Last March, my best friend and I took our dream trip across Western Europe. We were lucky enough to spend St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, three days exploring London, a thrilling night in Amsterdam, and a hustled but thorough stint in Paris. The memories made in all of these cities were incredible and have helped shape the person I have grown into during the past year. However, all those memories pale in comparison to our adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland.
It was two days filled with driving on the wrong side of the road without GPS or map guidance, first hostel stays, and braving the underground vaults of the city. We tasted excellent whiskey and went back in time in the halls of the Edinburgh Castle, but our last morning there is a memory I hope I never lose.
After a late night of politely explaining to several Chinese girls we had befriended in the hostel that “Honey Boo Boo” and “Jersey Shore” were not how America really was, my friend and I arose groggily and devoured a breakfast of tea and lemon preserve on toast. Drawing deep breaths, we strapped ourselves into the potential death machine that was our foreign car and headed for Arthur’s Seat. Being fans of folklore, we wanted to see the mythological center of King Arthur’s Camelot. It was a cheerily sunny day but the wind was screaming in off the bay. After several missteps and one lost hat, we decided that climbing all the way to the top was probably not going to happen. Besides, we still wanted to drive by Holyrood Palace before heading south for London.
Climbing back into the Vauxhall windblown but with a little more confidence, we navigated our way to the Queen’s Scotland residence. At the gate, several guards were consulting with the car in front of us, so we waited patiently and snapped pictures. When the leading car drove through, we followed. I maneuvered the Luton-built beauty to a stop just in front of the Queen’s lovely fountain that craftily framed her gilded front doors. I waited with an excited smile for my friend to snap pictures of the Palace. This is where the Queen resided when she was here after all!
BOOM BOOM BOOM! Both my companion and I jumped at the sound of a guard banging on the trunk to signal his approach. I rolled my window down, allowing the chilled gusts entrance into our warm cocoon of travel bliss.
“What’s your business here?” the man asked in his rolling lowlander accent.
After exchanging a glance worthy of “The Office,” we managed to stutter, “To see the Palace….?”
He took a minute to visibly collect his patience with the ignorant young travelers before shaking his head and pointing us back to the gate.
“No, you need to leave. Now! This is private property.”
Rolling up the window, I gave a directive to my friend to snap a few up close (albeit blurry) photos of our accidental trespassing shenanigans. The best part of the experience was that when we were exiting the palace grounds, a group of Asian tourists frantically began taking pictures of us as if they thought we were some kind of royalty leaving our home. Sure, it was a bit startling to realize that you trespassed on ancient property of the Royal Family, but was it worth it? Without a doubt.