Monday, February 18, 2013


I arrived in Edinburgh (Ed-in-bur-ah) last Monday evening and my short time there was wonderful.  My heritage is very highly Scottish and being in the capital city of the nation of my family really was an experience of a lifetime.

Here’s the lowdown of my time in the land of plaid, whisky, and bagpipes.

Tuesday: My first full day in Edinburgh.  The previous night I had checked into my 6 bed mixed (aka unisex) dorm at Smart City Hostel and had just stayed in for dinner and an early bedtime.  I woke up and headed up the Royal Mile, the historical main street of the city.  The goal of the day was to cover the western half of Edinburgh which consisted of the following:
  • Storming the Castle (yep, Princess Bride reference).  The Castle is beautiful and huge, and it can be seen from all over the city.  I paid my 14 or so pounds (pay it, totally worth the expense) and went on a self-tour which took about an hour and a half and there was plenty to see.  It mostly has military displays, since the main purpose of the castle was defense, but there are also some more extravagant displays like the crown jewels, royal apartments, and great hall.  Military wise, there are prisons, honorary museums, memorials, a dog cemetery and more.  Other spots are the chapel and the several gift shops, including the whisky shop.  I picked up a quick breakfast of tea and a scone at the Castle’s Redcoat Café.
  • Walked around Grassmarket, a little square of bars, restaurants and coffeehouses.
  • Headed up Victoria Street to one of the inner city bridges (there are three main ones).  Stopped by The Elephant House (the café where J.K Rowling started the Harry Potter on a napkin).  With Platform 9 ¾ and The Elephant House, I got to see two HP sites this trip.
  • Then I went to the largest museum in Edinburgh (aside from everything at the castle if you add all those exhibitions into one big sum of history), the National Museum of Scotland.  Half the museum is dedicated to the transformation of Scotland as a nation, with each floor representing a different time period.  The ground floor starts with the early peoples in the BC years and the top (6th) floor brings Scotland to the last century or so of its history along with where the nation stands now and what its future may or may not look like. The other half of the museum is like a handful of museums made into one to cover all the bases: art, science, culture, the animal kingdom, and other exhibits make up this more holistic half.  I stuck mostly to the Scottish half, but the entirety of the National Museum of Scotland is definitely a worthwhile way to spend a few hours, and it’s free!
  • New Town, the northwestern part of Edinburgh, which as its name suggests is the more contemporary area of the city.  Princes, Rose, and George are the three streets over there which hold more modern shopping and hustle and bustle.  Wandered around and grabbed lunch on the go to head towards my next stop.
  • Across from the stores on Princes Street, which is the main strip of New Town, is the National Gallery which holds a small but mighty collection of artwork with its basement boasts only creations done by Scottish artists.  This is another wallet friendly visit to hit up in Edinburgh for the price of free.
  • After the gallery, I headed back to Smart City for a little bit and then ate dinner at No. 1 High Street, a pub on the Royal Mile.
Wednesday: Second and last full day in the Scottish capital.  This time the eastern part of the city was my focus.
  • Woke up to snow falling but wasn’t too concerned, Norway has never been without snow during my time in Oslo.  Headed east to take the hike to Arthur’s Seat, one of the best ways to see Edinburgh as the city’s volcano.
  • Going up Arthur’s Seat was scenic and manageable; the trail is pretty flat until you get right to the peak.  By the time I got to the top (a hike of about 40 minutes), Arthur’s Seat was straight up scary because of the weather.  The snow had started to come down hard and the wind was howling and whipping so fast; I was worried I was going to fall off!  And due to the snow and wind, there was no view to see as well.  Slowly and steadily I made my way down but slipped more times than I have in a month in Norway.  I was sore and cold and ready to move onto a safer, indoor part of my day.  In short, Arthur’s Seat is a must in Edinburgh and I’m glad I did it, but CAUTION and best wishes to you if you choose to go in the weather I went in.
  • After reaching street level, thank God, I went to the Palace at Holyroodhouse aka Her Majesty’s abode while in Scotland which was so elegant.
  • Following the best audio tour of my life, I went to the Queen’s Gallery which had “60 Photographs for 60 Years” to honor the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
  • Unfortunately I couldn’t go inside the Scottish Parliament because it was closed for recess I guess, so that was a bummer.  Oh well, the walked up the Royal Mile to have a quick visit into the Museum of Edinburgh (another freebie, pretty quaint), had a great sit down lunch of great salmon at The Outsiders (a few doors down from The Elephant House) and then did all my souvenir shopping.   
  • To conclude my day, I had bangers and mash and a Rob Roy at Whiski right up the street from my hostel.
Thursday:  I took the Air Link bus to Edinburgh Airport and flew back to Oslo on a noon flight with Norwegian.  This was one of the emptiest planes I’ve ever been on; I guess Edinburgh to Oslo isn’t a popular route.  When booking, this was the only direct flight within three days so head’s up if anyone is hoping to go between these two cities in the future.  Anyways, got to Oslo around 3pm Norway time (it’s an hour ahead of the UK, so a two hour flight) and made my way back home to Sogn student village.  Relaxed the rest of the night away.

*The UK was a great decision to see for my break, I definitely see myself going there again sometime.  Hostel wise, my experiences in London and Edinburgh were good in different ways.  In London, at Equity Point, I was in an eight bed all female room.  It was near the Paddington Station, had breakfast included, and was very pleasant.  All the girls were nice and easy to share the space with, and I slept well every night.  In Edinburgh, at Smart City Hostel which is just two blocks off the Royal Mile and has a hip bar/restaurant with great prices, and I was in in a six bed mixed room that was a true mix, 3 girls 3 guys.  The bathroom was much bigger than the one at EQ and the room was cheaper for less people.  Both Edinburgh and London are on the pound, with the same coins but print their own cash (English vs. Scottish), but currency is worth the same.  Edinburgh was slightly less expensive than London overall, not just the hostel.   One last thing about pounds: You can use either bills in Scotland no problem, but I read that you’ll get a weird look to say the least if you use Scottish pounds in England.

Friday:  I went into Queer Youth today to make sure I had a shift this week.  I usually go in on Wednesdays but being out of town made for that to be obviously not possible.  Anyways, my main task of the day was putting this together:  It’s a quick little compilation of QY’s summer camp powered by Windows Movie Maker.  Man, I miss producing.  One of the main things I miss about home/being on campus is USFtv, excited to return in the fall.  After a good shift of video making, I had dinner with my friend Many and then a shift at Uglebo.  This was my third night bartending and the fun is constant with compensation at the end in pints of beer; it’s a sweet gig and one of my favorite things I’ve picked up doing in Oslo.  

Saturday: With a week of plan packed traveling and yesterday with double work, I took an easy Saturday.  That meant grocery shopping, laundry, and watching online television.

Sunday: This was another low key day, but I didn’t even leave my flat, ha.  I worked on my ISP midterm report which was due today (Monday) and picked up watching more TV.  I did do a little socializing, leaving my computer to have dinner with my roomie Rebecca and her friend Linda.  Feta and veggie flat bread, a glass of wine, followed by a beer, and good conversation all made for a good evening.

Now onto a full week back in Oslo!

This is the strip in the city that starts at the Castle and ends at the Palace. Name makes sense huh?

In front of the Castle of my ancestors, got a little teary eyed

The entrance of the Castle: “No one attacks me with impunity”

Need a kilt or scarf?

My childhood thanks you Elephant House

All smiles on the way up, different story back down

The top of Arthur’s Seat

Courtyard at the Palace

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