Respite

Respite

I’d be lying if I said Christmas was my favourite time of year. Give me Autumn, late summer or Spring over Christmas any day because honestly, find this time of year to be the single most lonely and stressful time.

The strive for perfection I gave up on long ago but the idleness, the lack of routine and the copious amount of food, which I admit used to be a blessing just a couple of years ago, has become a source of stress and anxiety. That mixed with the weather, my non-existent sleeping pattern and the lack of socialisation (as so many of my friends have left Dublin for their homes all around the world) gives way to a path of crankiness, unfounded doubt and worry.

But today, I did something about it.

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Edinburgh

Edinburgh

When I first suggested going to Edinburgh in December, most people said ‘don’t’. They said it was miserable and dreary and yeah, at times, it was.

But I didn’t mind so much. The weather went hand in hand with the festive atmosphere that was coming to the surface at what was the first weekend of December.

The place was unbelievably busy between the Christmas markets and the many, many events the city were running. It rained a lot – the first clear day we had was on Monday, the day we left – but the atmosphere was cosy, our hotel was wonderfully warm and generous and I found that Edinburgh is the perfect size for a three-day exploration that also lent itself to daytime naps and hours-long afternoon coffee.

I spent most of my time exploring so there’s not a huge lot to say about it – the photos really say it all (and it’s photo heavy – sorry!)  – so I won’t be writing up a full itinerary but if I had to recommend a few things it would be:

  1. The Scottish National Gallery – about half the size of Dublin’s (which is already pretty small), you could do it in 20mins but is home to some beautiful Monets, Degas and some of Scotland’s own art.
  2. Victoria Street (the first photo below) – which was said to be the original inspiration for Diagon Alley. The shops are just as whimsical and chaotic as you’d imagine. It’s also home to countless Harry Potter gift shops and narrow specialist stores that are dubbed the real Olivanders and Flourish & Blotts.
  3. Edinburgh Castle – not the castle itself but the walk up to it. If you get there early in the morning, you’ll miss the crowds and get to enjoy the most famous part of the Royal Mile all to yourself complete with bagpipes, warm coffee, and cobbled roads.

But despite the crowds and the rain, Edinburgh was the best way to round off the busiest year in travel I’ve ever had (I’m talking seven cities, ten flights and infinite bus rides in ten months). I think I’ll stay at home for at least the next six years.

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