch the train back to Dundee. These are the moments when I’m traveling alone where I have to admit I’m rather proud of myself that I can navigate my way around, in spite of the fact that I usually don’t get it right the first time. This was one of those times. I found myself on the wrong platform and nearly ended up on my way to London. Thank goodness I wasn’t in a rush. Before I crossed over the “Mind the Gap” warning, I made sure I was on the right train back to Dundee where my new long-distance romance was waiting for me.