Monday. Oh, waking after another solid sleep to full breakfast; CNN on the telly in the corner of the room; travelers from the continent in the tables surrounding– the breakfast room really is a pleasant and reassuring aspect of traveling- despite nothing but bad news from the screen (Yes: hurricane Wilma, Avian flu having reached Greece, the dreadful earthquake in Pakistan… the mind reels and the heart sinks-)
BUT! Today is “Return to Edinburgh” day– I swear I’d have cried if Anders hadn’t agreed! (But I knew he would- he missed that city as much as did I) So back on that train! Upon arrival to our fair city, we took advantage of what is known as “Left Luggage”; a spot where one can leave any piece of luggage for as long as one needs- £5 per 24 hours. Brilliant! Anders had thought of it night before, so we packed all we’d need for an overnight into our smaller, more manageable bags.
Up those Waverly Steps into full noon- welcome back. A deeply inhaled breath, eyes closed- sweetness, joy. Along Princes Street we have a bit of a chat with a friendly hippie-clad “nun” (read: Hare Krishna) who told us of the many outposts of the organization to which she belonged throughout the world, and was looking for donations. In return, a cd of music which she described as “Monk Punk.” We bite- pool our pounds of pocket change. She also gives us a hippie Hare Krishna book (this proves useful upon return to London), and wishes us well on our travels.
Continued walk down Princes to Lothian (or, as Anders preferred to call it, Lothlorian) and back to our Guest House ‘hood, where the leaves are changing colors and carpeting the lovely streets. There is a school, by the way, at the end of our street- a middle school I think- and I cannot tell you the name– for whatever it was, the clever kids had taken away all the portions of lettering on the sign, save a few characters, which ended it up as “ALI. G” Hilarious.)
Hello to Adam, again, and drop off the delightfully diminished luggage- then heading back out. Today is for walking the Water of Leith. It is no river; more a stream. It runs through Edinburgh almost hidden, and out to the seaside town of Leith, where the harbour meets the firth. A lovely and agreeable nature walk along what was a mill-spotted and dammed waterway in the city’s more industrial times. At parts it takes you back up to the surface of city streets (we couldn’t resist having lunch at the Bailie once again, even as it was so shortly after we’d set out), and at times takes you through plots of gardens, wooded paths- just brilliant. Along the way are no public loos, so we made a habit of stopping off now and again along the three mile walk to have “half-pints, and pee” Funny.
Arriving at Leith we are hoping to have an actual up-close view of the firth, the harbour; but are foiled. The stretch along the water there is thoroughly clothed in industrial loading docks, buildings, etc, and the water is quite literally out of any possible view. We don’t mind, though. We wander, and come upon a place called Cameo Bar, which our kiwi-transplant hostess had told us of back at the Bailie. A wee respite, time to write a bit, then back to walking. Anders had consulted one of the maps, and found us a quite different route upon which to return to the city. A long, wide boulevard and nearly a straight shot back, with interesting things along the way (I believe it was called Boughton Street?)
We arrive back to the center of Edinburgh as the sky is turning its dusky blue, the lights in the clock towers are glowing gorgeously, and anders finds us a cute Czech pub beneath Waterloo overpass, so we stop in- a ‘full circle’ moment, as this city has reminded us in many ways of Prague. We chat with the bartendress, who is planning a visit to Prague in the winter, and Anders gives her the name of our Holiday Home Pensione, where we stayed while we were there.
We traverse New Town on our way back and realize it is getting late, so have simple fare of some toasties in one of the places along Queens street (or one of those streets north of Princes). Then to Bennet’s. We sit at the bar this time, and the place is crowded. Anders winds up talking to various folks, as I nip outside multiple times to phone Kev, (missing him thrice before connecting) as it’s his birthday. So happy we came back, if only for a day.