The real solo trip begins now. I woke up really early and headed to the station to catch my train for Edinburgh. I had chosen the station carefully, because I knew that I would probably not go there specially. It was none other than the famous King’s Cross station, mentioned often in the Harry Potter books. And obviously I did visit Platform 9 3/4. The good thing is that I didn’t go there with any expectation, which was a good idea. It’s just a cart half rammed into a wall, but it’s still so cute when you see it. The sad part is when you’re alone and have to wait for another stranger to come along and ask them to take a picture. You really can’t be your silly self and pretend like you literally ran and got smacked in your face when you hit a wall. So for now, I got a very nice smiling, holding a cart, all princess like photo. Though I have to say, I really thought a stuffed owl inside the cage would have been a nice touch, but that’s just me.
One thing I must mention is the beauty of the mornings. I am not a morning person, but sometimes the sky just looks at you and smiles in the morning. With the right track in your ear, the right shadows, the right light, the structures in London or any place really, look exquisite. The station didn’t disappoint. The clouds hovering above, the reflections in the window panes. I stood and watched for a bit. There are these moments that you need to just stop, stand and look up and smile. That one is a must. You have to smile.
Like always, I got to the station well in time. I went in got my tickets and ate once again from a Pret A Manager store. The one thing which is consistent in London for me, has been this store. It’s a great place which is budget friendly if you want a sandwich, coffee and maybe a little cookie to help you through the day. I was told that the food on the train can be expensive, so it was better to carry your own. I think everyone was told that, because once we were off, everyone took out something or the other and started munching.
The train station, you never imagine something to be so beautiful unless you witness it through your own eyes. The King’s Cross Station has to be one of the prettiest stations I have ever seen. I have seen that UK seems to have a thing with clocks. They remind you of the era long gone by. The amalgamation of the old and the new is so seamless. You look up and you see these arches, you look to the left and you see a Starbucks. It’s wonderful really.
*Another tip – Try and book in advance. In UK you can usually book up to 3 months in advance. If you buy the ticket on the day of travel of day before they can be three times the cost. I booked my ticket for 55£, while on the day of travel, out of curiosity I checked, it was at 95£ for standard class. I didn’t bother checking first class. Though first class gives you access to food, drinks and wi-fi – so if that’s your thing, go ahead. In standard class you get 15 minutes free wi-fi after which it is a paid service.
On the train it is advisable if you have large luggage to put it at the designated spot marked as soon as you get on. The smaller carry on luggage can be placed on top of your seat. I did see some people put larger luggage on top of their seats, but the people below were clearly uncomfortable knowing there is half a suitcase with its wheels dangling in the air overhead. My advice would be to refrain from doing that, it is frowned upon.
In the four hour journey, I spent my time checking what to do in Edinburgh. I had also finished the book I was reading, the previous night. So I thought, I would do something I have been wanting to do for a while. It’s part of the #payitforward concept. I have this thing I used to do a while ago. I used to go around Mumbai in public transport writing post its daily. So for this trip, I carried my post its along, so I can try and do the same thing. So I wrote a post it note and left it in the book marked to whoever finds it. I hope someone finds the book and enjoys it.
After a quick nap, I arrived in Edinburgh to a bright sunny day. I got off the Waverly Station. Now, if you are the kind of person who would like to do city tours and would be using a lot of public transport, I would advise you to pick up daily or 3 day passes bus passes depending on the time you have in Edinburgh and book your tours at the station shop.
Since I had direction from my hostel on how to get to them, I followed those, till I got lost because GPS doesn’t understand the steps in the city. The thing to do here is to find the nearest shop name and try and get directions from that instead of waiting for the GPS to figure where you are through your location. I did manage to reach my hostel climbing 50 odd steps only to find I could have just walked up a slightly hilly road with a suitcase which has wheels as opposed to carrying it. Out of breath, confused because my GPS was hanging, I managed to figure out where I had to go and got there in 30 minutes from the station when it should have taken me half the time. Thankfully my check in time was 1:00pm and I reached at 12:50. Well done. Like always, I was before time.
The rest of the day, to follow.