Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Scotland Adventure: Arriving in Edinburgh

Summer in Abu Dhabi is brutal. Hot, sticky, dusty and miserable. Top it off with Ramadan where most places to eat or drink are closed until after sundown and it's even worse. So, every year, we plan 1-2 weeks somewhere else - preferably somewhere a lot cooler than our sandbox. This year we decided on a week in Scotland with the hopes of brisk cool air, amazing scenery and a wee bit of whisky. We weren't disappointed.
Our journey started with a nice sleep in business class and arrival in Edinburgh about 7:30am, Scotland time. We hit the first Starbucks in the airport and then found the tram system to take us to the downtown area where we had rented an apartment from Airbnb (great site for accommodation by the way). The tram system is super easy to use, clean, comfortable and gives you a nice view of the Scottish scenery.

We arrived at St. Andrew's square and walked around ... and around ... and around trying to find our apartment. We must have looked completely lost as we had 3 different locals offer help (and it took all 3 of them to find the place!). At first, because of our recent experiences in Morocco, we were hesitant, but the Scots are a friendly lot and with the help of one gentleman's google maps, we finally found our apartment.

We were greeted by a light rain and cool temps and were in heaven. I think it was the first time in months I wasn't sweating! We settled in and freshened up and then headed out to explore the Royal Mile.

The Royal Mile is probably the most touristy area of Edinburgh as it connects the Holyrood House (residence of the Royal family) to the Edinburgh Castle (must see in Edinburgh). The street itself is pedestrian only in parts and lined with shops of all kinds - plaids, cashmere, whisky, fudge and tablet (sweets), pubs, coffee shops . . . a colorful and interesting place to explore and people watch. Here are a few of the views from our very enjoyable rainy day.

The photo below is of a pedestrian walkway between buildings called a close. They allow a nice shortcut to get from street to street and are often steep stairs or hills. They are all named, so you might get directions like, 'the restaurant is right next to Billard's Close". Interesting.

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