“True friendship isn’t about being inseparable, it’s being separated and nothing changes.”
Edinburgh Scotland would be the beginning of a beautiful reunion after two years. Celebrating nine years of friendship. Sasha and I met in school and even after her move back to Scotland, our friendship stayed strong. For this reunion, we decided to meet a little closer to her home. And to say we had a wonderful start to our reunion would be a lie.
Why you may be wondering. Well, let me tell you. I almost missed my connecting flight to Edinburgh from London due to delays from the first and Sasha’s train got cancelled. To top it off, during the 25-minute rush of getting between my flights, I had to travel to a whole separate terminal. I got a message from Sasha, who had arrived at the hotel and she told me they cancelled our reservation. So, we had no room.
As soon as I landed, I went to baggage claim. Hoping my bag made it during the quick turn over, I couldn’t handle it if my bag didn’t arrive. It did. I caught the tram in from the airport and it felt like one big rush. We were staying at the Mercure Edinburgh City Princes Street Hotel. After a full day of travelling, we were looking forward to getting to our room and relaxing, but this wasn’t going to happen.
The payment was never taken for our prepaid room, so they cancelled our room, without notifying us that payment was never received. We booked seven months in advance, so there was plenty of time to tell us and resolve it. Instead of contacting us, they cancelled our room. You can only imagine how angry we were.
Special thanks go to Sasha’s dad who let us put a hold on his card until I got there with the correct card to pay. This way we would have a room for the night until we paid. We had many questions that we wanted answering. So as soon as I arrived, I went to the reception and what horrifying experience this was.
As you could imagine, we were beyond annoyed. We wanted answers and all we received was terrible service and a bad attitude. Our main concern was why we were never notified of the card declining and cancellation. Instead, we were belittled and told it was all our fault and that they, Mercure, have done nothing wrong.
We went around in circles for about 20-25 minutes and before that Sasha spent 45 minutes trying to get answers before I arrived. When we came down we were hoping to speak with the manager, since Sasha was treated dreadfully by reception when she first arrived. The receptionist wasn’t going to let this happen. All we wanted was for him to give the managers name so we could come back but he wasted all our times.
Our questions weren’t answered, we were spoken to awfully and we never got an apology for the inconvenience. He threatened to call the cops on us for being persistent and asking question that made him “uncomfortable”. Not sure how but isn’t that customer service at its finest. We did finally get the name of the manager who was in the next morning. So having done as much as we could for the night, we left for dinner.
We braved the Edinburgh cold and went on the hunt for dinner and a much-needed drink. A strong one. Those who know me, know I don’t resort to alcohol, even in stressful times, but this time I needed it. What a day. This was our first evening together in two years and it was time to get those holiday vibes back.
Our first morning in Edinburgh we started with talking to the manager. We knew she would be ready to defend her staff and after hearing only his side it made sense. This we expected but we did not expect to be treated in the same manner as her staff did the night before. After hearing our side and us explaining our frustration; the system failure and now the lack of customer service, she came around. A little.
She told us she would have to speak with the receptionist who we dealt with. And she was true to her word. When we returned back to the room later that day, and we had a lovely bouquet of flower a bottle of processco waiting and an apology letter. There is a lot to this story, it stems a lot deeper than a complaint and some words. This is only the cliff notes version. If I had to re-tell the whole thing again, I would need another drink.
After our talk with the manager, we left for breakfast and we could begin enjoying our reunion knowing full well, this is just another story to add to our encyclopedia-sized book of memories and something we will laugh about. It was one memorable beginning
We walked the streets lined with dark gothic-like buildings. Walking over and under bridges. Bridges that crossed over roads and river. We looked around for a place to have some breakfast and we did find somewhere, in possibly the best place. Its location, the street that inspired Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, Victoria street. This is only my dream. The street, lined with bright stores, like the ones described in the books and seen in the movies. The buildings not quite as high or crooked and they don’t sell the same sort products but it did feel as magical.
The road is slightly uphill and has a bend to it. The stores along this street are the kinds that make you want to zig-zag across the roads looking in them all. Joke and costume stores, shops that are connected with the ‘spooky’ history in Edinburgh, along with cafes and street foods. Many of the stores are Harry Potter merchandise stores, as expected and most shops have signs at the front stating, J.K Rowling has not been here.
I guess people are curious?
At either end of the Diagon Alley Inspiration road, there are two main areas of Edinburgh. Greyfriars Kirkyard and Lawnmarket which, if you go onto Lawnmarket street this was will take you up to Edinburgh Castle. I loved walking up there. Surrounded by shops, some so beautifully decorated and tourists surrounding us. It felt like every second store was selling kilts and other tartan items of clothing.
