10 September 2013
First vista: Calton Hill
So here I am. Edinburgh. That's my street in the picture above, although about a block down from where I live. This part is generally closed to traffic except for service vehicles, so it's easier to get out and snap a photo.
I took a hike to Calton Hill, which is on the other end of the Royal Mile from where I am. In case you're wondering, the Royal Mile is essentially a short string of streets that stretch from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. Just north of the eastern end of the Royal Mile is Calton, consisting of one of the city's major parks, Calton Hill, and various gardens and burial grounds. It's a bit of a hike up the hill (nothing quite like Arthur's Seat, though, which I hope to see soon), and I didn't have very good shoes on, but it was a gorgeous day, so I managed to take a few snaps. My calves are a little sore today!
On the way up, along Calton Road, there are a number of panels, some temporary, with some quite good street art. Couldn't help myself:
A bit of the street art, above, in context, and behind that ugly hole in the ground is Canongate Kirk. And behind Canongate Kirk is Arthur's Seat, part of Holyrood Park. A bit of outdoorsy hiking in the middle of the city!
I found myself drawn to the pops of burnished red that some buildings in the city are painted.
The views from Calton Hill are lovely. The photo above wasn't necessarily my favorite shot, but I was amused by the guy in the bottom right corner who was hanging out on the roof for a few minutes. I think he was meant to be fixing the window, but he seemed a bit more content to just sit outside on the plank. I can't really blame him!
I stumbled upon what appeared to be a popular drinking spot. At least I know one can buy Bud in the UK. ;)
From one direction I could see down Princes Street, a major thoroughfare with much shopping and several hotels. In other directions I could look out over the Forth of Firth.
Overall, it's been an amazingstressfulexcitingfuncrazylong three days. I still don't feel exactly "settled in," but I'm starting to understand my immediate neighborhood--where all the shops are, where the university buildings are, etc. I always feel better knowing where things are, and that I can find them easily. And even though I have been to the UK before, there's always so much to get used to (again). Aside from currency and Centigrade and driving on the opposite side of the road, there are brand new stores to get to know, prices , branding, taxes, when to tip (and when not to tip), bus routes, mobile phone networks, bank accounts, recycling and rubbish disposal, health service, etc. The list goes on and on, not to mention the first meetings and seminars for school at a university you've never visited! Well, that's how it is for me, anyway.
This week is not very busy, but there is plenty going on. On Thursday, I have compulsory meetings with the Edinburgh College of Art most of the day, but much of my other time is free until classes begin. There are many social activities set up through my hall of residence since the vast majority of students living here are from outside the UK. So far, I really enjoy where I live, and I have to admit that after walking around the part of campus where undergraduates rule, I'm glad that I'm no longer in that phase of my education. :) I like being a part of it sometimes, but able to escape to somewhere else at others. So far, my situation is ideal! We'll see if my opinion alters as time goes by...
This city can be a little tricky to get around, like many UK cities. There's a little bit of a joke about it being one of the only cities where you can get lost vertically as well as horizontally, due to all the hills and levels (some streets have two!)... Not very much of Old Town is set up in any sort of grid, partly because it's built around hills, and partly because it's just old. The newer parts of the city can sometimes seem at least a bit more organized. I've looked at maps... a lot. I love maps; they're so helpful!
I've been so busy trying to get myself situated, and getting to know some people, that I haven't taken much time to walk about with my camera aside from this trip to Calton Hill. So I'm glad that I could get the opportunity to do that.
There will always be more to come!