Where: Scotland (Edinburgh, Glasgow)
When: December 2010
How: Malaga to Glasgow Prestwick via Ryan Air (and therefore, required a train ride on the way in, which I understand would have been discounted with our tickets, but was in fact free because no one ever checked our car). Easy Jet out of Edinburgh on the way back.
Duration: 3 days
Accommodations: My first time couch-surfing! Adrian could not have been a better host to Brett and I. He treated us to dinner, showered us with maps and guides, and provided warm accommodations in his Dennistoun flat.
Language: English. Although sometimes the Scottish brogue was so heavy, it sounded like no English I’d ever heard.
Currency: Pound sterling, as part of the United Kingdom.
Tourist facts: While Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, Glasgow is the largest city (approx pop. 590,000). Scotland occupies the northern third of the island of Great Britain. One thing I never knew is that Scotland has 790 islands (so says Wikipedia). I always associated it with the Loch Ness monster, and of course: Sir William Wallace, our friend Mel Gibson, of Braveheart. Don’t worry, there are plenty of men wandering around Edinburgh Castle dressed up in their kilts and face paint yelling about FREEDOM, for the sake of a photo and a few bucks.
Links I recommend during trip planning: I did very little planning for this trip. Brett and I found a freak deal online (courtesy of my friends at @skyscanner). When searching for flights out of Malaga to destination “Everywhere” – we found a sweet deal for the long weekend. A few clicks later and we were bound for Scotland, and a forecast of snow.
My absolutes: Edinburgh: 1) Detour from the Royal Mile (near Holyrood) onto Calton Road and make your way up the perilous stone steps. You will be rewarded with a view of the city below, and come out at the top of gorgeous Waterloo Street. 2) Go see Greyfriar’s Cemetery, at night. Haunted! Glasgow: 1) Blackfriar’s Pub, with an empty stomach. 2) Glasgow necropolis with time to wander.
What I saw: Edinburgh castle (if it snows, your entrance ticket is discounted!). Royal Mile. Holyrood House (from the outside). Greyfriar’s Kirkyard (cemetery). Glasgow Necropolis & Cathedral. Tollbooth Tower. Willow Tea Room. People’s Palace.
What I did: People watched during Christmas market mayhem in Edinburgh. Accepted a seat at White Hart Inn on Grassmarket and talked to two Scottish teachers on holiday. Picked up some old propaganda at People’s Palace in Glasgow. Braved the elements and took many photographs at the Glasgow Necropolis.
What I ate: full-on Scottish fare at Blackfriar’s Pub in Glasgow: steak & ale pie, tatters, neeps, sweet potato & ginger soup and the infamous haggis. I am still drooling about it. Ditto the fish & chips from a local pub and chocolate covered banana and mulled wine at the Christmas market.
If (when) I return I will: Return to Blackfriar’s for the same awesome meal. Get a pint with Adrian & challenge him to a Scrabble rematch. Investigate Greyfriar’s Cemetery in the daytime. Make my way north to the Highlands, and the lochs. A woman I tutored made the drive from Seville, Spain to Scotland. To do list?
Sorry I missed: HolyRood house, although we did get to see the royal snowmen in the yard.
Thanks to: Adrian for a memorable couchsurfing experience; the little old man at the People’s Palace who sent us to Blackfriar’s; the women in Edinburgh that shared their pub table with us; and the Universe for allowing us to miss the air traffic controller’s strike in Spain by mere hours.