Edinburgh: a day in the life

Jessica Doojphibulpol/Staff

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The sun sets at 4 p.m. in Edinburgh, which means if you want to feel even mildly productive, waking up at noon is not an option. So naturally, I wake up at noon. Well, not quite. But I do snooze my alarm clock seven times before getting up for my 10 a.m. class. My blue duffel bag is still packed with the outfits and souvenirs from the weekend’s escapade — London, this time — and I grab a sweater from it, reminiscing through all five minutes of my walk to class. One of my favorite things is being able to leave 10 minutes before class starts and still have time to stop by the red, wooden coffee stand in George Square. The cheerful little man that runs the stand has his dreadlocks tied back in a ponytail today, and he greets me by name. I carry my newfound addiction, a cup of earl grey with milk, to class. Two minutes early.

Class is great, and my professor, who’s from Berlin and subsequently has the most adorable accent ever, spends the whole time talking about the presidential election going on back home, but I walk out of the classroom and can’t help feeling guilty for wanting to put the United States out of my mind. I meander down cobblestone streets, past crimson-painted trees, ancient stained-glass churches and a literal castle. And I find myself falling in love with them all over again. Scotland is in my lungs, and it courses through me, pushing me through the closes and alleyways toward the National Museum of Scotland.

This is another thing I haven’t quite gotten over: All the museums in Edinburgh are free. I found this out a couple months ago, when some locals decided to give the poor tourist a tour of their city. I like to think this makes me an honorary local, even though there’s miles of Edinburgh I have yet to explore. Walking through museums on rainy days is one of my favorite things to do, though, and lucky for me, it rains almost every day. (The locals have a saying: “If you can see the Firth of Forth, it’s about to rain. If you can’t, it is raining.”) But the museum is huge, and I still haven’t seen it all, so I wander into the Scottish History section, picking up where I left off.

One of my friends messages me, asking if I want to grab a pint after our Sciffy (Scifi) society meeting tonight. Apparently, Gavin knows a pub that serves butterbeer, just like the Harry Potter books. I respond “YES,” because fireplaces, butterbeer and cozy chairs have become something I never, ever want to live without. Sciffy reminds me that I should probably actually do some homework, though, and I pull myself reluctantly away from King James’ baby cradle. I’ll be back, I tell it, I promise.

I pop into Caffe Nero, where — as I carry a pot to a table in the corner — I try not to think about how much tea I drink. I bury myself in my books until an aggressive plop into the chair across from me startles me out of my studies.

“Lowkey slept through all my classes,” Nayanthi says, looking surprisingly well-rested for someone who trained back from London the night before. I laugh, making space for her and her usual coffee. We work until the light in the café begins to turn pink, gradually shifting and making room as the rest of our pleasantly exhausted travel companions join us around the tables. At 4 p.m., we take a break to watch the sky turn from gold to pink to lavender and upload ugly pictures of each other on Facebook (what else are friends for?). Shortly after, we walk home together, and I throw some pasta on the stove while I get ready for Sciffy.

Walking with my tartan scarf on the way to the society meeting, it starts to rain. Somehow, the fact that I’ve naively gone out without a hood or an umbrella doesn’t bother me. The drizzle is light, and it stops as I hurry down the steps to the classroom. No heavy downpour tonight. Scotland’s being good to me. As usual.

Contact Elena Aguirre at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @eaguirreDC.