Edinburgh: Aimless Wandering

Edinburgh Castle, I think
Edinburgh Castle. At least, I think that’s what it is. I saw it up on the hill while wandering aimlessly.

I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland on a dull day after a train ride from York, England. An occasional light drizzle greeted me. It was more like a brief, heavy mist, really—so slight as to make an umbrella superfluous. The wetness soon stopped completely. Although, for the most part, it remained overcast for the rest of the day.

From the map on my iPhone, it appeared to be no more than a dozen blocks from the train station to my hotel.

“No problem,” I thought. “It’s fairly dry. I’ve tackled far greater distances on foot between train stations and hotels in other cities.” Off I went, ignoring the taxis waiting for customers at the station.

I didn’t count, but I think I was right about it being not more than a dozen or so blocks. However, I wish I was clever enough to look at a topographical map. The journey was up a substantial hill and down the hill. And there were a couple of other minor ascents and descents, as well.

Some of the walk was on sloped, but flat sidewalks beside roads. But some of it was up steep steps and down steep steps. At one point, as I got close to my hotel, the shortest route on my map took me down a long staircase. I decided, instead, to lengthen my walk a bit by taking a curved road that avoided the steps.

I did all this while hauling my wheeled suitcase and carrying a light backpack on my back. It was after 3:00 p.m. by the time I got to my hotel, checked in, and spent some time unwinding in my room.

The good news is that I proved to be in pretty good shape for a man my age, but at my age, that’s not saying a lot.

Random Edinburgh

After I recovered, I did what I normally do when I’m in a new city: wander around aimlessly. (That is to say, Edinburgh is new to me. Portions of it are quite old. Then again, to some eyes, especially those with good vision, I appear to be quite old too, but on a completely different timescale.)

My initial reaction is that Edinburgh is a stunning, knockout of a city. I’m looking forward to exploring it further over the next few days.

I posted some photos from my aimless wandering in Edinburgh below, but you’ll either have to bear through a couple of asides first or scroll past them.

Aside #1: I arranged my trip intentionally to avoid being in Edinburgh during the Edinburgh International Festival and its world-famous companion, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. They both start the day I leave. I did this to avoid the huge festival crowds and the significantly higher prices that hotels posted on the web for rooms during the festivals.

I succeeded in avoiding the exorbitant hotel prices, but the crowds? Not so much. This appears to be a major tourist city. I don’t know how they shoehorn in the additional people who come to the festivals.

Asides

Aside #2: There are a few straight streets here. They occasionally intersect perpendicularly with straight streets. But, for the most part, the roads in the old part of the city south of the train station, where I did my wandering, are laid out on a strict higgledy-piggledy pattern. If you’re a pedestrian, as I am, a long, steep set of steps that’s marked on my mapping app as a path is often the most direct way to get from point A to point B. If you’re a driver, you’d probably be best advised to stick to the streets.

I’m not confident that I’ll ever completely get my bearings here. It’s a lot like Boston in that regard. I’ve been to Boston many times. Yet I still can’t find my way around downtown on my own without a GPS-based mapping app. Edinburgh can use the large, tall, partially cliff-faced hill in the centre of the city as an excuse for its disorienting street patterns. Boston has no such excuse.

Alright, here are the pics. (Note: Some of the buildings pictured below might crop up again as I do some less-aimless visiting of Edinburgh’s sights over the next few days.)

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