Friday, September 24, 2010

Edinburgh-the Good and the Bad

We returned from our vacation this week and overall, it was a really nice trip. We spent 3 weeks in Edinburgh with a couple of excursions to the countryside in a rental car, and the trip has left me with some observations about this venerable city that can only come from hours and hours of walking the streets both major and minor; I'm one of the few people who can go on vacation and lose 5 pounds.

I was organizing notes and maps and stuff to take on the trip and I found the notes a friend had made about places to visit for our previous trip to Edinburgh in 2007. At the last minute I tossed his notes in with mine and and I'm truly glad I did because that's how I discovered Dean Village. My friends notes said "Dean Village-feels like you've stepped back in time. Will seem like you've left the city and entered a tiny ancient village". That's exactly what it felt like. It was quiet and peaceful with no traffic or tourists or shops selling cheap kilts-definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

I found my favorite shop in the city. Royal Mile Antiques sells very nice Victorian jewelry and silver and a nice selection of Scottish pebble jewelry. Hubby and I befriended the owner (making 3 purchases didn't hurt...) and we had some nice conversations about the differences between Great Britain and the states.

There were only 2 aspects of the trip that were not enjoyable. We rented a car on 2 occasions to get out of the city and visit the countryside. A right hand drive car was not an issue for Hubby; he's been driving right hand drive cars for years and was quite comfortable with it. Driving on the left side of the road, however, was another story. He told me that he had to constantly think about every move he made because it just felt so wrong. As the passenger, I must say while just driving straight down the road was OK, every time we made a turn it was terrifying. I'm not even going to tell you, faithful readers, what I think of roundabouts. I only know that if I lead a very bad life and I am consigned to an eternity in hell, it will probably be an eternity in a roundabout somewhere between Edinburgh and Stirling.

The only other complaint I have regarding Edinburgh is how difficult it was for me to cross the streets. In the small town where I live, you could stand in the middle of the main road for at least 15 minutes, maybe longer, before you see a car and have to move to the shoulder. This is not the case in Edinburgh and because the streets are not laid out in a nice, orderly grid, the cars come at you from all different directions. And they drive on the wrong side of the road. I never did figure out what direction I should be watching for oncoming traffic and therefore I stood on the side of the road trying to watch every direction at once. We were in the city with another couple and they, as well as Hubby, caught on very nicely as to how to cross the streets. This meant that time after time they would scurry across the road and I would be left behind. Even at the lighted intersections I didn't feel safe and twice I almost got hit by someone who ran the red light. Honestly-would someone from Edinburgh please explain to me how the locals know to cross a few seconds before the light actually changes?