As I stepped off the platform at Edinburgh Waverley, Drake’s voice in my ears singing, “trips to wherever feels right, doin’ it all just to feel things”, crowds of busy feet scrambled towards the exit sign- all excited and tender-footed as I felt arriving in a new country that was my ‘places to visit’ list. I clicked my phone to the scanner and was greeted by a thick, chirpy Scottish accent, “welcome to Scotland!” At that moment I thought, this is what I need, a change of scene.
From there I hobbled up the steps with my weekender in tow, sucking in a breath and taking in the culture that left me standing right in the capital of independence and strength, two things I needed to remind myself that I already had.
It was only a short ride to my apartment which was an absolute steal online, I couldn’t believe how cool it was! I reserved the split-level apartment in an old Grammar school. Think windows that seemed to go on up forever and a modern bedroom overlooking a lounge decked out in IKEA furniture and a tartan rug. My only complaint was that there was no air-con, and my weakling arms couldn’t muster the strength to lift the windows high enough to gain a cool breeze that was needed in this heat wave!
After a quick change, I was off to the royal mile in search of The Writer’s Room, a free museum that housed some of Scottland’s greatest writers.
The museum is such a beautiful historic building that featured the life and works of a different writer in each room, one of my favourites was Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to name a few. Stevenson was most notably inspired by his travels which highlighted the importance for me to keep traveling at least once a year and visiting a new country or place. I think for writers its incredibly important to keep your soul alive so that you may inspire others to do something incredible with theirs. Whether that’s inspiring them to book a ticket somewhere themselves or apply for something they never had the confidence to be before, the important thing is that life is enjoyed and to use the words from the man himself, “to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive”.
That evening I visited the quaint little pub down a Harry Potter inspired alley called The Devil’s Advocate to which once inside, promptly ordered a large glass of rose wine and sat mulling over their menus. I have to say though, I’ve been traveling to quite a few places and even Bali last year people felt sorry for me sitting alone at dinner. I really don’t understand why I need a chaperone to eat in public. Yes, I could have ordered a takeout and sat at my apartment and been alone there but I felt sitting in a room with other people and eating was a better plan but the young waiter didn’t agree with me. He escorted me up the oak stairs and sat me on a table with one place setting and a lit candle fixed into a probably rescued marooned glass bottle and asked me the question all singletons dread, “oh, is it just you?”
“Yes.” I replied licking my lips and suddenly very aware that it was just me.
“Aww” he said, squeezing my shoulder.
For the life of me I was so angry that he did that, I was perfectly happy to sample some traditional food and have a glass to myself but I had to put the menu down and chug my wine down and ask for the bill. So embarrassing.
I quickly exited the building, hopping up the stairs and turning onto the street, now in search of better company. It wasn’t long until I stumbled upon Byron, a restaurant I’d encountered in Canterbury but never ventured in because it always looked too busy for the contents of our university flat unless we’d pre-booked and I didn’t think they did that at the time.
So, I climbed the stairs and opened the industrial door to meet a young girl who was clutching a menu, who looked like she was waiting for just little old me.
“Hello, shall we get you seated, Miss?” she said, ushering me over to a table.
“Yes please!” I said, falling into the leather-back seats.
I explained the situation to the girl who poured me a glass of water and we laughed about it while she took my order. I enjoyed a ‘beetfink burger’, one of their vegan specialty burgers, made from beetroot, falafel, smashed avocado and seasoned salad in a brioche bun and sweet potato fries on the side. It was SO GOOD and I would highly recommend it to any Vegans or anyone wanting to try something new.
The following day I was boarding a pre-booked tour with Timberbush Tours exploring the West Highlands Lochs, Mountains, and Castles, which I’ve told my parents they must try when they visit as the driver was brilliant and so knowledgeable. The locations were amazing, I got to visit Doune Castle (where Outlander was filmed), Inveraray and its stunning castle (where Downton Abbey was filmed), Loch Awe, Fyne and Lomond.
By the time 7pm came around I was starving, and although our stop off at a lakeside cafe was very filling, the cullen skink soup had worn off and I needed more food ha! So, I stopped off at a tavern called Byson which had the best salmon couscous salad. I also met someone else who was traveling alone so we decided to sit together and chat. Then she kindly invited me to join her and her friends for the pub quiz. Unfortunately, I didn’t stay to find out if we won as my eyes were trying to shut every few minutes so I knew it was bedtime but to Sarah and her friends, it was lovely to meet you!
It was a short 20-minute walk back to the apartment, with the thought of a cup of tea on my mind, I hastened my step and looked up at the old grammar school which had been my home for the past few days with an enormous smile across my face.
The kettle was on searched as I searched on Amazon for a good movie and finally found it in The Mummy Returns (no judging! ha!). I finally fell asleep around 11pm and awoke sluggishly around 7am for my early train home.
The thought of traveling nearly 5 hours on a train was previously a nervous glimmer in my mind but has since been quashed by the lucky chance of meeting a couple of delightful and interesting people on the train and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met…the Scottish. I couldn’t tell you why these people were so friendly, helpful or polite but they’ve taught me that life is for the living, the brave and the inquisitive. They’ve also shown me that feeling good is a state of mind and that happiness is free, if only we were bold enough to relish in it.