Scotland, Day 3: Edinburgh

We start off Day 3 with granola & yoghurt and a run along the Forth and Clyde Canal with Billy and Charlie-the-dog.

And by “with Billy” I mean that, sometimes, we can see Billy way off in the distance. He is training for a half-marathon and fast in the way that only a young person can be. Charlie sometimes runs back to check on us or pee on things.

After that, it’s a short drive to the station in Lenzie where we catch an early train to Edinburgh. The train is delightful. Most seats are arranged in fours around a small table and the ride is smooth. There’s even a drink and snack trolley that comes through.

We sit and make pleasant conversation and enjoy the scenery for the 35(ish) minutes it takes to get into Edinburgh. The train comes out of a tunnel and then between steep cliffs where you can just see Edinburgh Castle.

The train station is a beautiful affair covered by a metal frame and glass roof. It takes me a minute to realize that we’re actually inside.

From there, we walk over to the old part of the city and the Royal Mile.

Our first stop is St Giles Cathedral. It’s peaceful, quiet and uncrowded inside. I am not a religious person but I always enjoy a good cathedral.

We walk along the Royal Mile, popping into shops and taking pictures, until we reach the castle. The site of the British flag flying so high over a Scottish castle makes me a bit sad.

We decide not to take the several-hours-long tour of the castle-proper. Seeing the outside and then the view of the city is enough. Edinburgh is built in the remnants of a giant volcanic crater. The site of the ancient buildings rising up with the prehistoric caldera in the background takes my breath away.

Next is lunch at a nice little pub in the Grassmarket area, over the street from Kick Ass Hostels. I dig into my fish and chips and watch the steady stream of backpackers coming in and out.

It’s raining when we leave the pub so we don’t linger long at the grave of Greyfriars Bobby before heading over to the Scottish National Gallery to get out of the damp. The Gallery is amazing. Reminiscent of the Field Museum in Chicago, you could easily spend several days exploring it.

The rain has stopped as we head back down the Royal Mile to the train station. We’re in a bit of rush since our tickets aren’t good for peak hours. If we don’t make the right train, we’ll be stuck for a couple of hours until peak is over.

We do manage to hit a few more shops. Jane buys a bunch of scarves as gifts and I buy a (very) cheap kilt. We manage to stop in a Royal Bank of Scotland to change money, albeit with some difficulty. It requires talking to at least three different people and Helena’s bank account to manage it. That and I get yelled at for taking a picture of Jane in front of one of the exit signs.

We just make the train and settle in for a quiet ride back. The time change is starting to catch up with me again.

We get back to Lenzie and hop in the car for the short drive over to Helena’s sister Anne’s house in Airdrie for dinner.

Dinner is a delicious beef-pie-thing with lasagna and roasted vegetables with pie and cake for dessert. At no point during the day, have we been in any danger of starving.

We’re back to Helena and Billy’s house, full and exhausted, by 8:30pm or 9pm.

I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.