The Edinburgh Way of Life

On the fourth day of our three country adventure, my traveling companions and I took a short flight from Ireland to Scotland. Edinburgh Airport was our destination. Because the flight was so brief, we didn’t climb high above the earth. Instead, the countryside, rivers, buildings and houses were easily discernible from my window seat vantage point.

This was perfect for me. I watched intently as we flew low across the Borders and approached Scotland’s capital city. Although I enjoyed visiting Ireland and England, Scotland calls strongly to me. My soul answers that siren call, energetically stretching out ahead of my body to connect with my ancestral home.

I am not typically a big city girl. Joplin, with a population of 55,000, is just about the right size for me. How then to explain why this sprawling metropolis of almost half a million people has captivated me so, earning the title of My Favorite City in the World.

I love the energy of Edinburgh, home of national festivals and endless activities, museums and universities, cathedrals, historical sites and a castle. Together Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town form a UNESCO World Heritage Site that draws more than a million visitors a year.

I was grateful to be one of those visitors this year. Here are additional highlights of our first day in Auld Reekie:

First glimpse of Edinburgh Castle. Our apartment was in the neighborhood behind the ancient fortress. From almost anywhere in the city, you can look up and orient yourself by locating the castle.

Wellington Statue

The Scott Monument near the Princes Street Gardens.

The Scottish Saltire, white cross on a sky blue background, and the red, white and blue Union Jack.

Because my son is a police sergeant, I like to take pics of police cars in other countries. Edinburgh’s police car.

I wrote about Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful little dog who refused to leave his owner’s grave after the man died. Bobby is buried just inside the cemetery gates, near his owner. I wondered about the sticks. My niece and sister pointed out that dogs like to play fetch, chasing after a thrown stick. Ahhhh, yes, I got it.

The grave of Bobby’s owner, John Gray. Bobby remained near this site for 14 years, until he too died. The city adopted him and made sure he had food, water and shelter. More sticks as a memorial at this gravesite.

Greyfriars Kirk Cemetery.

The leaves were beginning to turn in Edinburgh and the weather was much cooler than in Missouri, necessitating long sleeves and jackets.

Everywhere I look in Old Town, it’s like a scene from a Charles Dickens novel come to life.

We concluded our first day in Edinburgh with dinner at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. William Brodie, 1741-1788, was more commonly known as Deacon Brodie. He was a respectable cabinet maker by day, and a city councilor, who maintained a secret life as a burglar, partly for the thrill of stealing and partly to fund his gambling habit.

Part of his job as a cabinetmaker was to install and repair locks in prestigious homes. Brodie used his day job as a way to get info about his clients and to make wax impressions of the locks’ keys, allowing him to easily enter the houses later and steal. Brodie was eventually caught, found guilty of his crimes and hanged before a crowd of 40,000.

Robert Louis Stevenson, whose father owned furniture made by Brodie, was fascinated by the dichotomy between Brodie’s respectable life and his true nature, and was inspired to write The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a result.

In fact, Stevenson found Edinburgh itself to be leading a double existence.

I love the history and colorful stories associated with Edinburgh. I feel like I have only just begun to learn these stories. The city has so much more to reveal to me.

My earnest desire is to live in Edinburgh part time. My grandchildren are still young and I could not be away from them or my adult children for long. My family is here in the States. They are dear to me. I envision myself living a month in Edinburgh and then three months in Joplin, going back and forth throughout the year.

I have released that desire, that dream, to the Dream Maker. I don’t need to figure out the hows or the whens…I will just hold to the whys. Edinburgh feels like home to me. It feels right. A mixture of contentment and excitement fills me there, in a way that it does not elsewhere. I am open to all possibilities, and attached to nothing. If I am meant to be in Edinburgh part time, the way will be revealed to me, and I will simply take each step as it is shown to me.

Writer Ian Rankin said, “Edinburgh isn’t so much a city, more a way of life. I doubt I’ll ever tire of exploring Edinburgh, on foot or in print.”

My sentiments, exactly.

Edinburgh Says Welcome Back

I first visited this amazing Scottish city in 2014. I’ve dreamed of returning since the moment my airplane lifted into the skies above Edinburgh, homeward bound. What a powerful feeling of anticipation I experienced this morning as our small jet flew low over the Scottish countryside, in preparation for landing.

Edinburgh feels like coming home to me.

We are staying in a wonderful 2 bedroom apartment in the center of old Edinburgh. As we waited for our quarters to be ready, we explored the neighborhoods nearby, found a delightful little cafe for lunch, and eventually ended up touring the city in our favorite way on a hop on/hop off bus.

Here are highlights of the day:

This huge sign greeted us as we exited the Edinburgh airport, perfectly expressing the way I feel. In ways I can’t fully explain, Scotland feels like home to me. Although my ancestors came from the Scottish Borders south of the city, and I love that region as well, Edinburgh calls to me like no other place on earth. It is my favorite city.

As I was looking for a quote about Edinburgh that I only half remembered, I came across another one that expresses my sentiments as well: “I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home.” What surprised me was who said those words…the late actor, Alan Rickman, who has been foundational to my year of inspiration. I should have known he had a connection to Edinburgh as well.

The ancient Edinburgh Castle sits high atop a craggy hill, overlooking the city. We will visit this fortress in the morning.

Beautiful architecture throughout the city, in both the old side and the new side, which is still more than 700 years old.

One of the places all of us wanted to see was the site of the Greyfriars Bobby statue. Bobby was a wee terrier whose owner passed away after a sudden illness. For 14 years, the faithful dog stayed near his owner’s grave in the cemetery. People cared for him, providing food and shelter. When the loyal pup died of old age, he was buried just inside the graveyard gate, near his human.

We toured the Greyfriars Kirk Graveyard as well. This old cemetery has a very gothic look, with headstones and memorials dating back to the 1500s. The overcast day created a gloomy atmosphere that was perfect for our exploration. Bobby’s grave is marked by a headstone that matches his owner’s, John Gray.

We completed our first day in Scotland with a delicious dinner at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. Debbie and Linda tried haggis for the first time. Mom and I had a veggie burger that was awesome. And I got to enjoy a Scottish cider called Thistly Cross. This light and refreshing hard cider has simple ingredients and no added sugar.

It was an enchanting day, full of glad remembrances and happy reunions as I recognized landmarks from my previous trip. I dearly love this city. The energy is lively, uplifting and intriguing. My heart beats in sync with the rhythms of Auld Reekie, so named for the smoke that used to rise from the cottages.

Riding in the top deck of our tour bus, I couldn’t help but notice bright yellow flags along a street. Welcome Back they declared. Thank you, I silently answered. I am so happy to be back.