As we arrived in Edinburgh, I let out a sigh of gratitude and relief. After living in bustling cities for the past three weeks, the fact that restaurants closed at 9 PM seemed oddly welcoming. Right away, this was a place that felt like home. No matter how different the climate (it was an average of 57 degrees while we were here), I felt wrapped in the city’s warm embrace from the moment we began our stay.
My favorite parts of Edinburgh were the residential areas, adorable local stores, and the walkability that permeated the entire city. We stayed in the Stockbridge area which is full of incredible and casual restaurants, unique pubs and bars, and cozy coffee shops. I even was able to find a yoga studio which provided me with some much-needed reflection time. There is no shortage of natural beauty either in this region, and hikes, parks, and gardens are plentiful. I could truly go on all day about Scotland, but am most thankful for the feeling of peace this city of rolling hills and Gothic architecture brought me.
- Stockbridge Market: Stockbridge is my personal favorite part of the city, and this Sunday Market is one of the reasons why. Explore, eat your share of vegan desserts or scotch eggs, and people (or dog) watch!
- Arthur’s Seat: A challenging but rewarding hike, this lookout over the city is absolutely breathtaking.
- Golden Hare Books: An adorable independent bookstore on my favorite street surrounded by great vintage shops and restaurants.
- Panda & Sons: If you’ve ever dreamt of using a secret door disguised as a bookshelf, or drinking a cocktail from a giant top hat, go here!!
- The Pantry: Most certainly the best breakfast I’ve ever had was at this restaurant.
- Calton Hill: A super easy hike to the top with great views over the city as well as an art gallery a few monuments.
- Armstrong’s: Amazing vintage shopping right near the Edinburgh Castle.
- The Royal Botanic Gardens: Absolutely beautiful gardens that are free to explore and admire.
On a more serious note, Scotland was experiencing unrest and protest as talks of Brexit and the refugee crisis filled the news. We happened to walk by a fairly large group of protesters against refugees but soon realized that across from them was a counter protest three times their size chanting “refugees are welcome here” and holding “United Against Racism” signs. This was a truly chilling experience to see those so full of fear and hatred, but also gave me so much hope to see the counter-protesters fighting back and showing up in even greater numbers. It was a humbling reminder to be grateful and to also be vigilant. History is being created in these small moments and choices we make each day, and I do not want to look back and say that I let hatred or even indifference win.
This trip has given me more faith in the kindness of others, the possibility of peace, and the beauty of our world. It has also further impressed upon me that even beyond American politics and current events I still have so much to learn. It is easy to get caught up in daily life, but traveling truly puts it in perspective how small our corners of the world are. My goal as I prepare to return home is to be more engaged globally and to dedicate myself to making our world more peaceful and sustainable, however small my own impact may be.