Scotland. November. These two words, used on their own, conjure up sounds of rainfall and howling wind, feeling of dampness and chill in the air, visions of dark grey skies and misty mountains, cravings for hot chocolate and hearty soups. Now imagine Scotland in November. Double the misery? Believe it or not, it’s all about the right clothing (furry and water resistant) and the right attitude (sunny disposition helps but my approach is setting low expectations). So with that in mind, I headed to Edinburgh and Glasgow this weekend.
Despite the guaranteed rainy and cold weather, both cities are surprisingly charming and blissfully devoid of tourists during this least popular time of the year, which means you can enjoy strolling through castles and museums with an abundance of personal space.
See how empty it is on a Saturday! Yay, Edinburgh all to myself, including the castle!
When you get sufficiently cold and soaked through (you know it will rain at least 80% of the day), pop into a little cafe in one of the many winding streets of Edinburgh’s old town and order a huge bowl of spicy lentil soup. Like this one at Circus Cafe Bistro (8 St Mary’s St.). Trust me, it’s almost worth getting your feet cold and wet just so you have an excuse to sit indoors and savor each spoonful of piping-hot goodness. Almost.
One Scottish pastime not to be missed is hanging out at National Museum of Scotland. I am not even being sarcastic. I tend to find museums sometimes a bit on a boring side (but don’t we all?), but this has to be one of my most favorite museums ever! During my first visit in June, I never made it past the basement and the first floor. Now, on my second visit in less than six months, I conquered second and partially third floor. I am not done yet so third visit a must. I am sure you’re wondering what exactly is so special about this museum.
Well as Wikipedia summarizes it, the museum contains under one roof “…national collections of Scottish archaeological finds and medieval objects, and artifacts from around the world, encompassing geology, archaeology, natural history, science, technology and art.” Pretty much a lot of really cool stuff. The biggest asset (apart from African elephant and Tyrannosaurus rex), in my opinion, is how artifacts are presented. You’ll find yourself engrossed into short stories and fascinating facts accompanying each display as you move from Kingdom of Scots to Ancient Egypt, stopping to admire giant jaws of a sperm whale, and getting lost in Natural World gallery. I surfaced outside three and a half hours later, dazed and confused, not remembering why I was there and where I was going. Don’t miss it!
If Glasgow greets you with a sunny weather, use the opportunity to stroll through the Kelvingrove park surrounding university area and enjoy the autumn at its best.
Since you’re already there, you can’t leave without spending few hours at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. This enormous museum is similar to museum in Edinburgh in that it contains huge assortment of random objects from all around the world. You’ll find Egyptian mummies, skeleton of giant Irish elk, Salvador Dali’s “Christ of Saint John of the Cross“, and many other amusing objects.
Before you leave West End and head to the city center, relax for an hour or two in a hidden gem of a place for a pot of wholesome tea at Tchai Ovna. Tucked away at the end of a residential street, this little vegetarian cafe is best visited with a good friend or a book with a few hours to spare.
Trip to Glasgow would not be complete without visiting the medieval Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis, one of the most significant cemeteries in Europe. Don’t go there after dark.
Look, all this fun in just one short rainy weekend! Why not give it a try? ;)