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April 28, Edinburgh

My second day was a Friday and I had decided that I wanted to walk to Calton Hill to make sure I knew how to get there before the big Beltane festival. I had looked up the directions and I headed to the right from the flat, thinking it was the right way. In short, I was wrong. That morning was a little rough– I was wearing too many layers because it was actually warm, my backpack was needlessly heavy, and it was trash day so the streets smelled like garbage. I walked past the public library and thought of stopping but I was sweaty and developing a headache, with no water to speak of, so I turned down a neighborhood path instead, hoping to escape the smell. It worked and I got to see some beautiful gardens along the path. Eventually I decided to check my GPS– the wifi didn’t work, but it did show where I was. I saw that I had gone the wrong way and that I’d been making a giant circle back toward the flat, so I decided to go back for a while. I went up the four flights of stairs and peeled off my layers and laid on the bed.

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It took a while for me to feel cool again and for my headache to go away, so several hours later I ventured out again–this time in the right direction. I still managed to get lost since I wasn’t using GPS as I walked; I’d rather look at the architecture and people than have my nose in my phone, unless I can’t afford to get lost. I walked by the Royal Mile and discovered the art gallery where I only got to see half of the downstairs exhibit before they closed.

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After that I used the GPS to follow the path to Calton Hill. Even when I reached it I turned the wrong way down a street with a sign that said “Calton Hill.” I went up some stairs, thinking that was the way up, but it just led to some homes so I turned around and continued. The entrance was only another 200 feet ahead and the climb was steep. I was tired–the walk was supposed to be 44 minutes, but I’d been walking much longer than that since I detoured so many times. Upon reaching the top I took some photos and went to sit near a viewing point where I wrote in my journal until my hands were too numb from the wind and I put it away to take some photos.

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I was wandering the city when I stumbled upon the Elephant Cafe, where I’d been told to visit because J.K. Rowling used to write there. It was way too crowded so I moved on and I found the graveyard behind Greyfriar’s. Not only did it inspire J.K. Rowling, but I’d heard that there was a statue of a dog over a grave in there because after the dog’s owner had died and been buried his dog had laid on his grave every day for over another ten years. I searched the entire graveyard for the statue of a dog but I never found it and later I learned that the statue of the dog was actually on a fountain outside of the graveyard. There’s a long story about the dog and his owner posted on the wall outside of Greyfriar’s Pub. It was touching and I really enjoyed the story.
It was freezing and I decided to return to the flat. I was starting to get an idea of the layout, at least Princes Street and the Meadows and I could find my way home without an issue. I loved watching all the people out playing fetch with their dogs; in fact, I think I enjoyed dog watching more than people watching. I stopped to pet a friendly cat along the trail but it was distracted by a bird and ran off, so I moved on.

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I saw a red cafe with the name Victor Hugo. I was really excited and I stored it in my memory so I could visit again, but later I learned that it wasn’t actually named for the author, but that the two men who founded it were named Victor and Hugo. I lost interest and never made it there to take pictures.
I had read about a live Celtic music performance happening that night. I mapped the theater hall from Starbucks by the Meadows where I could get free wifi and I found my way there, where I paced a few times and debated whether or not I should spend 11 pounds to go listen to a musical group I wasn’t familiar with or that interested in. Eventually I decided that I’d rather wait because going alone might just make me feel lonely in the big city.

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As I was walking someone came up to me from behind and asked me about how I kept my hair so long. She was friendly and asked if I had any secrets. My initial response was that I didn’t have any and I think she was going to continue walking (I was slower than almost all the locals), but then I remembered that I do have a few rituals so I told her that I always end my showers with cold water on my hair because it can keep it from breaking when you brush it right afterwards. She complimented my rose quartz necklace and we were amicably walking next to each other. She had started to pull out headphones and then she turned to me and told me that she was planning to listen to music but that since we were walking at the same pace it would be more fun to talk. She told me that she was from France and had been living there since September. When she told me she was French, I said “Tres bien!” and she was impressed by my pronunciation so I told her that I learned a lot from Notre Dame de Paris and that I loved Victor Hugo. She was the one who told me about the cafe and how she learned it wasn’t actually named after the author– we were both disappointed by that revelation. We were getting on really well so we decided to go have a drink together at Montpelier’s, the bar that was across from my flat. Over drinks we learned that we had a lot in common, even that we both wanted to be mermaids. ^_^ It was a meeting of kindred spirits. She was running late for an engagement that she’d been walking to when we met, so we exchanged contact information and I learned that her name was Laura. We agreed to meet again and I went back to my flat, feeling drunk on life, though only tipsy from the hard cider I’d ordered.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way to the flat, since it was next door to the bar, and when I got upstairs I found two of my flatmates hosting what looked like a fancy dinner party. I was introduced and I said hello to the three visitors from South Africa, where the two flatmates were from, but I excused myself to my room where I ate my sandwich and whatever else it was that I had bought. It felt a little like what Harry must have felt like in Chamber of Secrets when he was supposed to be in his room, making no noise and pretending not to exist. I’m sure that they wouldn’t have cared if I had made noise, but I felt like I was intruding. They aren’t the ones renting out the room and I hadn’t even met the flatmate who was, so I had no concept of their relationship or how they felt about Airbnb guests. I think I’m going to ask in the future about whether or not there are flatmates since I didn’t even know there were any until right before my arrival when my host told me that he would be out of town. I’m developing my preferences and that’s a good thing. 🙂 All I ended up doing that night was researching more things to do in Edinburgh and looking at potential places to stay after I left. Also, that might have been the night that the person I’d arranged to leave a bag with while I hiked Hadrian’s Wall told me to find somewhere else to store it and I didn’t feel like doing anything after looking into other options and feeling overwhelmed by the suddenness of the request. Eventually he told me that he could work from home that day; the issue had been that he didn’t want me to “waste my day” waiting until he was home to drop it off and the other option was to arrive before 11 am, which would have meant getting a train before 9 am and I was not prepared to get up that early. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there since I’m writing this blog post from THE FUTURE! I make myself laugh, so I hope that you’re at least mildly entertained. 😉 That’s it for April 28th!

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