Edinburgh Memories

Edinburgh
The Adventure Begins!

A year ago I drafted this post — the intent being to journal during my 10-day trip to Scotland and England, a trip made to attend TEDSummit Edinburgh.  I had intended to add more photos, and in the end I got so busy I never wrote another blog post after the first day, and never posted the one below. Even though it’s now a year old and I won’t be doing any traveling anytime soon, I thought I’d post it now. It’s nice in this time of self-quarantine to remember the lovely trips I have made over the years, and when my biggest travel worry was whether or not my flight would make it off before a rainstorm.

A gamble — re-route, or risk it?

An email from Delta arrived the night before our departure, advising that weather may play havoc with our flight and offering to waive fees if we wanted to re-route or cancel our flight to JFK.  It was the night before a long-planned trip to Scotland, when all airports on the Eastern seaboard were light up red, so re-routing didn’t seem like a promising option, and cancelling was not in the cards.  We risked it, our flight took off amid lightening just in front of the worst of the thunderstorm, and seven hours and one Ambien later we arrived in rain-soaked, historic Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Power of Facebook
Fancy Meeting You Here!

You Never Know Who You’ll Find!

Just before take-off, browsing Facebook one more time before I lost my connection, I saw that Kim, a woman I’d worked with two years ago and hadn’t seen since, was in Edinburgh as well. One text exchange later, we shook off our jet lag long enough to meet up with her family just a few blocks from our Airbnb. We hadn’t seen each other in San Diego for years, yet through the magic of Facebook posts we managed to reconnect while both of us were passing through Scotland, and I met her (wonderful) family for the first time.

Our Airbnb Entrance
Welcome Home!

A short walk along a cobblestone lane led to our Airbnb for the week, a one-bedroom unit in a Georgian townhome in New Town that is perfect. It’s quiet yet a 5-minute walk from a variety of restaurants, a grocery store, a pharmacy, pubs, whiskey bars, the Leith Walk, the Convention Center and more! Our living room is fit for a Queen, and it will be a shame if we leave before having some new-found friends over for a drink and conversation around the fireplace.

Living Room in our Airbnb
Our Living Room for the Week

We quickly unpacked and settled into our comfy bed and settled in for a well-deserved sleep before the Pre-TED event hosted by Virgin Money scheduled for the next day.

Pre-TEDSummit Gathering, aka “Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You”

TEDSummit Pre-Gathering
TEDxsters

Richard organized us for a pre-TEDSummit gathering to get to know one another before the huge group arrives later in the week, and we spent the morning introducing ourselves and bonding and preparing for the week ahead. Thank you Virgin Money for sponsoring and Richard for organizing! I snuck out for a Book Lover’s Tour over lunch, and only after we started walking to our first stop did I realize that I’d done this very same tour four years earlier. Oh well! I know should be very well-versed in the locations associated with Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the cafe where J.K. Rowling sat to write. After the walk I toured the Writers’ Museum with its exhibits on the aforementioned Robert Louis Stevenson as well as Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Inspired, I made a pit stop at Waterstone’s Book Shop and then met my husband for dinner at Makar’s – The Gourmet Mash Bar Company. They have a full menu of mashed potatoes, a great selection of beers, and won UK TripAdvisor Best Everyday Restaurant 2018. Go in and check it out!


Scotland Remains United with England, Wales and Northern Ireland

After an historic vote, with the voting age lowered so more Scots could have their voices heard, 55% of Scots voted to stay United, against the 45% that voted for Independence.  Almost 85% of eligible voters turned out — an amazing result I wish we could replicate in our upcoming (albeit less historic) elections.  And if only more issues of this importance were decided by free and independent votes at a ballot box rather than guns, knives, bombs and terrorism.  In our recent visit to Scotland most folks we met said the vote would fail, and that the majority of Scots are happy being part of the UK and/or the headaches and costs of separation were enough to lead to a “No” vote, so I’m not surprised by the outcome, and I think the effort of having the campaign and vote by itself has helped lead to changes that will be better for all.  Congrats to our friends across the ocean for showing how it can and should be done!


600 Seconds to Write

Perfect … read my PostaDay prompt at exactly 6:00 a.m. therefore it will be easy to write for 10 minutes.  Right?  Somehow though it should make absolutely no difference starting at a round number — especially at an hour on the dot — seems organized and round and the perfect jumping off place from which to dive into a project.  Much better than 6:03.

Now that we have that established, what exactly will I write about during my 10 devoted minutes?  Today is Scotland’s Day of Destiny, hence an ideal choice.  Certainly sounds important, and, in fact, it is.  What a difference between the UK and Russia.  On one hand, we have a rather civilized vote where the people who live in the country will decide whether they want to go it alone, as an independent nation, or stay consciously joined as part of the United Kingdom.  Things seem to work somewhat different in other countries which decide to consider a split.  No bloodshed in Scotland, no need for monitors for fear of cheating at the polls.

Of course it was much different years ago, when battles between the English and Scots were rampant.  So perhaps there is hope for other countries, as well.

Jack and I visited Scotland for the first time in June, and loved it much more than we had anticipated.  The literary history and culture of Edinburgh spoke to me.  For Jack, it was the Scottish people he enjoyed the most.  The Royal Mile was packed with tourists but it managed to maintain its ancient charms nonetheless.  The first morning I ran out our door when I heard the bagpipes playing — I wouldn’t want to miss that once-in-a-lifetime experience!  Of course after a day I realized it was more like once-an-hour, as the type of Scotland experience the tourists expect is broadly displayed, especially on the Royal Mile, not wanting to miss an opportunity to take in some tourist dollars.  And the number of pubs releasing those who had way too much to drink onto the cobblestone streets was a little distressing.  Really, how many pubs does one city need?  But the City is magical and charming and a very … whoops, my 10 minutes is up!