Thursday, 8 June 2017

A Scottish Affair !

While waiting eagerly to board my flight for Edinburgh my husband casually mentioned that they call it as "Edinbrah", I found it amusing and enchanting! And enchanting it is. It's breathtakingly beautiful. Never have I been so taken by a city from the first glance. There is something very magical about the whole place, maybe it because they have a Castle right in the middle of city sitting majestically over a hill! It's not like your typical sordid city at all, the place has a charm which takes you back in time.

Edinburgh is a visual treat. And we were lucky enough to be there on it's best behaviour(weather-wise). So even though it was cold and windy, it was sunny most of the days and surprisingly pleasant.

The best part about Edinburgh is that it's not as big or complex as other metropolis, so you don't feel "lost". Spend a day or two and you feel so comfortable that you feel you belong there. Unfortunately Scotland in itself is very vast and trying to cover it via public transport with limited timeline is a herculean task. So we couldn't visit most of the places we had planned for, instead were guided by a very helpful ticket conductor to visit a nearby small town - North Berwick.

North Berwick was like a wild card entry! We had no idea what lay ahead, haven't done any research on the place and so had no expectations. The place is an absolute gem! It could not have been any more perfect. In fact if not for my undying love for Bangalore, I would have loved to retire in North Berwick! I simply fell in love with Tantallon Castle which although in ruins is gorgeous and a view to kill for!

In above pic you may notice a distant white rock, it's called Bass Rock and is not white at all. It appears white due to thousands of gannet birds which cover the entire surface of island. They have a telescope at Tantallon Castle which gives a clear view of Bass Rock with it's lighthouse.

But as I always say it's not just about geography, a great place needs interesting people and great food. And am happy to say that we met some very fine Scottish people. To cite few examples, when we were enquiring about our transport to Tantallon Castle in city tourist center (which was more like a table in public library), we were disappointed to learn that connectivity was not as good we had hoped for. Buses were on hourly basis and we had just missed the one by 5 minutes. As we stood outside considering options, an old gentleman approached us and asked in rich Scottish accent if we would like a ride to castle. We asked if he is going that way to which he replied no, but that he would love to drop us anyway. What a kind gesture! We thanked him profoundly to which he only smiled and said maybe I will consider it as my today's "good deed". Similarly we were once "looking" quite lost (we were only trying to figure out which is our best option for dinner), and a kind elderly couple stopped to find out if we need any help with directions. We confessed our dilemma to which they happily guided us to one of the most authentic Scottish pubs we had ever had the opportunity to visit.

Not to mention this time, we experimented with AirBnB. For those who are unaware, it's basically letting strangers stay at your place! It a very alien concept to us Indians, the idea of entrusting strangers to come and live, giving access to your home and kitchen. Although it seems uncomfortable initially, we had a really good time and I can see why the idea is gaining popularity across the globe.

There are so many places which I would love to revisit and moments I wish to re-live in Edinburgh that it would be hard to pick one. But if I have to I will pick Arthur's seat. Like the rock on which Edinburgh Castle is built, it was formed by an extinct volcano (again in the middle of the city!) and is often described as "a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design". You can climb up and bask in the everything this city has to offer.

As I watched the sun go down, overlooking this magnificent man-made city on one side and resilient eternal sea on the other side, I couldn't help but contemplate on life. If someone told me as a kid that one day I would be sitting on a mountain top in Scotland enjoying a splendid sunset, I would have laughed off because I didn't grow up dreaming about such things. But here I am and I couldn't be more grateful. A perfect way to say goodbye to the city of "Edinbrah".

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