I didn’t know what I thought it would be like to return ‘home’ after having lived abroad but this was one of the best weekends in a long while! Even though I had been back to the UK for a week over spring break, this was the first time I was going to be returning to Scotland in the almost eleven months that I had been away.
I had originally booked to return home after I heard that the stage production of the ‘Room’ would be coming to Dundee. After having spent months devising a design concept for a stage adaption of this novel for my dissertation, I was adamant that I was going to see it, so I booked tickets for myself and one of my best friends Nicole to see it. (If you are interested in reading about my dissertation or my review of the stage production, please head over to my dissertation blog by clicking here.)
And when you’re going all that way you might as well make a weekend of it, so that’s what we did!
I was greeted by Nicole as I walked into arrivals at Edinburgh airport. I waved like mad as her Mum’s car pulled up into the pick up point. Her parents have been nothing but kind to me since I became friends with Nicole and have become like family to me too, so it was great to see them both again. It was quite late when we arrived back at their house, but we still sat up chatting for a good hour, drinking tea and munching on millionaire shortbread (Nicole and her Mama are amazing bakers!)
The next day we were heading off to Dundee. We got the train into the Edinburgh Waverley, passing the Musselburgh station which is directly outside our old university and I felt a surge of excitement just seeing the building. (What on earth was I going to be like seeing the city centre again?!) We ended up running for the next train to Dundee so I didn’t have too much time to be excited about being in Waverley Station again. I wasn’t disappointed for too long though when we began to see some of Scotland’s incredible beauty out of the train window and then crossed the Forth Bridge making me feel at home again.
We met my parents, brother and dogs in Dundee and we spent a short while wondering round the city centre. As my brother has been a fan of the Dandy and Beano comics for many years, we couldn’t not visit the statues of Desperate Dan and Minnie the Minx which are a popular tourist attraction for the area. We spent a long time trying to get Charlie (our oldest Border Collie) to sit next to the statue of Desperate Dan’s dog, so that we could recreate it, not with the help of Jake (our other Collie) who just wanted to join in too.
We then strolled down the river before heading to lunch at The Beer Kitchen at Tay Square. The best thing was that they allowed dogs, so as well as having a great meal, the boys got fussed over by all the staff too!
Just across the road from the The Beer Kitchen is The Dundee Rep Theatre, which is where we headed for the evening to see the stage adaption of Room, directed by Cora Bissett. It was one of the greatest pieces of theatre I have ever seen and if there is any chance it comes to theatres again, I encourage everyone to watch it. At the end of the play, I also had the chance to meet the adorable Kathryn Joseph who, along with Bissett, wrote the music for the piece. (Please click the link above to find a review.) It was a wonderful first day back in Scotland, but I was excited to start exploring the capital again!
On the Sunday, we caught the bus into town and again I marveled at the views out of the window of Portobello Beach. As the bus pulled into town I could barely contain myself as I caught sight of the Scott Monument and Princes Street (which is a funny thing to get excited about considering for most of the time that I lived there, I hated battling the tourists to get down the main shopping street in Edinburgh on my way to work.) It felt so strange to be coming back to the city I had called home for four years. I had lived in a few places up until I went to university, but there’s something about Edinburgh that just draws you in. It is full of so much culture, great food and wonderful people.
Speaking of great food, a new (well I say new, it just wasn’t there when I left) cafe called Coro had cropped up on Frederick Street. Known as ‘The Chocolate Cafe’ we headed in and had the most amazing waffles and pancakes I have ever seen/tasted/smelt.
I mean, waffles with cream, white chocolate and fruit and pancakes with melted chocolate, ferrero rocher ice cream and oreos; what more could you want?!
We had to burn off all that food somehow, so we spent the rest of the day wandering round the city. One of my favourite parts of Edinburgh, has to be the Royal Mile. Starting from the top this is the road that takes you from Edinburgh’s Castle and leads all the way down to Hollyrood Palace, passing places such as The Scottish Government, various ‘closes’ (many of which are incorporated into the various Edinburgh ghost tours) and John Knox’s House. There is something really special about it, especially when you’re allowed to be a tourist! It’s bustling with people; going on tours, taking pictures with the castle, exploring the museums and shops, people in costumes, people playing music and when it’s warm there are loads of great little bars, restaurants and pubs with outdoor seating meaning the Mile comes alive even more with the sound of chatting and laughter. In August it comes alive even more, as this is the main street for flyering and advertising shows during the Fringe Festival. It is almost impossible to walk down due to the sheer number of performers, musicians, tourists and people trying to advertise their shows. You’ll end up walking away with a handful of leaflets (it’s good courtesy to take one), but also some great photos and maybe even some food from one of the food trucks.
That evening we had dinner at my old workplace TGI Fridays on Castle Street. It was so wonderful to see everyone that I used to work with and to have a laugh. It felt as if I had never left. Up until now Fridays is by far the best place I have ever worked. Not due to the work itself, but because I had the best group of people around me who were always, and I mean always, up for a drink after work. After dinner we went to the pub downstairs for a drink and then onto the club that somehow we’d always end up at. To say it felt like old times is an understatement!
On my final day in Edinburgh, we decided to head to Portobello beach. We spent the whole day just chilling on a blanket, listening to music, sipping cider and eating ice-cream. We caught up with everything going on in each others lives and then splashed about in the sea (I only intended to go in up to my ankles, but as soon as a wave came my jeans were soaked so just wandered in anyway!) I have lots of great memories at this beach as it was just down the road from our fourth year flat at uni, but we also filmed a project there and it was one of the first places I took my friend Hayley when she came to visit from Canada. It was another wonderful day in Edinburgh, but now it was time to pack up and head back to Vienna.
All in all, it was an amazing trip back to Scotland for the first time. It came just at the right moment and provided the perfect break from the stress of work. It felt wonderful to return to a city I knew well, in which I experienced so many milestones in life and which has given me so many wonderful memories. (Plus it was a massive bonus being fluent in the language!!)
Now, I am starting to adapt to a new city, just like those early days in Edinburgh. It has done wonders for me so far and I just know I will make some wonderful memories there too (and I’m working on the language barrier!!). So whilst it was amazing to return to my favourite city, I was ready to return to the city that has quickly become a close second!
Photo credit for the above photo and those in the heading goes to Nicole and her swanky new iPhone with it’s portrait mode. My photos (from my old Samsung) were, in comparison, pretty shit.