Last weekend, I took a short trip to Edinburgh with my two friends, Colleen and Anne Penn. We took an early morning flight on Saturday, and after being in the air for only 35 minutes, we landed in Scotland!!
For those of you who are not familiar with Edinburgh, it is split into two parts: Old Town and New Town. (The names of the towns are self-explanatory) The hotel we stayed in was in Old Town, which (in my opinion) is the best part of Edinburgh. There is a street in Old Town called “The Royal Mile”, which is a mile long strip that begins with the Edinburgh Castle, and then continues downhill for about a mile. Along the Royal Mile there are tons of little gift shops and old, historic buildings. Our hotel was located along the Royal Mile, right on top of “The Mound”, which is an artificial hill in Edinburgh. Here is the Wikipedia for The Mound:
The Mound is an artificial hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, which connects Edinburgh’s New Town and Old Town. It was formed by dumping around 1,501,000 cartloads of earth excavated from the foundations of the New Town into the drained Nor Loch which forms today’s Princes Street Gardens. The Mound was officially opened in 1781. When the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway was extended to Waverley in 1846, tunnels were driven under The Mound to allow access to the west.
On our first day in Edinburgh, we dropped our bags in the hotel and headed out for the “must see” in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle. The castle was amazing! It sat upon the top of the mound, and overlooked the entire city of Edinburgh. Inside the castle walls was basically a mini city, with multiple buildings, a chapel, and even a cemetery for the royal dogs! We did a self-guided tour of the castle, and were able to explore all the different buildings. Our last stop in the castle was the room that housed the Crown Jewels! Here are some pictures:
After we finished at the castle, we went and walked around Old Town. We checked out a ton of little shops, and had some lunch in a cute, local pub. We then went and rested for a few minutes in the hotel room before heading out to dinner.
Once we were hungry enough, we set out for some dinner. Along the way, I found this store:
We ate dinner at a somewhat well-known pub, and then set out for a haunted ghost tour of Edinburgh! Apparently, Edinburgh has a pretty scary past, with lots of hangings and torture. It is home to some of the most haunted places in the world, and we went on a tour of them! Underneath the city of Edinburgh there are these old stone vaults, that are now abandoned. Many say that these vaults are haunted by those who died in them. I did not see a ghost on the tour, but it was still quite spooky and also gave me some of the history of the city!
After the ghost tour, we were quite exhausted from our full day of traveling and exploration. We decided to head back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep – we wanted to wake up bright and early to make the most of our last day!
The next morning, we woke up and headed out in search of some breakfast. I’m not sure how many of you know this, but J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter in a cafe in Edinburgh! We were able to find this cafe, and had breakfast at the table where Harry Potter was brought to life!!
After our delicious and literary breakfast, we headed towards New Town! We walked down the mound, and made our way through the newer (but still old by American standards) area of Edinburgh. Here was where we saw many big name stores, and some gorgeous old department stores.
We were in Edinburgh on 11/11, the Day of Remembrance throughout all of the UK. At 11:00 am, there was a moment of silence to honor all those who lost their lives in the wars the UK has been involved in. It was really moving to see an entire city stop in its tracks and sit completely silent for two minutes to honor the fallen. There were many places throughout the city where people laid poppy wreaths in honor of those lost as well.
For lunch, we decided to eat at The Dome, a place that came highly recommended by some of the teachers in the schools we teach in. They had told us that it was a great place to eat during the holiday time. We were in NO WAY prepared for how amazing this place was. I cannot explain how beautiful it was; the pictures and words do not do it justice.
I’m not sure if it was the food or the ambiance, or both, but our lunch was incredible. Eventually, we managed to peel ourselves away and headed back out to the city for some more sightseeing.
After walking around, we decided we needed some caffeine, so we picked out a brightly colored cafe to sit down in. As we walked up to the door, we read a sign that said this was the place that inspired Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! Our coffee was great, and we were able to read some literature about the inspiration behind the novel.
Before coming to Edinburgh, we had read online that there was a nice hike with a good view of Edinburgh that you could do while visiting. We still had some time before our flight, so we set out on in search of the hike. It was a bit steep, and definitely more strenuous than I had anticipated, but we made it to the top by twilight.
After the hike, we walked back into Old Town and got a quick bite to eat for dinner. We then stopped by the hotel, picked up our bags, and scurried down to New Town to catch the bus to the airport. Although our time in Edinburgh was short (approx. 40 hours) we managed to see a ton of stuff. I would have to say that Edinburgh is my favorite city I have visited thus far!
A final picture to sum up Scotland: