Honestly, Monday was a blur mostly spent napping, porch sitting, attempting to track our bags, and finally mustering enough energy to venture out around Stockbridge.
On June 30th we arrived in Edinburgh after a 7 hour night time flight that resulted in lost luggage. I was giddy over our first double decker bus ride and left hand traffic circle. All the houses in a row with their patio gardens lined the main road to the airport. Closer to town, it was surreal seeing buildings that are hundreds and hundreds of years old that have been painted bright purple and now house tanning salons or Domino's Pizza. We finally caught a cab from Haymarket Station (Edinburgh's second largest railway station) and zoomed over the cobblestones and around three circuses until we reached our final destination completely jet lagged.
We finally got to meet Pat and Kenneth, Alex's grandmother's cousins, after months of talking to them and arranging our trip to Scotland. They were so warm and welcoming and helped us tremendously with getting settled since our bags were somehow still in NYC. We talked with them for a bit in their reading room before they got us hooked up on their WiFi to try to start the process of tracking our luggage. Kenneth is Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh and Pat worked in upper level schools. They were both very used to hosting people around our age despite theirs. During our trip we talked a lot about the differences in education in the US and the UK and let me tell you-- it was just so refreshing to have an intelligent conversation with people on the same wavelength. They showed us to our room at the basement level and we quickly fell asleep for a long nap.
When we woke up we met Anna, the dog who only eats carrots. She was a sweet young pup that still looked at you longingly like you're her new best friend and eternally in love. She and Kenneth took daily walks with Alex around Queen Street Gardens. One of the many private gardens in Edinburgh, Queen Street Gardens services the capital's New Town. It is actually a magical escape from the city. Don't believe me? It's one of the sources of inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Seriously, though... Private gardens. I'm all about that life.
By that time we decided we'd had enough of being tired and moping around so we pushed ourselves to get out and explore. We walked through Stockbridge down Raeburn Place, wandered off a bit around the Water of Leith, and ended up near Inverleith Park, the Edinburgh Academicals Sports Ground, and Comely Bank. Pat and Kenneth let us use their downstairs kitchen so we went out in search of groceries. We immediately fell in love with Scotmid, a co-operative store that had tons of delicious items at a really cheap price (even by American standards and with the exchange rate). My guilty pleasure was a sack full of chocolate croissants that only cost a few pounds. Take that Starbucks! We also had to get a few essentials for making it through without our bags like deodorant, toothbrushes, all that fun stuff!
After a bit of shopping and exploration, Pat and Kenneth treated us to dinner at a place called Bistro Moderne (which has since closed). They had never been before but used to frequent the place that housed No. 15 NW Circus Pl before. This was our first experience with still vs sparkling water. I think we were brave and had some of both but mostly we drank lots and lots of white wine. Thank you, Pat, for treating me to a bottle of Sauvingnon Blanc with every meal we shared! I had the most delicious sea bream with creamy risotto, bread and oil, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. It was the most perfect welcome to our new favorite city.