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The sun breaks as I struggle to stay awake...

The sun breaks as I struggle to stay awake...

Since the all-too-dull return to college in September following my 3 months or more of travelling and flying roughly every third day, things have been all quiet on the travelling front. So it was with great excitement that I got up for a sneaky 48 hour trip to Edinburgh, a city I had actually initially planned to go to college in (in hindsight, I’m not entirely sure how I was convinced to go to DIT instead actually but we’ll not worry). Somewhat ironically and in spite of my recent bashing of Aer Lingus, our flight out was with no less a carrier than the shamrock-bearer itself. Now, I know this will come as something of a great surprise (potentially even catapulting some into shock) but they managed not only to leave on time but to also arrive early in Edinburgh, albeit having spent the preceding 40 minutes trying to sell both of us snacks, drinks, car rental and more ‘low-fare’ (in name only) flights – and the difference between them and Ryanair is what? An assigned seat? We even had to get off straight out onto the ground and find our own way along to the terminal. It was only as we headed outside into the cold that the sun finally began breaking through the cloud – it’s true, sometimes you really don’t need to travel a million miles from home to see something spectacular.

Good morning, Scotland!

Good morning, Scotland!

Now, for the hotel. My friend Connor very generously provided me with some magic code to use to secure a reduction in the hotel rate, which it turned out was just as well since the quoted price on arrival was £169, which is nonsense for a limited-service Holiday Inn Express hotel. That said, it was surprisingly nice, the only major caveat being that there was some sort of late-night pub, cinema and restaurant complex across the road which had been the scene of many’s a puking by a few inebriated individuals the night before. Which wouldn’t have been so bad but a few of the more artistic individuals had actually puked up against the glass of the whole complex lending it a sort of ‘museum of vom’ touch. Edinburgh itself I thought was beautiful last time, and I have to say it’s just as beautiful this time, if not more so. There’s very few places that spring to mind where the whole city is preserved perfectly and yet still functioning without issue – in a way it’s a sort of testament to the foresight of the city’s founding fathers. But enough of that nonsense, after a breakfast in Subway and a wander up to the castle (where as per usual, the admission price unfortunately restricted us from passing the kiosks), we headed around Princes Street which it’s safe to say is pretty much completely demolished owing to the construction of a tram system.

Some unusual Scottish game - kinda like someone told them last man didn't get a pint...

Some unusual Scottish game - kinda like someone told them last man didn't get a pint...

We headed next to the Edinburgh Dungeon. Rumour has it this thing is particularly scary and I have to say, although I don’t particularly scare easily, Anna has probably more of a nervous disposition and by all accounts she seemed to find it quite chilling. People jump out at you randomly all over the place, the actors really get right into your face as they scream at you and the whole place is so dimly lit, you’ve really no idea where you’re headed next. At one point everyone’s made hop into a boat for what’s hilariously one of the most suspenseful moments for no particular reason. Basically the boat goes through some toilet tissue that everyone gets a bit concerned about. Then you sit in the dark for a few minutes with the whole thing just punctuated by some strobe lighting. Then you move on again, stop and an air piston blasts some air into your face. Then you get out. But the whole combination of the dark, the empty seats in the boat and the noise makes it probably the most terrifying part of the whole thing. For us however, being as cheap as we are, it wasn’t the mock hanging, or the boat with blasts of air or even the guy with the stick screaming in Anna’s face – it was the fact that as expected, we were abruptly dumped out into an overpriced souvenir shop at the end of the whole thing.

Anna enjoys that fine-quality tartan bus seat...

Anna enjoys that fine-quality tartan bus seat...

We decided to splash out a bit in the evening too and had a pretty upmarket meal it has to be said before once again degrading to pure cheapskate behaviour and buying some cans, enjoying them and retiring to our hotel room (give me a break though, we had been up since 3am). Next morning was time to check out already and head for the Forth Bridges Bus and Boat tour. Now, having always laughed every time I saw one of those Dublin Bus ‘coastal tours’ swinging past, I felt strangely uncomfortable about becoming a passenger on the Scottish equivalent. Anyway, it added nicely to the trip and is definitely worth a go, being as good value as it is for the well over 3 hours you get. Soon enough however it was time to head back towards Edinburgh city centre for the highlight of the early evening – our trip to KFC. At this point, Anna and I have gained something of an obnoxious tradition while away of going to KFC and buying a family-sized bucket, then proceeding to try and devour the whole thing in one sitting. After a brief rundown of the menu, it was dinner time…

Edinburgh...as seen from the bus to the airport...

Edinburgh...as seen from the bus to the airport...

Half an hour, four portions of fries, eight boneless chicken breasts, two popcorn chicken portions, two corn on the cobs and 1.25 litres of Pepsi later and we were ready to move. Well that’s actually a disgusting lie to be honest, I could’ve happily sat there like a beached whale for the next 3 days but that wasn’t an option – there was a rugby scrum to get onto a Ryanair flight to take part in. So it was with great fullness and inability to walk quickly that I said goodbye to Edinburgh and promised to visit again (whenever Aer Lingus decide to subsidise a mostly empty plane to fly there again) and off we went to the airport. Now – Ryanair. They’re successful, people fly them, people hate them but they truly are an unusual bunch. The plane pulled in and we were all let on in one queue, which quickly turned into a tarmac flash-mob as everyone attempted to pile on in one motion. Having flown with them before numerous times, I wasn’t really that put out – Anna meanwhile was a bit disgusted by them letting people in the front door once we’d all opted to go for the back (I meanwhile was thankful we were just getting on). I still wonder about their bizarre one piece of hand-luggage only which just encourages squashed sandwiches for a few minutes until people get on. Anyway, 3 minutes early and we were tearing out across the tarmac and picking up pace the moment we hit the runway for Dublin…

Reformed backpacker & former ultra-cheap traveller, Andy now atones for his past by overspending on premium travel experiences and failing at making the most of the miles & points game. Based in Malaysia, he is a product manager by day, and travel aficionado by evening and weekend.