| On Saturday we arrived in Edinburgh. This city was a feast for the eyes before we even got outside the station, which sits in a valley between two ridges in the center of the city. As we hiked up out of the valley, we were greeted by ornate buildings in every direction. We made our way to a Backpackers Hostel on Argyle Place, where we had reserved a private room. Most hostels have kitchens where guests can prepare their own meals, and this one was no exception. Across the street was an organic food store, so we ate quite well. A block away there was a park with sprawling expanses of flat lawns, and it was a bright and sunny day, so we found space between the soccer players to fling the frisbee back and forth to each other. We were liking this town more every minute.
On Sunday we walked along the High Street known as the Royal Mile, which follows one of the ridge tops. We poked around some of the alley-ways off the Royal Mile, which are called closes, and found quiet little gardens and passageways. We had coffee in a nice little shop about a block off High Street, which gave us the ambition for what came next.
The mouth of an extinct volcano rises from the eastern end of the Royal Mile, creating a bit of Scottish highlands in the heart of the city. We hiked along the side facing the city, called the Salisbury Crags, where we took in high panoramic views. Unfortunately, it was a grey and misty day, so our photos aren't as bright and sharp as we'd have liked. Next time we come here (and there WILL be a next time), we'll climb Arthur's seat, the high point on the other side of the volcano, rising over 700 feet above the rest of the city.
Even though it's a city of several hundred thousand people, Edinburgh had the friendliness of a small town. Everywhere we turned people were striking up conversations. Everyone was quite cheerful, and we encountered very little rudeness whatsoever. The friendliness of the people and the sheer beauty of the cityscapes make Edinburgh a place we will definitely have to come back to.
After wishing a fond fairwell to Edinburgh early Monday afternoon, we used the last day of our BritRail passes to get to the port city of Stranraer. As this is being written Monday evening, we can say that we've been getting incredible value for our money in food and accomodation. This is mainly because this is not really a tourist destination ... it's where you have to go to catch a ferry to Belfast.
We'll be on that boat tomorrow morning, and should be in RoZ's ancesteral homeland of Donegal by tomorrow evening. Most of the coming week will be spent exploring the west coast of Ireland. Hopefully this can get sent out before we leave, since Internet access is not as readily available in Ireland. By this time next week, we should be just arriving in France and starting our exploration of the continent.
We hope you are all doing well, as every time we read the paper we find more reasons to worry about our friends and family in the states. Send us a hello, and we guarantee we will read it.
Argyle Place, our home for two nights in Edinburgh. The purple sign at the end of the row on the left marks the location of our hostel.
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