When my boyfriend and I chose Scotland as the destination for our vacation neither of us really knew anything about the place. We resorted to a flurry of last-minute Google searches that were all along the lines of “where should we visit in Scotland?,” “best city to visit in Scotland?,” “which is better Glasgow or Edinburgh?” etc. We were so anxious to book a trip; our schedules are pretty hectic so planning a vacation (and booking everything) was a challenge. When we were both in a room together long enough to make our travel plans, we jumped to book our getaway in Glasgow, because, at the time, it seemed that the internet was leaning in favor of this Scottish destination.
I try not to have any regrets. If I make a not-so-great decision, I can usually find something positive to reassure myself with. I say this, Dear Reader, because I must admit that I think I enjoyed seeing Edinburgh much more than our Glasgow homebase. My boyfriend and I did a day trip to Edinburgh and -by god! Dear Reader- it is truly a storybook city. You can see ruins and castles and hills and ocean! Like a pop-up book, this city has a collection of unique captivating features that are both a surprise and wonder to discover. Edinburgh is eclectic in the way it intertwines the old with the new. Bridges and thoroughfares are conduits for tourists to travel from storied structures to modern marvels.
In Edinburgh, my boyfriend and I visited the Scottish parliament for a free tour (make sure to book in advance!). The post-modern structure was designed by the Spanish architect Enric Miralles. The building itself is reminiscent of an art museum and is unlike any government building that one would see in the U.S.. The building, like Edinburgh, is a mix of old and new. Indigenous stone is splotched and layered with painted metal. Windows are irregularly shaped and obscured by dark wooden facades. Construction finished in 2004, a few years after the lead architect died. Some architectural choices remain a mystery, but many can agree that this building represents the heart of Scottish democracy.
Another thing we did on our mini adventure was visit Holyrood park. This “park” is but a monolith! With imposing hills and high-above cliffs, it is like a wall protecting and framing the old city. If you are in need of a new Christmas (or other holiday) card, go here! You can get stunning views of the city from on top of the peaks. You can also see the ocean and ancient ruins here. If you’re more natury, this is definitely a good location for a long hike.
When traveling to Edinburgh, my best advice to you, Dear Reader, is to allow yourself enough time to explore! It was a shame that my boyfriend and I found ourselves rushing through the picturesque, old streets because we were afraid that we would miss our 3pm tour of the parliament building. Give yourself enough time to stop for a coffee, look at the shops, and wander without aim. Why not take the time to really enjoy it!