There’s a piece of me that feels a little pang inside every time I look at a map and see Scotland. There’s a lot to be said for being in the right place mentally before you take a journey. What that right place is, well, that’s up to you. But for me, I wish I’d taken things a little slower when I first went to Europe. Or had more time there. Or more money. Hahaha, always more money, especially for travel in Europe…but overall, I really don’t regret going. I’m so happy that I did.
I do regret, however, only spending three days in Edinburgh. My evil step-brother, P., and I had a friend studying abroad in Edinburgh, K. She is amazing. And she was the best host ever. She let us stay in her dreamy 6-person flat right near the Cowgate, fed us lentils, drew us maps, took us to the falafel bar, and put up with me doing my laundry in the bathroom that took two days to dry.
It was the first time I’d ever walked on cobblestone streets. The tangible sensation and the realization that I was somewhere older than I’d ever been – far older than my own home and country – is something I will never forget.
And I’ll never forget climbing up to Arthur’s Seat by myself, accidentally taking the long, winding, not-clearly-marked path because I am too dumb to read a very simple map. But it was glorious. As I struggled to reach the proper summit from the next hill over, the sun suddenly burst out from behind the clouds and illuminated my way up to the top. I felt wild, and free, and gloriously alive.
Oh, Edinburgh. When I think of it, when I see Scotland on a map, I think of the exact burst of emotion that welled up in me at that moment. Standing there, seeing this incredibly beautiful city spreading out from me towards the ocean, backlit by a gorgeous sky, made me ask myself some hard questions. That moment was one of the motivating factors that made me decide I wanted to travel extensively. Really, what had I done to deserve such an opportunity? Moments like those are the moments I love to experience, not just in travel, but life in general: ones that cause me to stop and think, “Damn, I am so lucky, so blessed, so happy to be here.”
On reflection, the weekend we spent there was perfect. It introduced me to train travel and made me fall in love with it. It introduced me to a lovely seaside medieval town. And it was full of laughs and good company and conversations. I’ll always remember that weekend fondly. I didn’t want to leave. I still want to move to Edinburgh, however implausible it may be. But I almost don’t want to visit it again. I worry that my first impression was so good, that I’d never want to spoil the magic of my memories of my time there. Perhaps Edinburgh will always remain a treasured memory and a wonderful dream.