Monday, June 9, 2014

Random Socializing in Edinburgh

The plan for Memorial Day weekend came about a little haphazardly. After buying tickets to Istanbul in early April, I decided that I should make an effort to get out of Norway a little more this year and did a little searching for some cheap intra-Europe flights. I found some under $100 roundtrip tickets to Edinburgh, hit purchase and promptly filed the trip into the "plan later" category. Fast forward into mid-May and I finally got around to booking a hotel and thinking about what I might do in Scotland. I didn't manage to recruit a travel companion, but three days of low-key hanging out sounded nice.

The Friday before Memorial Day I hopped onto my first Ryan Air flight from Oslo Rygge (a much smaller airport south of the city) to Edinburgh. The experience was about what I expected of Ryan Air - cheap, no frills, and not exactly comfortable. But it did the trick and without incident I arrived in Scotland, caught a bus to my hotel, and settled in for a quiet night in. While checking the good old facebook, I noticed that one of my A-100 (Foreign Service cohort) friends was also in Edinburgh to run the half-marathon that was also taking place. After some message exchanges we found a time to meet up, and voila, people to hang out with!

We had a lovely (and oh so cheap in comparison to Norway) lunch and then joined a free walking tour. Catching up and seeing sights was great, and while I love traveling alone, it was really nice to be able to engage in a running commentary on the tour guide with som like-minded Americans. I was even invited in to a home-cooked meal with my friend's friend (a genuine Scot).

The next day I did some exploring of the castle and downtown while my friend and her colleagues did a cold, wet half-marathon out to the coast. I decided to do my own run through town, running up and down Arthur's Seat, racking up some kms along with some sore hamstrings. Later in the evening we all joined up for a very fancy set-course all-local meal before heading out for an evening of whiskey tasting and experiencing the Edinburgh nightlife.

Monday I returned to Oslo, grateful for a wonderful weekend away and for random encounters with colleagues from around the world.


Edinburgh Castle



The top of Arthur's Seat, the mountain on the edge of Edinburgh. I didn't end up with much of a view from the top at first, but a few minutes later the clouds parted and I got a great view of the city. 

A visit to the Scotland National Museum was rewarded with a close-up encounter with the remains of Dolly the cloned sheep. 

My last day in Edinburgh: The clouds and rain finally ceased and a rainbow emerged over Arthur's Seat. The white building with the spikes coming out of it is Scotland's Parliament building.

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