I had a fabulous time in Edinburgh this past weekend with two good friends from Davis. Kalen is finishing off his last year in law school at the Univ of Edinburgh and is renting a great place with his wife just south of the beautiful downtown area and castle hill. Jesse had planned a trip out to visit Kalen and it worked out that I was able to schedule a side trip after my business trip to Copenhagen. It was a fantastic weekend spending time with two great guys and seeing one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
I flew in Friday and Edinburgh is one windy city. Actually, flying into both Edinburgh and Copenhagen in smaller planes was fairly harrowing and our plane was being jostled all over the place and it seemed the pilot was fighting to keep the wings straight. I had confidence though that these guys know what they're doing because these cities are windy all the time and (I told myself that) they must fly these routes all the time...
I met up with Jesse in the aiport (he arrived from Amsterdam) and we took the double-decker bus into Marchmont where Kalen lives with his wife. It was very memorable and beautiful seeing the fabulous architecture (neoclassical mostly) and sloping green hills for the first time.
While we waited for Kalen to get back from turning in his final papers, I got on the internet (thanks to a neighbor's wifi connection) and corrected a student's essay for the Essay Institute. Kalen's place was very nice: wood floors, cozy fireplace, bay windows and a small garden in the back. We hit two different pubs that night, walked over to his university and also walked around the castle. I was incredibly impressed with the city: not only is it gorgeous, grand, classy and impressive-looking, but the people we met were uniformly nice and you have to love the Scottish accent. I also noticed the people by and large looked more like typical Americans in terms of dress as well. (Which is good and bad.)
Kalen made us a great Scottish breakfast with baked beans, bacon, ham, fried tomato and haggis the next morning and we walked all over the city again. Some highlights include: seeing St. Gilles Cathedral where John Knox preached; checking out the cafe where JK Rawling wrote the first Harry Potter book; walking by the decidedly ugly new modern Parliament Building; overlooking the city from what I believe was Carlton point; seeing statues of famous Edinburgh residents: David Hume & Robert Louis Stevenson; walking in the beautiful "water of Lief" neighborhood where Kalen and Melissa have considered eventually buying a cottage and living!
In the evening we went on a very fun and very well done "ghost walking tour" where a cute, funny and articulate woman in her early fifties wearing a black cloak mesmerized us with ghost stories about the past as we walked through the city and into an underground area.
I had to fly out Sunday to catch my flight back to Copenhagen on Monday but this short trip was absolutely worth it. Even spending a day in a city is enough to get a significant sense of its history and culture and allow you to identify with it whenever you hear it mentioned or written about. There are few things Agi and I love more than walking around and exploring new places and I'm already looking forward to when she and I will go there together. (She was there in Scotland in the summer of 1999 as a college student picking strawberries with friends, living in a tent and traveling around.) We also definitely like the idea of putting up whatever apartment/flat/condo we have in the future for a house exchange like my family did to France back when I was in high school.
It was a great trip and I'm back now in the U.S.