Last semester it seemed that every weekend I was jetting off to a new place and a new adventure, but so far this semester it hasn’t been the case. I have become a hermit due to:
After my trip to Paris I began to feel the pressure of the fast approaching midterms, so I decided to save my money and instead focus on academics. Luckily for me my friends who I visited in France decided to come to Edinburgh and visit me (so that I finally emerged from my flat).
Last semester there were no breaks once the term began in September. But seemingly out of nowhere the entire university got a week off of school, and the business school got another week off on top of that. This allowed me to dedicate my time and be a competent tour guide.
They had been to London and Alnwick Castle and Edinburgh was their next stop on their winter break trip. I met them at Waverly Station and took them to their hostel. I then started my tour with new town. Starting with the Balmoral (as they are Harry Potter fanatics like me) we walked down Princes Street where I went over a bit of history; such as Princes Street Park once being a loch that waste was dumped in giving the town the nickname Ole’ Stinky. We took pictures of the Sir Walter Scott memorial, the author of the Waverley novels, went inside the affordable and trendy Primark, and exchanged money. We moved around the castle, going past the castle terrace, and down to Grass Market. They learned the amazing (and unbelievable) story of Maggie Dicksons and got some gelato from my favorite ice cream shop, Mary’s Milk Bar. We went into Greyfriar’s Kirkyard to pay our respects to the man (Thomas Riddle) who inspired the name of the darkest wizard of all time, he who shall not be named (Tom Riddle). We then made a circle and went through my university and old college, stopped by my flat, and headed to dinner at the Elephant House, the birth place of Harry Potter. We finished off the night at the Three Sisters pub where we watched the Bayern Munich game and participated in the famous Wednesday pub quiz. Some categories we were almost flawless in such as the Disney Princess category and the observation category, while some were left completely blank like the Train Spotting category (a Scottish film). We were utterly defeated.
The next day we started bright and early to hike St. Arthur’s. We faced many hurdles like the icy and slippery ground but despite nature’s effort we made it up in great time. The top of St. Arthur’s is one of the best views of the city and my favorite. You can see everything (even my flat). The other great view of the city is Calton Hill, where Edinburgh gains the self-named nickname, Athens of the North.
We then had lunch at Spoon and marched our way up the rest of the Royal Mile to go inside Edinburgh Castle. This was actually a first for me. After being here a semester I had never once stepped past the castle gates, mainly because I am too much of a penny pincher for not wanting to put up the $GB 16.
The castle is the beautiful centerpiece of Edinburgh. At one o’clock you can hear deafening sound of the cannon go off, so be warned and plug your ears. You can see the prison cells, the banquet hall, and a few rooms. There is also a shop where you can buy whiskey and have a “free” whiskey tasting. We sped through the castle so that we could make the long walk to Duddingston with another group of friends in Edinburgh that weekend. [One of the girl’s surname was Duddingston to explain the long trek (about 40 minutes)]. We ate at the Sheep Heid Inn and participated in another pub quiz.
It was a week night and only locals (most of them regulars) filled the pub. The pub quiz was almost entirely made up of Scottish culture, which we knew almost nothing about, despite me having been living here for one full term already. I am proud to say that I knew that Dr. Watson’s first name is John and the logo of the Rangers football team, but that was about all I could answer. We were big failures when it came to results, but when it came to having a blast no one in that pub could beat us. That ended our night and I walked them back to their hostel, and made my goodbyes. They were leaving at six the next morning.
Although short I had a lot of fun reuniting with my friends in Edinburgh. Being able to be a tour guide made me proud of my city and let me show off my love for it and spread it to others. It was like I was stepping into Edinburgh for the first time and my eyes once again saw how truly beautiful and amazing Edinburgh is. It also let me show of my knowledge a little which never hurt the ego.
Helpful Hint: When you are being a tour guide plan ahead and be prepared, because they will ask for recommendations and advise, you are the expert guiding them through the city they know nothing about.