The fluorescent lights of the tube station blurred together as the three of us hurried from train to train, rushing to the baggage claim to pick up our bags before it closed for the night. Leaving my companions with hugs and kisses on their cheeks, I rushed off alone to find the bus station, and my terminal for my solo journey to Edinburgh.
I looked around the tiny store in the corner of the station, decorated with gaudy colors and the paper-and-plastic wrappers of all the food. I bought two egg salad sandwiches, a large soft cookie, and two big bottles of water. They cost too much but I bought them anyways, knowing I’d be grateful later.
I fell asleep on the bus, waking up only as we lurched around curves in the road, the sky heavy with pregnant grey clouds. We barreled through stone villages and across towering needle-thin bridges, all surrounded by the lush green grass only possible in a country where rainfall is the norm.
When I finally disembarked in Edinburgh, I stared around in helpless glee. The skyline of the city was jumbled with modern buildings clustered on hills. In the central square, a park of epic proportions, a spire with black arches and points reached towards the dark sky. On a large hill, stone buildings line it, surrounding the mound on which Edinburgh Castle squats, unimposing yet sturdy, a loving father watching over his city.
Celtic crosses decorated the sides of the road, and in cemeteries, headstones collapse to fragments grown over by weeds and flowers, mausoleums cracked and broken and the grass worn away to the dirt. Trees barely flowering reached skeleton fingers towards the sky around stone so dark it looked as if it had been doused with oil.
On a mission to see the infamous Loch Ness monster, I crammed onto a bus with a load of tourists to weave out of the city through the highlands and to the lake so famed only for this mythical being, and loved, as stated by our tour guide, for some indescribable magnetism that convinces people to stay.
Though the lake itself was unremarkable, beautiful but not spectacular like the other places we thundered past, the rest of the ride presented us with spectacles of towering flat topped mountains in shades of orangey brown and black, and castles surrounded by the flowing fabric of the land stitched in every color imaginable.