Edinburgh – What else?

Robert Bičovský

I have recently been blessed with enough time and funds on my hands to think beyond rent and food. Naturally enough, I looked at travelling. Being the English language nutter I without a doubt am, I found the sudden realisation that I have never been to the UK quite baffling. And so it was “decided”. “Decided” in the sense that I would finally visit the UK. There was, of course, the consequent realisation that the UK is not just one place, and I still had to figure out exactly where to go. This particular decision might seem easy. In the end, however, it proved to be as easy as trying to read a book that is strapped onto a nervous gazelle. London was out of the question, because it seemed too obvious. Belfast? I don’t enjoy the Irish accent. Manchester? Where even is that? So after a brief consultation with the airlines about where they fly and for what price, I landed (no pun intended) in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh welcomed me warmly through a bus driver intermediary. He told me the bus ticket must be paid in cash and in the exact amount. That, I thought, was a total Richard relocation. Having convinced my bank account that I really do want to withdraw foreign currency, I finally got to my surrogate home. After a good night’s sleep, I went on a hike – to Arthur’s seat. If you’re unfamiliar with Arthur’s seat (stay calm, so was I), it is essentially a hill. I’m not trying to be derogatory, however. It is a very nice hill; the climb up was entertaining and the view was spectacular. All of Edinburgh lies at your feet when atop the seat. Combined with the marvellous adjoining shore and sea, this makes for an astonishing sight. The mighty Scottish gods even showed mercy and lifted the omnipresent fog and clouds, so something was actually visible.

Not that I’d particularly want to go on a 12+ km hike the very first day of my visit, but as we’ve already established, the buses are a bit of a hassle, and they run with the same frequency as Vesuvius erupts. The metro in Edinburgh has, unfortunately, come down with a serious case of “not there”. There are also trams, about which I’m only prepared to say that they are there. Once you do get on a bus, however, you will be welcomed by a generally nice and pleasant driver and two storeys. There was still the mild annoyance of payment in exact change, which was supported by the price tag of £1.70. And this price applies to both one-stop rides and going from terminus to terminus. Preposterous!

One of the best experiences I had was a walk to Cramond Island. Yes, a walk. Cramond Island is unique in the way that for a certain period during the day, it is possible to actually walk there, and there is even a path provided. Tides are responsible for covering the path, and there are multiple signs warning you about when you should head back so you do not have to spend the night on the island. There are structures from World War II to be seen, although these have been damaged by vandals. It is a great destination for a day trip. It contains lovely scenery nurtured by the harsh British weather and there is a beautiful sight to behold at sunset as the sun disappears behind the Scottish mainland. I took a whole day, some food and drinks, and went on to explore the island in detail. It was amazing.

Last but definitely not least, I would suggest choosing a very good surrogate home. As it turned out, I chose perfectly. The host was very kind and helpful in terms of both hospitality and advice on trips, the house was lovely, and – the best feature of them all – he had a dog (a beautiful, adorable golden retriever, which made for some great relaxing evenings).

So to anyone thinking of visiting Scotland, I would say, “Go for it.” Edinburgh has a lot to offer, and it will only eat up a little money on public transport.