Walking up the hill between the dark building, surrounded by people, the bagpipes sounding and the tartan pattern around felt… very Scottish. In many of the streets, you are “blessed” with the sound of bagpipes. The sound coming from shops and some playing live. The committed performer in a full Scottish get-up. Hearing the tunes in the street added an extra Scottish feel which I enjoyed. For the first couple of hours but I must say after hearing them for some time, all the time. I have now come to realise; they aren’t my favourite instrument.
We walked up Castle Hill reaching Edinburgh Castle. Well, we went to enter the castle but Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, a five-storey attraction filled mind-boggling illusions caught our eyes. We entered the building and left two hours later. We had the best time, constantly laughing and amazed.
Our first night we went on Comedy Horror Show: Edinburgh Ghost Bus Tour. Which we found out about along Lawnmarket street and what a laugh. In Edinburgh, there are lots of ghost tours and tours on offer, but this was the one that took our fancy. And we are so glad we did it. It was the best way to tour the United Kingdoms most haunted city. Not only do you get to sightsee, but you get wonderful performance.
The start of our next and final full day in Edinburgh we booked our tickets for a comedy show. The show would finish off our crazy busy day. First; food and then Edinburgh Castle. As wonderful as the castle is and large. It was a bit overpriced; they have taken advantage of the tourism linked to Edinburgh Castle.
Although once you are in, the museums and exhibitions are free. The castle gave a wonderful insight into the history of the castle, the royals and Edinburgh as a whole.
After the castle, we had intended to go whisky tasting but we lost track of time. We had to skip this to make our booking for karaoke. The karaoke was supposed to be the night before, while we had few drinks in us. But there were no rooms, so we booked the room for the next day…… at 3:00 in the afternoon. Who does that? tipsy people, that’s who. So, before we went to our booking at Supercube. We went and had a few drinks to get in the mood because this wasn’t an activity for the sober. So, we sat at TGI Fridays and downed their strongest drink and a shot.
It worked; we spent the full three hours singing in our private room. It was then a quick costume change for dinner and the comedy show at The Monkey Barrel. Let me tell you. Non-stop laughing. We had four acts and they were all a good laugh. Some people I didn’t understand because of the thick accents but I caught on. We also made friends with the couple next to us and we did some serious people-watching during the breaks. Some people can’t handle their drinks.
I enjoyed Edinburgh so much, I do not think this will be the last time I visit. When I do return, more comedy shows and more exploring the magical streets and lushes’ parks are on the agenda.
Our Saturday, was a travel day, from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I wasn’t sure what to expect in Glasgow. Sasha had given me an idea but I still wasn’t sure. The city is like most, a concrete jungle with the main shopping strip and lots of people. I’m sure it has a great history, but we weren’t there long enough to explore it. We also arrived on Star Wars day, May the Fourth so there were lots of “characters” out and about. Lots of comic stores had events on so there were lots of people dressed up. Although Glasgow seemed to be filled with “characters” regardless of the day.
Our first night was a big night out. Drinks, drinks, drinks. We immersed ourselves in the nightlife of Glasgow. It was originally intended to be drinks and dinner, you know, keep it classy. It ended at four on Sunday morning after pre-drinks, dinner and dessert with drink, then a karaoke bar and a club. Best night ever. This was also mine and Sasha’s first clubbing experience together. She moved before turning 18, we had just finished high school so we had not yet done the whole clubbing thing. Our first reunion in 2016, in Majorca and London we went to bars, but it’s just not the same.
After our night/morning out, you probably get how energetic we were on our final day. Our day pretty much consisted of shopping and eating. Oh, and getting lost. I did enjoy the main street in Glasgow so many shops to see and people to look at. The street filled with people and my favourite part was all the buskers. There is some much talent in Scotland, from bagpipers to singers.
Scotland is a true beauty. Edinburgh and Glasgow were so different, both so unique. Just like my friendship with Sasha. Being together over the weekend and reflecting on our friendship and reliving old stories was the best part. And even though we hadn’t seen each other for two years. It didn’t feel like any time had passed at all.
I could see all the places on the globe, have all the money in the world and everything I could possibly dream of having. But our friendship and our time together would not equate to any of it. I am beyond lucky and grateful to have a friendship so wonderful.
This isn’t the last time I will be in Scotland. I’ll be returning in June, which is when I will see Sasha again. So, our goodbye won’t be too sad.
Until then, there is still so much to see and do. Next stop Nice.