My First Week in Edinburgh

I was reminded yesterday that when you’re in a new country, everything is interesting. Based on my experiences so far, I don’t know about that.  For me, I have mainly spent the first week in Edinburgh adjusting to the crazy amounts of daylight (4:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.) and the daily wind and rain.  (I’m so happy I brought a lined raincoat, and I Amazoned a new umbrella since I forgot to bring one.)  I have spent a good amount of time locked up in my flat, preparing for my class, but I’ve also taken some long walks, trying to get the lay of the land.  And I have drunk a metric butt ton of Scottish Breakfast Tea.  Which is like English Breakfast Tea, only it uses a really complicated dialect. 😊

Friday, I did a cursory visit to the National Museum of Scotland, which is a fantastic natural history museum with a huge atrium and tons of natural light.  I will go back and do a “deeper dive” in the exhibits, but I mainly looked at the science/technology hall, the hall of design, and the world cultures hall.  I visited the museum with the coordinator of the Scotland Study Abroad program, and we didn’t have a lot of time there because he also wanted to go to Clarinda’s Tea Room, on the Royal Mile, which was fussy and frilly (in the best way) and full of tea-related décor.  I had a scone with butter and preserves.  I was expecting more of a biscuit, but this scone was sweeter than that, but very crumbly.  Afterwards, we walked back past some bagpipers and drummers and Richard went his way, and I went mine…right into a freak storm.  Imagine a day where it’s bright and windy and gorgeous.  And then come the clouds like a galloping herd of gazelles.  That storm soaked me to the core, and of course I wasn’t wearing my raincoat.

In the rain, a man with a large backpack bumped into me (don’t worry, he wasn’t a pickpocket), and then as I passed the Museum again, he put his hand out for me to shake it and asked who I was.  I was so shocked, I told him.  He said his name was Sam and he was looking for a Tesco (a grocery store).  There was one right around the corner, and I thought he was going to go toward it but he went the opposite way.  It was a little strange.

Saturday, I tried doing laundry and found the washer to be beyond my intellect level.  Then I went for a walk in Holyrood Park.  There’s an entrance close bywhere I’m staying, so I walked over to it, and it turned out the entrance was a steep set of stairs down to the street (Queen’s Drive), and about 10 steps down it, I said to myself, “Self, if you go down these stairs you’ll have to come back up,” and while I was debating this shaggy sheep dog came out of nowhere.  He looked pretty good so I wasn’t worried he was lost, and then as if from mist, his owner appeared.

“Rolo,” he said, “quit botherin’ th’ lass.”

“Oh, he’s not bothering me,” I said, putting my hand out to pet Rolo.

“In tha’ case, quit botherin’ me dog.”

With that, the man and Rolo passed me going down the stairs, and after being flummoxed for a little bit at the surprising turn of events, I followed at a discreet distance.  I walked up the hill a ways (not the big hill, the one that puts you on top of Arthur’s Seat), and then down a grassy knoll.  I tried taking some selfies, but it was so windy my face was all scrunched up and my hair had its own postal code.  I sat on a convenient rock until I was ready to face the 400 steps back up to the park entrance.  I’ll have you know I died about 6 times on the hike back up the stairs.

Yesterday, I spent the day reading for class, but all day I wanted to go to church.  I just couldn’t get motivated for the 9:30 Mass.  Fortunately, St. Columba’s church had a service at 6:30, so I walked south till I got there.  It was definitely a no-frills service… no music and a homily that contrasted our relationship with God and the Trinity to this kid at his grammar school selling stick insects (don’t ask). It was a tenuous connection at best.  I was glad I went—it let me see a different part of town.  Next week I think I’ll try St. Patrick’s.

So, that kind of catches you up on my visit so far.  Not overly exciting, but I’ll have more exciting plans in my future I’m sure.

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