Seeing Scotland: Edinburgh and Glasgow


I apologise for how slack I have been with my blog lately! I've been really preoccupied with my upcoming exams and just trying to generally enjoy my last couple of months at Warwick before this chapter of my life comes to an end. I've got less than a month now! In my procrastination, however, I've finally found a sliver of motivation to update my blog and in true Tash fashion, this motivation came the night before my exam. It's been exactly two months since I was actually in Scotland and I'm not sure exactly how much I remember of it but here goes...

Our journey to Edinburgh from campus was not an easy one. We had to endure an eight hour overnight bus ride from Birmingham and by the time we arrived, we'd all averaged only about two or three hours of sleep each (constant stops did not make sleeping overnight on the bus an easy feat).

St Mary's Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral

We arrived in Edinburgh really early on a Sunday morning, at around 7am, so nothing was open. The city seemed like a ghost town! Our first priority was to get to the hostel so we could drop off all of our bags. The walk to the hostel felt peculiar as the streets were completely deserted and it was a strange first impression to get of the city. It was so quiet and serene and I'm pretty sure not one car drove past us during our 10 minute walk to the hostel.

A few of our troop had arrived in Edinburgh the day before us and had told us about a walking tour offered by the city. It was a free one (well, you know, a 'free' one that takes tips) that began at 11am and showed you around old town Edinburgh. Because we had time to kill before 11am, we took our time wandering the streets of Edinburgh towards the starting place of the tour before stopping for breakfast to fuel us for the day ahead. Some of us were even brave enough to try out haggis!

National Gallery

The walking tour we took started at Tron Kirk and took us to various sights around the old part of Edinburgh. I felt that the tour was a bit too wordy for me and we spent more time standing around listening to the tour guide rather than actually seeing new sights. I'm not really the kind of person who is completely fascinated by history, if anything it bores me to tears, so the detailed explanations of all the sights was a bit too much for me. For anyone who is interested in that kind of stuff though, our tour guide really knew his stuff and was really informative.

I'm just not a big fan of walking tours in general though as I find them a little long-winded so my opinions are definitely a little biased. The fact that it was freezing cold just made things more miserable. I find it really hard to enjoy myself when I'm trying to stop my teeth from chattering so my morning wasn't the most enjoyable. However, we did visit some pretty cool sights. We got to see locations that inspired J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter, including the street that inspired Diagon Alley. Edinburghers are definitely proud of the fact that J.K. Rowling is from their town.

The street that inspired Harry Potter's Diagon Alley

Greyfriar's Bobby

Once the walking tour ended, we took a recommendation from our friends and made the trek up to the top of Arthur's Seat to see the city of Edinburgh from above. The walk up the mountain was tougher than I was expecting (think 1000 steps in Melbourne) and made me realise how out of shape I was after not hitting the gym for three weeks. It was exactly what I needed though because it definitely warmed me up and made the freezing Edinburgh weather almost tolerable.

Reaching the top of Arthur's Seat was incredible. The views were spectacular, nothing that photos can do justice, and the vibe up there in general was amazing, with the fresh crisp air and even guys jamming on their guitars at the very top. I could have stayed up there all day, it was so peaceful and calming. Arthur's Seat was definitely the standout and highlight of Edinburgh and Scotland overall for me.

The walk up to Arthur's Seat

The walk up to Arthur's Seat

Views from Arthur's Seat

Views from Arthur's Seat

It did start to get a bit cold at the top after a while though when we had cooled down from the hike up so we decided to descend and walk to Edinburgh Castle. The castle was a little anticlimactic so we didn't stay long and decided not to enter. and headed off to grab a bite to eat for dinner at a (below average) Italian restaurant before heading back to the hostel to check in.

For the night, we hit one of the pubs on the main road and enjoyed a few pints before getting an early night's rest for our early start the next day.

St Giles Cathedral

Edinburgh Castle

Day two in Scotland was spent in Glasgow, which we reached after a 2 hour bus ride. Glasgow was somewhere I didn't really have high expectations for going into the trip. We were only going to have around 5 productive hours there and it was more a stopover before our flight to Belfast. We also had to carry our heavy backpacks on our backs for the whole day because we weren't staying the night in Glasgow and didn't have a hostel to leave them at.

We left Edinburgh for Glasgow at 7.10am (meaning we had to be up at 6.30...) When arriving there, the weather wasn't great and there was a drizzle of rain. We weren't particularly in a rush to see or do anything, we actually had no idea what we were going to do in Glasgow so we spent most of the morning nursing cups of tea or coffee, trying to wake ourselves up while searching up possible ways to spend our day.

We settled on wanting to see George Square and Glasgow Cathedral before having to head to the airport to catch our flight. George Square didn't take too long to reach but was a little bit underwhelming. We did manage to get some strange looks though but unsurprisingly. After all, we were a group of nine walking around Glasgow with huge backpacks on our backs. I'm sure that's not a sight that the locals see often...

Glasgow Cathedral was further out from the city centre so took a solid fifteen minutes or twenty minutes to walk to. The walk was definitely worth it. There are no doubt more beautiful churches around Europe but the cathedral was the nicest thing that we managed to see during our time in Glasgow. What made it better was the views of the city from the top of the mountain behind it. 

George Square

George Square

Glasgow Cathedral

That pretty much sums up our day in Glasgow. We only had five hours there before having to head to the airport. I personally wouldn't visit Glasgow again. There was nothing about the city that was particularly charming or captivating and besides the cathedral and there was nothing to really see or do. However, I'm sure that with more time to spare, my experience of Glasgow would have been better.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, was gorgeous and definitely a destination worth visiting. I don't think I would recommend going in winter but I bet the city is beautiful in summer. Arthur's Seat was a real highlight for me and something that I will look back on and remember for years to come.

Again, I'm so sorry for the lack of activity on this blog. This post is also a little sloppy and rushed, definitely not my best or proudest, but I'm right in the middle of exam period so I did the best that I could! Hopefully my next post will come a lot sooner. Stay tuned to hear about my time in Belfast celebrating St. Patrick's Day!


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