It’s Half-term so I’m free to write again, and in my newly restyled blog – hope you like it 🙂 Just trying to keep it fresh!
Introduction to the Escape – and pre-trip deliberations
So today I’m here to tell you about my most recent escapade – a mini-break in Edinburgh. It’s a city I’ve wanted to visit for a few years, but until now, I had never got it together to actually go. In fact, I had always been sort of waiting for the right time, for a friend (or preferably boyfriend!) to go with, for enough money, etc. It was all just excuses, and it finally dawned on me that if I wanted to go, I should just go. Alone.
So that’s exactly what I did, after much deliberation. I deliberated mostly about whether the decision to go on a mini-break alone would be cool, fun and liberating, or would make me a total loser. I’m fairly happy in my own company, and have travelled solo before, but never without the prospect of a job or friend to meet at the other end. The thought of travelling solo, sleeping solo, eating solo and exploring solo seemed a little sad in the eyes of the most negative part of myself…and I had a strange inner battle going on before I finally went ahead, booked the train, booked the hotel and decided to go for it. In the end, the inner adventurer in me won out, but I still couldn’t quite shake a slight feeling of dread every time I pictured myself dining out totally alone. My final philosophy was that I would never know if a mini-break alone would be fun, miserable, or just plain old fine until I actually did it, and I knew that I would learn over the trip just how happy I really am in my own company; if I ended up having a miserable time, well, I would just know to go with friends and family in future.
The Trip – Day One
The solo trip began early on Tuesday morning when I left Petts Wood for Kings Cross to get on the 08.00 East Coast train to Edinburgh, which amazingly takes just under 4 and a half hours. I actually left a fairly warm and sunny London behind but as I travelled further and further north, the sky got ever cloudier and grey, the train felt chilly and somewhere around Berwick-upon-Tweed, it started raining. Still, you don’t travel in Britain in late October thinking you are going to get sunshine, and after getting a hot chocolate on arrival in Edinburgh, I was told, “We don’t live here for the weather!” The rain and cold was at least giving me the authentic autumnal experience.
I went to check into my hotel – The Grassmarket Hotel – which had a convenient central location near several pubs and restaurants, and also offered something a little different in the way of decor. It had a young and trendy feel to it but as well as being quirky, my room was also very clean and comfortable. The walls were stylishly decorated with pages from The Dandy, but my favourite idiosyncrasy of this hotel were the complementary Tunnock’s teacakes and mugs decorated with a Tunnock’s teacake emblem. These were also available to purchase from the hotel which I did when checking out as a memory of my very comfortable stay there.
Exploring solo on Day One involved a trip to the brightly painted Museum of Edinburgh, and purchases of a few edible souvenirs from the Fudge House of Edinburgh, as well as some whisky-flavoured fruit cake from a shop offering many tempting traditionally Scottish delicacies.
Then came my ultimate dread on the first evening – dining out alone – which I still felt awkward about. I went to an inn close to the hotel – The White Hart Inn – and was relaxed by the cosy, friendly atmosphere. As I sipped the White Hart ale and sampled the delights of the traditional haggis, neeps and tatties (award-winning at the White Hart), I found that I was actually enjoying myself (although I still think it would have been much more enjoyable with a friend). However the food and ale were delicious, the staff were friendly and the pub was cosy; all in all my first day alone in Edinburgh had been enjoyable, relaxing, and I was looking forward to the next full day ahead.
This was the single full day of the trip and stands out to me as the highlight of my time in Edinburgh. I woke up to sunny skies and a fresh autumn day that was the perfect weather for walking round Holyrood Park and climbing up to Arthur’s Seat, the hill which overlooks the city. It was an invigorating climb and I was happy to reach the top and take a seat on the rocky summit, where I stopped to take in the stunning views.
In the afternoon I visited the Scotch Whisky Experience just to do something a bit different and in the hope of getting a nice gift for my dad; I was also looking forward to a taste of the tipple! However I have to confess that I didn’t actually enjoy the drink (it’s a bit strong for my liking) but I did get that nice gift I was after. I also enjoyed looking in the shops in the Royal Mile, and at the end of the day, I returned to the White Hart with more confidence and less awkwardness than the previous night. My wish for a friend to talk to came true when a six-year-old called Joe tapped me on the shoulder and called me a cutie (be careful what you wish for!).
My final day in Edinburgh, and I spent the morning doing a bit of gift-shop browsing, and visited the Writers’ Museum about the lives of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. I also went to The Elephant House (one of the cafes where J. K. Rowling wrote the early editions of Harry Potter). I boarded the 2.30 train to London where I am now writing this very blog post.
When I took this trip, I knew that it would test my own ability to be alone, and to my surprise, Day Two was the day where I discovered that I could be happy in my own company to an extent that I didn’t think was actually possible. Part of me cynically thought that spending a lot of time alone would be boring and depressing, but on the second day in Edinburgh, I found the opposite to be true. As the day went on, I experienced a growing feeling of peace and contentment and I had a lovely time exploring Edinburgh in my own way. My return trip to the White Hart confirmed that by the end of Day Two, I was a lot more comfortable with being alone in Edinburgh.
I’m really pleased that my inner adventurer persuaded me to take this trip. I had a great time and am returning to London with more than a few souvenirs, some edible ones as well as photographs, memories and experiences. I’ve included some more photos of Edinburgh below.
Hope you enjoyed this post, and that you also like the blog makeover.
Love, Jo xxx