When I found out that two of my closest friends at Drexel would be studying abroad in both Scotland and Spain at the same time I would be abroad in England, I was beyond ecstatic! The last time we were on campus together was pre-COVID, so spending a few days in Edinburgh last week with them was an absolute dream come true. We spent the weekend touring the city, eating a ton of food, and just relaxing while watching movies. Every so often it hit us that we weren’t actually hanging out at home in Philly, but in one of the most beautiful cities on an entirely different continent- a surreal feeling
We started off the weekend by visiting the Royal Mile. As the name implies, The street stretches for a little over a mile starting at the Edinburgh Castle and ending at the Holyroodhouse Palace. The street is packed with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and boutiques. There were many stores dedicated to selling cashmere scarves, coats, and skirts with the tartan pattern, a Scottish specialty! Many bakeries on the Royal Mile leave their doors open, and every time we passed one my mouth immediately watered at the scent of freshly baked pastries and the sight of fancy chocolates displayed in the window. With very little hesitation, we gave in to the temptation and tried some hazelnut cannolis and coffee at at one of the many bakeries.
Edinburgh Castle is a world heritage site that sits upon Castle Rock. Because much of Edinburgh is built on hills, you can see the castle from ever corner of the city. However, my favorite view of the castle was from the Royal Mile, where you could take in its grandeur while standing right in front of it. During the day, the grounds are filled with tourists coming in and out of the museum just inside the castle. We didn’t have the opportunity to pre-book a time slot and ticket to enter the castle, but I’ve heard about how beautiful it is inside, I’ll have to witness it for myself in another visit. The Honours of Scotland is the most popular exhibit in Edinburgh Castle where the oldest British and Scottish royalty’s crowns are on display. It’s definitely something worth visiting if you have the time!
At the far end of the mile is the Holyroodhouse Palace. The palace sits at the base of Arthur’s Seat, a scenic hike up a dormant volcano at the edge of the city. The view of the palace with the rolling hills behind it was stunning, and we visited in the late afternoon right before sunset which made it all the more scenic. Pre-booked tickets are also available for the Holyroodhouse Palace, where you can take a tour of the many dining rooms, royal bed chambers, and other spaces that are open to the public. The Queen of England actually makes frequent visits to Edinburgh and always stays at the palace! I like to think about whether the Queen is currently staying at the residence I happen to visit on each trip and if she’s watching tourists (like me!) through the windows.
Markets are very popular in Edinburgh and we visited a few throughout the weekend. The merchant’s stands varied greatly selling dog treats to candles to cheese. There’s quite realistically something for everyone. Our favorite ones were the jewelry stands, where we’d spend quite a bit of time trying on rings. I was surprised by the nominal prices which I took as a sign to buy myself a few presents. There were also many stands with fresh fruits, vegetables, jams, bread, and honey. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to stock up on weekly groceries to avoid the supermarkets while supporting local businesses. And all the shopping and perusing is sure to make you hungry, so there were plenty of hot food stands selling crepes, sandwiches, dumplings, and more!
In true UK fashion we experienced a very rainy and windy afternoon, but for us it was the perfect excuse to spend inside exploring the National Museum of Scotland. We roamed for hours through exhibits on UK history, ancient animals, fashion through the ages, and our favorite: science and technology! The three of us are majoring in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel, so of course we geeked out over the displays of circuit components, the wall of prosthetics, crystalline structures of quartz, and the history of various diseases. We started to connect everything we saw in the exhibits to specific lessons we were taught in our classes, and we were proud of how much we actually remembered. We ended up spending only about four hours in the museum but easily could’ve spent longer as there were still loads to see!
The weekend trip flew by in the blink of an eye and before I knew it, my friends were walking me up to the coach station. The memories we made on this trip will last a lifetime, and there’s nothing quite as special as exploring a brand new city with your closest friends.
A Message from the Office of Global Engagement:
The safety and security of Drexel students is a priority for the University. As part of the efforts to support Drexel students that are studying abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Global Engagement has conducted a rigorous review of programming and provided additional support to participating students with customized pre-departure orientations and regular check-ins during the required self-isolation period and the term.