After nearly three months in Oxford, England, I knew I was ready for a change. And– conveniently– I knew exactly where I needed to go to satiate my first bout of European wanderlust.
Enlisting the companionship of fellow liberal arts student Marissa, I headed north because after all, as the weather begins to cool and the rain starts to pour, the price of exploring northern cities significantly cheapens.
Boarding a train in London, Marissa and I began what would be a six hour ride to Edinburgh, Scotland.
We opted for the scenic route because, like typical American tourists, we were fascinated by the prospect of sheep-peeping. Similar to leaf-peeping, sheep-peeping involves peering out train windows for hours on end, photographing the hundreds of sheep that line the British countryside. Though one of my British friends had warned me to fly– stating it was both faster and cheaper– I knew I needed to have this experience once; to take in the verdant English landscape I had read about in my favorite Austen novels.
Upon arriving in Edinburgh, I informed Marissa that I had three key objectives:
- To try a vegetarian form of the famed Scottish haggis, a dish comprised of– shockingly– a sheep’s innards,
- To partake in the delights of a rich white hot chocolate from the famed store, The Chocolate Soup, and
- To charge up the hill to the Edinburgh Castle, as if I were an enemy seeking to conquer new territory. To accomplish these objectives, we would need to unload our belongings at our local bed and breakfast first.
Though I frequented hostels for most of my year abroad, Edinburgh was the one city I splurged in, opting for the Bed & Breakfast (B & B) experience, which, thanks to my mother, I can no longer live without.
Marissa, a B & B virgin, was a bit skeptical at first. I think she envisioned a Sweeney Todd sort of situation, where the seemingly harmless cook would actually be a vicious serial killer, who would poison our scrambled eggs and then use us as the secret ingredient in her next mince pies.
However, upon viewing our guest room (pictured below), Marissa’s fears were assuaged.
Having spent the previous night on a cold London dorm room floor without as much as a blanket, she was grateful to encounter a bed with six pillows, numerous blankets, and a few Cadbury chocolates thrown in for good measure.
After settling in and enjoying a much-needed good night’s sleep, Marissa and I decided to meet objective number one: Haggis.
Sitting down to a delightful breakfast spread, we eagerly waited– Marissa, for her actual haggis, and myself, for the vegetarian form of it.
When it arrived, I am sorry to say I was not that impressed. I expected it to resemble the lungs and liver of a slaughtered animal. Instead, it actually looked edible, and surprisingly, tasted quite delicious.
Though I must note that Marissa was not nearly as enthusiastic about the meat form.
Our to-do list one third complete, Marissa and I opted for a stroll towards the castle, taking the recommended scenic route along the Craigs, a breathtakingly beautiful park along the coast of the city.
Honestly, I am convinced that the BBC has used this landscape in several famous film adaptation of classic Victorian novels and novellas.
Though the British countryside, the day before, had provided quite a bit of environmental inspiration, there was something so serene, so calming, and so completely different about this second landscape.
Marissa and I were mesmerized, frozen in place for a solid fifteen minutes. I’m not going to lie: As I stood there, I daydreamed that Mr. Darcy was running towards me in the distance, and then in a moment of passion, that he took me in his arms and referred to me as “Ms. Bennett.”
Seconds later, though, I was awoken from this fantasy by the impending thunderstorm. With Marissa in hand, I rushed toward the castle, nearly a mile away, hoping to have at least one shot at reenacting the Battle of Bunker Hill, UK-style.
In a scene of a cinematic excellence, we charged up the winding hill to the castle– fighting against the wind, rain, and even small bouts of hail, until we reached the entrance.
At this point, we opted to return to a state of civilized being and pay for the admission tickets. The views, typical of Edinburgh, were magical, but the best part of this small adventure: Playing supermodels beside the canons.
After frolicking about the castle, no longer as enemy combatants, but rather as pretty little princesses, we opted it was high time for hot chocolate, the final task on our list of Edinburgh adventures.
The Chocolate Soup, which offered the promise of a warm beverage on this rather dreary day, could no longer be resisted, and so we journeyed to find it nestled on a side street off the Royal Mile, on which the castle resides.
When we arrived, our every sense was awakened. The smells, the sounds, the impending tastes were more than any semi-hormonal woman could resist.
We plunged into the sensory experience; I ordered a white hot chocolate, while Marissa ordered a dark hot chocolate and double chocolate muffin, evidence of both caloric disasters below:
Needless to say, at the end of our chocolate-filled experience, we had reached a conclusion. Diamonds are not a girl’s best friend; chocolate is!