I was lucky. The weather was on my side for once. The skies were sunny the day before, and they continued to be so that day. I had to make the most of it. It was doubtful that I was ever going to see consistent sunshine in the UK again before I left to go back to America.
So I went to Holyrood Park and climbed to the top of Arthur’s Seat. You see Edinburgh sits on what was, millions of years ago, an extremely volcanic area. Thanks to the ice age and the never-ending forces of time, all that’s left is the hill Edinburgh Castle stands on and the peak that is Arthur’s Seat and the surrounding cliffs. The task was a little daunting (the thing is over 200 meters high) and the wind became simply ferocious (nearly hurricane force), but there were well trodden paths and the views were quiet literally breathtaking. My pictures can’t possibly convey the power that these peaks hold. My legs were aching, but I couldn’t stop gasping in wonder and smiling in pleasure. Needless to say, I stayed a while in that park, lingering at the top before coming down to rest next to the medieval ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel.
Once I made it back to town, I had some thoroughly unimpressive tea at a tea house, saw the Scottish Parliament, and debated about what to do next. It was still sunny out and it seemed such a waste to go into a museum, so I walked over to Regent Gardens and Calton Hill. I saw the relatively unassuming Robert Burns Monument (which is tiny compared to Sir Walter Scott’s behemoth), the Greco-Roman National Monument, the overly decorated Nelson Monument, and the unassuming City Observatory.
After that I made my way into New Town and briefly stopped at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. A small burst of rain moved overhead while I admired both the new and old Scottish faces (including Mary Queen of Scotts and modern female farmers). Once I made my way around the modest-sized museum, I continued my wanderings around New Town.
New Town—as opposed to Old Town, which holds medieval origins—was built in the Georgian period. During this time, which saw both Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott, Edinburgh considered itself not only in Northern England but also as the “Athens of the north.” So when they decided to expand the city, it had to be orderly and rational. And it was on the Regency era streets that I walked down until it got dark.
I headed back to the hostel to recharge. I was still pretty tired from the activities of the day, so I simply went out to a pub for some mulled cider and haggis, neeps, and tatties before calling it a night.