PINCH ME! I AM IN SCOTLAND! (PART ONE)

16 January 2020

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Hey guys I know that it has been more than 2 months since I posted. But here goes my first post after a hiatus. Just a few weeks ago, I passed my qualifying exams in becoming a nurse in the United Kingdom. And I wanted to celebrate that achievement by traveling to Edinburgh. Honestly, I have never heard about this place before I left the Philippines. Do you know where Edinburgh is? Well, Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. (Scotland has always been a dream destination since I watched Reign a few years back.) It is just less than 2 hours away from Newcastle upon Tyne where I am currently based. It is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in the United Kingdom. From its grand architectural buildings in the Old Town down to a more sophisticated New Town, it is without a doubt Europe’s hidden gem that deserves the spotlight. 
Before I tour you around the cobblestoned streets of Edinburgh, let me introduce my travel companion, Carla. She is one of my closest friends in Newcastle who is also a Cebuana and she’s been to Edinburgh twice already - that should mean something, right? So, I am certainly counting on her to show me the best of what Edinburgh has to offer. So the pressure is on her. Hahaha

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Day 01 - We went to Newcastle’s Central Train Station at 10:30 AM. We booked our tickets through the train line app a week before the trip. While waiting for the train, Carla had a coffee and I had my camera set up. After 30 minutes, the train came. We stayed in a fancy coach and had it all to ourselves. Being Filipinos, we brought some snacks. Hahaha By some, I mean a lot of snacks - chocolates, rosquillos from Cebu, candies, patchi, etc. 


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The train ride was very smooth and the mountain and the sea views were splendid. They were postcard worthy. We arrived in Edinburgh at around 12:30 PM and checked in at Kick Ass hostel Greyfriars near the Grassmarket square. I was instantly captivated by the cobblestoned roads of the Old Town and its medieval buildings. After we checked in, we were all set to explore this beautiful city in Scotland. Although it was a sunny day, the wind literally swept us away. 



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We walked through Victoria’s Street going to the Old Town before having lunch in Byron. Actually, Byron was not in our list of restaurants to visit. But the signage “PROPER” burgers, caught our attention. It made us curious what proper burger should look and taste like. We’re not food critics but the burgers were definitely good and the chips were seasoned to perfection. Up to this day, I am still not sure why they had to call their burgers proper or maybe it’s just how Scots describe their food. :)

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After lunch, we went to one of UK’s most historic sites, the Edinburgh Castle. This 11th-century building features breathtaking views of Scotland’s capital city. Admission is not free when you go inside the castle. It is at £16.50. But if you just want to look around outside the castle, you can still get amazing views of Edinburgh especially at sunset.


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Then, we went to one of the city’s most visited destinations, Calton Hill.There lies large pillars on top of a hill with magnificent views of the city and the sea. We waited until dark to see the buildings light up at night. It was magical. At that moment, I pinched myself just to check if I was dreaming. No, it was not a dream anymore. It was a “one-day-I-will-visit-Scotland” dream come true. 


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Before suffering hypothermia, we took a hike down the hill and walked downtown until we reached the Wall Coffee in Cockburn Street. It was getting really cold and we just wanted to drink some hot coffee and tea and chill for a while before dinner. This coffee place was everything I imagined a cafe in Scotland would look like. It was homey and congenial. And we found the perfect spot to enjoy our coffee and tea by the windows. 


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After a good 2 hours of caffeine and tea break, we explored the shops at the Royal Mile. There were a good selection of cafes, souvenir shops and restos. There were also different groups of people  listening attentively to tour guides in costumes in the Old Town. Yes, most guides wore costumes. I thought it was halloween all over again. Hahaha But the costumes were for the tour. Edinburgh has so much history and some of these stories are very dark and violent. So don’t be surprised to see people in vampire costumes at night. Hehehe The tours are free but of course you still have to give them something like a donation.

Then later that night we had dinner in Wings. We did not realize that a reservation was required to get a seat as they were mostly jam-packed by chicken lovers every night. Fortunately, there was space for Carla and I. We ordered three different flavors of Chicken Wings and some drinks. They were really good. The flavor selections were probably more than 50. But we ordered everything that had French on the menu. I don’t know why but that’s what we ordered that night. Hahaha After a very satisfying chicken wings escapade, we went back to the hostel and called it a night. 

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I am sorry guys but I have to break this post into two. So, please stay tuned for Day 02 and Day 03! :)
I will also include the budget of this trip in the succeeding post. I just want to make sure I have the right details. :) Thank you!



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