Edinburgh Part 2: End of Week 3

Some quick impressions and observations from week 3 of our slow travel visit to Edinburgh, Scotland

So we are at the end of week 3 in Edinburgh. About 4 weeks remaining on this trip. Some quick impressions and observations.

Cozy evenings at "home"

We were lucky with our apartment selection. It’s spacious and very comfortable. The kitchen is decently equipped. Very quiet, especially at night in the bedroom which is in the rear away from the street. Watching TV the other night, relaxing on the couch, we realized it’s remarkably like home. It didn’t feel at all like we were halfway across the world. Very nice and stress-free.

However, at the same time, after a few weeks, you start thinking that it would be great to be back home. Back where everything is set up the way you want it, and you have access to everything you need to support all of your routines. For example, my work desk at home has two 32-inch 4K monitors and a very comfortable office chair. Having to make do with some 15 inch HD monitors at the kitchen table is much less comfortable and productive, especially after sitting on a kitchen chair for a few hours. Not having access to small day-to-day conveniences that you take for granted at home reminds you that you are away.

Oh, you again... Time for dinner?

We miss our dog. A 10-year-old female Havanese. She is a bit of a cranky old lady who usually behaves like she could take us or leave us, but we like having her around. She is visiting with relatives, and has been reported to be having a great time.

We also miss contact with friends, but using WhatsApp for video calls and text chats, other than the time difference, is just like being at home. Text messages appear as immediately overseas as they do when coming from the other side of town.

After a few weeks, you become very comfortable with the surrounding area. The route to walk to grocery stores or other places is completely familiar. With that comfort and familiarity you also begin to notice things that you passed over in previous journeys around town. A quirky store, a small restaurant, an amazing looking house that you didn’t notice before.

Train station in Stirling, Scotland

We took the train yesterday from Edinburgh to Glasgow. We love European trains. Very comfortable way to travel between cities. Went to some museums, and had lunch, then headed home. The flat we rented feels like home after a few weeks. At the end of a long day you close the door, drop your coat, grab a beer from the refrigerator, and lean back on the sofa. Much different than a hotel. More like home.

Feeding yourself on a slow trip like this takes planning. Our refrigerator is loaded with various foods from nearby markets and grocery stores. The kitchen isn’t quite enough equipped to cook the way we do at home, so we scaled down our ambitions regarding the meals we can cook. Only buy the main spices we use for cooking, eliminate anything that requires too much preparation or too many ingredients. Salmon with a baked potato and vegetable is easy. A full beef stew with lots of ingredients gets more complicated. You don’t want to buy a bag of flour for just one or two meals. So you think about how to simplify. Breakfasts are simple. The stores even have the small cans of British-stye baked beans to enhance a breakfast. Lunch is usually something easy to get when you were out of the house. Dinners can become a mix of home meals and restaurant meals.

An off-the-shelf veggie pizza from Marks & Spencer Food Hall. Actually tastes pretty good.

One of the grocery stores here (Marks & Spencer Food Hall) has a big selection of premade meals. They look fine in the packages, but are generally unremarkable. Edible, but not something you would seek out if you were home. After a few weeks you find out which meals are edible and which ones to not purchase again. Kristen loved the roast chicken meal kit, that came with vegetables and other sides. I’ve gotten some nice salmon, and surprisingly good packaged pizzas that I doctor up with some additional toppings.

After a few weeks, the wanderlust abates a bit. If you have a comfortable apartment, relaxing in the evening and reading, we’re watching television is fine. If we were in a hotel, we would want to be out in the city all day and spend a minimal time in the room. But we have found ourselves to be happy staying in and enjoying a rainy morning, sitting in the kitchen by the large windows, browsing the Internet.

Though sometimes we do feel guilty sitting in the living room in the middle of the day, not really feeling like going out to explore. It can take a bit to get over the thought that you are wasting valuable time by relaxing in the living room. But when you are somewhere for weeks or months, there’s always tomorrow to go out and engage with the location.

Waiting for the concert to begin

We went to see our daughter perform in a choir concert the other night in a 500-year-old church. Another night we went to a pub quiz in the Grassmarket area with some friends who live in Edinburgh. Going to dinner at their house tonight. Planning to meet at a jazz club to listen to an open jam session in a few days. Scottish jazz?…Getting more in sync with life in the city.

We’ve spent a few weeks in Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands in the past, so we’ve seen many of the main attractions. On this trip, we’re here long enough to dig a bit deeper and visit some places that have a lower profile, but are still compelling. The Georgian House museum is only a few blocks from our apartment in New Town. A day trip to Stirling Castle. And a lot of long walks outdoors, along the waters of Leith, the [lower half!] of Arthur's Seat, or just wandering through town. I’ve been catching a bus to get dropped off two miles or so away, in an area that looks interesting, and then walk back. Edinburgh is a pretty compact city, so exploring via walking is viable.

A typical weather forecast for March/April in Scotland.

The weather has gotten a bit better over the last weeks. We are very happy about that. Finally some sunshine. We hope it lasts.

Let’s see what the upcoming weeks bring. Stay tuned.

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