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COLUMN: Edinburgh is full of beautiful skies, crisp air and live music



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A man plays the guitar on his lap while sitting on the streets of Scotland. He was just one street musician music columnist Hannah Reed stumbled across while in Scotland. Hannah Reed Buy Photos

I looked out my train window at green hills of Scotland as the sea flitted past on the opposite side.

The man next to me leaned over and said two things to me.

“I think you may have picked the wrong seat to sit in.” Greg said, gesturing to the window across from us. “The view is over there. The sea.”

Wide-eyed and excited, I glanced out at the sea, and I said two things to him.

“Yeah, it’s nice over there.” I told him. “Not complaining about this view, though.” 

Our weekend-long Scotland field trip started out a little rough. We met at 7:30 a.m., after a bit of a late night for most of us, and found out the transportation company had double-booked our seats.

This was why, instead of a fellow study abroad student, I was on the train next to a tall man with a thick accent.

All the mishaps and tiredness were quickly forgotten when the train made its final stop at Edinburgh, Scotland. The air in Scotland was only a few degrees colder than the air in London, but it was enough to open my eyes and wake me up.

Similar to every other place I’ve been to in my life, I was on the lookout for some music. Being the tourist that I am, I was hoping for a bagpipe or two, maybe accompanied by a kilt.

I got exactly what I was hoping for and more. 

A man wearing a kilt plays the bagpipes on Scotland's streets. He was one of two bagpipe players music columnist Hannah Reed stumbled across while in Scotland. Hannah Reed Buy Photos

We walked about 15 minutes away from the train station to a hostel and were given an hour for lunch before we met up for a walking tour.

During this walking tour, I saw plenty of live music – much of which I would see more than once that weekend.

First, I saw a woman playing the harp on the corner next to a church. The beautiful sound went through my tour group as the guide explained how locals spit in a brick heart paved into the street in contempt for a nearby medieval torture center.

We walked further down the street, making our way toward the alley that inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter, and I saw what I wanted as a tourist – one of the two men I would see playing the bagpipes while wearing a kilt that day.

A man wearing a kilt plays the bagpipes on Scotland's streets. He was one of two bagpipe players music columnist Hannah Reed stumbled across while in Scotland. Hannah Reed Buy Photos

Harry Potter, kilts and bagpipes all at once in Edinburgh. I was thriving.

The sounds reverberated across the stone streets and left everyone in the vicinity feeling rejuvenated.

On the way home from the walking tour, I saw a man playing a guitar that lay across his lap. His head was bent in concentration, his fingers moving quickly as people stopped to watch him play and throw coins in his guitar case.

I took the moment in as my group quickly made its way past him on the uneven street.

The sun began to set on Edinburgh’s beautiful streets, and we made it back to the hostel and decided where to go for dinner.

After eating at a small Italian place on a corner, we decided that going back to the hostel at 8 p.m. wasn’t even on the table, and we decided to find a pub.

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This was where I saw my last, and loudest, performance during my first day in the stunning city of Edinburgh.

We stumbled across a bar called McSorley’s and figured we could pop in.

Upon entering, I saw a sign that said, “Live music seven days a week!” and my excitement grew as I ordered a beer and sat down in anticipation of the music.

Though a full day of traveling and walking left me excited, I could barely keep my eyes open. A band came on at 10:30 p.m., and I instantly perked up as it played covers of songs by bands such as Kings of Leon and Van Morrison.

It’s amazing to me how much music can change a mood, wake people up or make a gorgeous city even more stunning. The skies get a little bit bluer, the uphill climb through a busy, uneven cobblestone street becomes a breeze and the cold wind becomes a comforting push. It reminds me to continue seeing and doing new things, like going to Edinburgh, to get myself out of my comfort zone.

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