Exploring Edinburgh

Last Thursday, the ISS (International Summer School) team took us to Edinburgh for the day and we were free to do whatever we wanted. Wow, I fell in love with this beautiful, old city in a matter of minutes. My friends and I were able to squeeze in many adventures within just one day. Edinburgh is unlike any other city I've been to before.

In the morning we walked around and got drinks at a little coffee shop. The hot sandwiches there were called "toasties," and I think that is the most adorable word. I am no longer calling them panini's anymore. They are toasties. We then made our way to Edinburgh castle -- that place was huge! It was pretty pricey to get inside the walls, but I figured I might as well make the most of my trip. We spent two hours exploring the castle and it blew my mind that royalty once lived there. Who on earth needs that much space?! It was also neat walking along the top of the wall, looking through the same exact openings that guards looked through centuries ago. This place was over 1,100 years old! That is absolutely crazy to wrap my mind around. America hasn't even been established for 300 years yet.

Next we walked along the famous shopping street, the Royal Mile, and I bought some postcards and magnets. We met up with our ISS group for a mini Harry Potter tour. We were taken to some places that inspired J. K. Rowling's books, since she lived in Edinburgh years ago. At the Elephant Cafe, I ate the most delicious ham and cheese toastie I've ever had and drank hot chocolate art in a mug. I loved this quaint cafe and it was actually the very place that J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter! The bathroom walls were completely graffiti covered with messages to the author.

We then were taken to a peaceful cemetery that J. K. used to enjoy walking through. It was lovely getting away from the loud, busy streets of Edinburgh and finding some quiet and stillness. This was a super cool part of the tour for me because we got to see grave stones with the names of characters from the books! J. K. is clever -- what better way to get name inspiration than from a graveyard? I may have freaked out a little when I saw Tom Riddle's headstone.

Once the tour ended, a group of friends and I took yet another tour but this one was very different. It was called the Edinburgh Underground Ghost Tour. We had a sensational, charismatic tour guide named James who never got out of character and who made us laugh the whole time. As we walked the streets, he shared old murder stories from the past. It wasn't until we actually went underground, into vaults under the city, that I began feeling a little creeped out. Ghost tours never faze me at all but this one did give me some goosebumps. He told us the vault we were in was only accidentally discovered a year ago. It was entirely dark so we used the flashlights on our phones to see. James said that this was currently a big hot spot for paranormal investigators, who were constantly experiencing bizarre incidents when they came late at night. He said that many people on his tour claim to see a sad, old woman in the corner... and pointed directly behind me. I quickly found a new corner to stand in. He then shared a few more ghost stories before taking us back up into the world of the living.

Edinburgh was a wonderful, historical city and I really hope to visit it again in the future.

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