My Scottish Sunday.
Before I tend to the rant that will be my two weeks in Prague & Italy, I want to give you all a glimpse of my past Sunday. I was exhausted from traveling, Edinburgh weather had returned in a (small) vengeance, and I was feeling incredibly homesick after being with Fairfield U friends in Florence for five days. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to have a “Best-day-in-Edinburgh-ever” part….whatever “part” I’m on now.
I met the girls at “Elaine’s Cuppa Cake,” a cute wee shop on Nicholson’s Street that I’ve been dying to try since I arrived back in January. For just £5, Elaine will serve you homemade sandwiches, scones, & tea cakes on classic tartan and real china in a perfect take on Scottish afternoon tea.
I got a coronation chicken sandwich, a creamy chicken tossed with curry spices & herbs that looks quite sketchy but tastes delicious. I almost died and when to heaven when Elaine brought out our tiers of homemade scones & cakes, including small macaroons and heart-shaped shortbread.
While we sat in the tea shop, Edinburgh demonstrated its penchant for highly varied weather. We had the bright sun for five minutes, then dark thunderous clouds, then 30 seconds of hail, then bright sun. I haven’t experienced this type of weather since my first few weeks here, although this time, I felt a lot more positive about it than I did back then. It felt as though the city was giving me a not-so-gently reminder about two weeks playing in the Italian sun: “You can’t run away that easy.”
Afterwards, we meandered up to the Royal Mile for the ‘Scotch Whiskey Experience,’ the Disney World of Edinburgh that rests just below the Castle walls. It included a high-tech barrel ride that reminded me of the Haunted Mansion, fit with its own Edinburgh ghost and everything. We got to learn about how whiskey is made and how it differs between Scottish regions.
All four of us picked a different type of whiskey so that we could all try, and I chose “Islay,” the roughest and smokiest of the bunch. It felt like I was drinking a cigar–and that’s putting it lightly. I’m a huge fan of Fireball Whiskey, thanks to Dad, but I think I’ll pass on all other kinds. My first drink in Edinburgh was Irn Bru + whiskey, and after being here for nearly five months, the idea of drinking that again gives me shivers.
The sun now sets around 9 pm, a wonderful saving grace from the city that used to darken at 2:30 pm. As I passed St. Giles Cathedral, I made the quick decision to go inside for a service. I’ve wanted to check out the Church of Scotland since coming but haven’t had the time. I thought I would sneak in the back and blend in easily.
Naturally, the only open seat was in the very front row, and an elderly kilted man escorted me and squeezed me in between two old Scottish men. They both generously shared their hymn books with me. I was shocked how similar the Church of Scotland (aka Presbyterianism) was to the Roman Catholic Church. It basically was a Catholic mass before Pope Benedict’s changes to the liturgy. The only major difference I could find was how we took communion. We all got up and formed a circle around the parameters of the church and passed the bread (literally bread that you rip off) and chalice around, rather than the priest individually serving you.
When I left around 9, the sun was just going down and the Royal Mile was pretty empty of people. Tourist season is roaring its head, so the ghost tours were just headed out as I rambled down the cobblestone back to the Cowgate. I felt the homesickness lighten considerably as I remembered why I chose to make this city my home and how incredibly glad that I did.
Like always, I was so happy to land back home in the ‘burgh on Saturday. My return home (touchdown in 32 days!) feels bittersweet already. I feel very ready to see Mom & Dad, snuggle with Dev & Frank, and kiss my baby kitty Carlos. The image of seeing my families for the first time makes me smile from the inside out. At the same time, my heart aches at the thought of leaving this wonderful city that has become my home. I love my life here, with its daily routines and temper-tantrum weather. I’m savoring my last four weeks in between revising (aka ‘studying’) and planning a mega-trip across the U.K. with Megan.
In the meantime, I’ll be returning to Elaine’s this weekend and probably several more times this month; St. Giles has not seen the last of me, and I will give whiskey several more go’s while I’m a) legal and b) on Scottish land. Just don’t be surprised in June when I’m crying on my Norwalk living room couch in ‘homesickness’ while downing Fireball and china-encased tea, ordering heart-shaped scones on the internet from Elaine.