October 1, 2011

recapping scotland

Four days ago I returned from a week in Edinburgh, Scotland. I had visited here once before, three years ago and the place stole my heart. My decision to return this year was very much last minute. I had a planned trip to Belgium that fell through and the combination of having some savings set aside, the craving for escape and a recently relocated friend in this capital city added up to a hastily booked ticket with British Airways. Usually before I go on vacation I do a ton of research, buy guide books and make notes about what I want to see and do once I arrive. Because I decided this return last minute I didn't make any plans. I just wanted to go away. Change the scenery. Relax. And that is exactly what I did. I am quick to associate relaxing vacations with islands, beaches, tropical locales. So this felt new to me, to be in a city and take it easy. I spent much of my time just wandering around, popping into pubs for the occasional pint, doing a bit of shopping, reading, taking naps, rediscovering the simple pleasure and ritual of both the long, hot bath and drinking a pot of tea. I was outdoors as much as possible-- in the garden, near the sea, hiking Arthur's Seat. It was refreshing and renewing. I stayed with my friend who is living in the Abbeyhill neighborhood of Edinburgh in what I found to be a sublimely charming Colony House. Colony Houses can be found in many of the outlying neighborhoods and are basically what we would call row homes in the States. The difference is there are two flats, one on the first floor and the other takes up the second and sometimes third floor. They are modest in size but each has it's own entrance and gardens thanks to their smart design. The flats on the first floor have an entrance off the street with the 2nd floor units having their entry at the top of a stair located on the backside of the building.

the wild garden of my host where I spent a good deal of my time
I was pleased that the location of the neighborhood where I was staying was only about a 20-25 minute walk in to the heart of the city and an even closer walk to Arthur's Seat. Abbeyhill has plenty of it's own cafes, pubs and shops to choose from so I didn't need to go far if I didn't want to. I felt quite at home there.

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