4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Why giraffes are better than people.

I will admit, I was starting to get tired of all the planning.

All the books I’m reading, the lists I’m creating and editing, the online research I’m conducting, it’s a big project, and it was in danger of taking some of the shine off the appeal of doing it in the first place.

Fighting my way through hoards of excitable fourteen year-olds gawping at Harry Potter merchandise whilst shopping for gifts for my friend on a Saturday lunchtime did more to remind me why I hate people and little to reassure me that this was all worthwhile.

But, like any meaningful relationship, feelings will fluctuate. I appreciate my adventures won’t always going to be plain sailing (I don’t even like boats), and after spending a day seeing and capturing the weird and wonderful that Edinburgh has to offer, my Fogg-like desire is firmly back on track.

Edinburgh is a charming (if rather chilly) little city, its bustling streets and busy trams punctuated by quaint back alleys and a unique (and very Scottish) atmosphere. The castle is by far its most famous feature, but at £25 each for entry, one I left the die hard Japanese tourists in front to explore while I admired from afar. There are plenty of places to admire it from, too, with its hilltop central location ensuring a picture postcard view of it is never far away – a view that improves further when it’s lit up at night.

For me though, Edinburgh’s charm is in its finer details. Like the alleyway to the Writer’s Museum that’s littered with famous literary quotes etched into the cobbles, or the elegantly touching tribute to the fallen heroes and heroines of yesteryear in one of its main parks, or the Christmas market, that combines Scottish culture and cuisine with internationally themed stalls, fairground attractions and a Christmas tree maze. All of this added up to a unique experience, and even though I’ve been here before, I was still made to feel like everything was new and exciting.

And that’s what my travels next year will be all about, going somewhere and immersing myself in what the local culture provides, whether that’s watching grizzly bears catching salmon in Alaska, or exploring a ghost town in Australia, I want to see the variety of amazing sights this planet has to offer.

For now, those sights are a fairly limited collection (including a lady with a thousand piercings) but as my knowledge and experience of the world grows, I’m confident my love for it will too – although I’m still working on the people that inhabit it.

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The National Museum of Scotland provided a lesson in Scottish history, including the opportunity to get up close and personal with three Formula One cars, and the first ever speaking clock.

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Not everyone I met was as cheeky as this guy.

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Edinburghians (or whatever you call them) have a sense of humour, which I’m guessing helps them survive the winter.

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Good luck finding your way out of this maze.

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