After a day and a half of travel from Salt Lake City to Edinburgh, we arrived exhausted to a very brisk evening at the Waverly train station. We found a cab big enough for us, my wheelchair, and all of our suitcases. When we arrived at our wonderfully wheelchair accessible hotel (Lochend Serviced Apartments), we laid out all of our suitcases in the front room, sent out an email of our arrival to our families, and crashed. Fortunately, it was off season so they provided us with a private room on the ground floor. It was not wheelchair accessible (many steps to get to the front door, small restroom) but it was manageable as most hostels are this way. The next day, the rush to find a flat began. It took longer than we expected to find a flat, so we moved into a private room hostel (Argyle Backpackers) to conserve our financial resources, uncertain how long it would be until we found a home.
After two weeks of sharing the restroom and kitchen with 40 other travelers, and worriedly searching for a home in Edinburgh, we have finally moved into our quaint little home for the next few months on Broughton Road. It is a 30-minute walk to and from the Parliament everyday, which should be good exercise for AJ and me. Most importantly, it meets our basic requirements: ground floor and wheelchair accessible. To our pleasant surprise, a fully furnished flat includes kitchenware as well. We’re also right next to a supermarket and a bus stop that goes directly to the Parliament.
In the process of looking for a home, we wandered around Edinburgh and are coming to love the "busy" city already. There are people here from all parts of the world, both residents and tourists. There are many cute little shops and cafés all around. We stopped into a café and got their specialty sandwich with included peanut butter and bacon. Heart attack! We have learned many major roads and have seen many historical land marks along the way. It also helps that we work at the Parliament along the Royal Mile, right next to the Queen's Gallery and Holyrood Palace. It's also beautiful to see Arthur's Seat right behind of the Parliament every single day. Everything in Edinburgh is accessible by walking and busing, which is very convenient, but not the easiest to go up steep hills in a wheelchair. We have the option of riding the bus to work everyday, but I think we're going to take the challenge of walking everyday until the cold sets in. This will allow us to see more and I can't wait.
Work at the Parliament has been very interesting and exciting. I’m learning so much more about the Scottish National Party (SNP) and my Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), Colin Beattie, who is a funny person. His assistant, Alyson is also so very nice and helpful to me. And they’ve been so accommodating, physically. I appreciate it so much! Everything is so new to me that even simple tasks are exciting to me. I’m sure it will wear off over time but I’m trying to enjoy it as much as possible. I’ve been writing press releases, congratulatory letters, emails, responses to constituents, researching, attending meetings, etc. Political/Public Health stuff.
In addition to the excitement, I received my parliamentary staff badge this week, so no more having to go through security!
AJ and I have planned out some trips around Edinburgh, Scotland, and continental Europe over the time that we are here. We hope to go on an adventure, both big and small, every week while here (and tend to our school tasks, too). I look forward to the time that we’re here and hope to make the most of it. Welcome to Edinburgh!