Saturday morning – Ian and I took the train from King’s Cross Station at 7am to Edinburgh. We got up early, walked like zombies to the station, stopped by Platform 9 and Three Quarters and boarded our train! I actually really liked taking the train. No long trip out to the airport, no crazy security check points and long lines. And the train was pretty empty so Ian and I got to spread out to our own rows. Plus, there were outlets so I didn’t have to worry about using my phone the whole time to listen to music and play games. I thought about bringing my computer, I think next time I would since they have wifi and its uninterrupted hours to blog, catch up on emails…and I guess do homework too.
We arrived in Edinburgh around 11am, took the short walk to the hotel where we were able to check in early. I’m glad the one we picked blindly off its rating lived up to my expectations. We were staying right next to the Holyrood Palace at the end of the Royal Mile. We wasted no time and headed out. We went to Holyrood first. This is where the Queen spends her summer. It’s most famous occupant from history is Mary Queen of Scotts who gave birth their to her only son who became the king that united England and Scotland…James VI of England and James I of Scotland. We saw the rooms where Mary Queen of Scotts stayed and gave birth. We also saw the royal reception rooms and dining room.
Afterwards we walked across the street to the Scottish Parliament. What a weird building! It know it is very new, but it is surprisingly modern looking. The wooden chairs weren’t particularly comfortable either. I didn’t know Scottish people were weird…but after seeing their parliament I think they might be….
From there we walked up the Royal Mile and went to lunch at a local place where I ate…yes..Haggis. Everyone kept talking about it before I left, asking if I would…so I had to! And it wasn’t bad. I more disliked the whiskey sauce it came with then the actual haggis.
I had printed out all these walking tours my mom sent me and we went on the first one to the south of the town. We saw Grassmarket, Greyfriars Church, the Museum of Scotland – which we went inside and it was the weirdest museum I have ever been to. Ever. And that is saying a lot. Another check point for the Scottish being weird! – We saw where Walter Scott was born, and then walked through the University of Edinburgh including the Old College – designed by Robert Adam – Nicholson Square, George Square, the Meadows – where we saw some guys playing soccer…in the freezing cold in shorts! – Terviot Place – which is a popular college hang out so we stopped for a break at Starbucks…where Ian should have told them his name instead of me since they spelled it Whitney and I think they would have figured out Ian. – George Heriot’s School, and back to Grassmarket! Which is a place of the public gallows until 1780.
From there we walked up to the Castle, and since it was closed took some pictures while there were not a ton of people on the esplanade. Then we did the Royal Mile walking tour I printed! We saw the Ramsay Garden, Castle Hill, Gladstone’s Land, Brodie’s Close, St Giles Cathedral, Cockburn Street, Canongate Tolbooth, Canongate Church – which is where the Queen and family goes to church when she is in town and also where Adam Smith is buried.
We were back by our hotel and stopped in to talk to the concierge about where to go to dinner. He gave us a few good places, but it being a Saturday night the ones we stopped in only had late tables available. We had walked by a craft beer bar and restaurant called Holyrood 9A and it looked awesome, so we walked back to that. It was right around the corner from the hotel. I could tell we were the only non-locals inside. Their menu was burgers, so no more haggis for me. The food and atmosphere was really great! A good end to the long day.
Sunday – we started out the day at Edinburgh Castle. It was pretty cold and really windy up on the hill. We got the audio tour guide, which was really great and took us a couple hours to go through all the areas of the castle. We finished right before lunch and decided to eat at the cafe on the castle for the views, the convenience and the fact that we were freezing and tired. We had hot chocolates, sandwiches and Ian had a big piece of chocolate cake.
From there we did the walking tour of New Town which is north of the castle and the Royal Mile. We saw the Royal Scottish Academy and Scotland’s National Gallery. I really liked the gallery, it was pretty small and therefore very doable. They had the typical big names of Monet and Rodin, but then also a whole section on Scottish artists and other artists I have been studying in class! From there we did a criss-cross weave of streets from Rose Street, George Street and Princes Street. We saw St John’s and St Cuthbert’s churches, Charlotte Square, Queen Street, Stockbridge – which is a whole little community by the river which had their Sunday market happening…and you know I love a good market – Then we went to Dundas Street, Broughton Street, Leith Walk, Calton Hill – which has several monuments on top including an unfinished facsimile of the Parthenon. Then we walked up North Bridge to St Andrew Square and the Scott Monument.
Afterwards we walked back up to the Royal Mile and went in just about every shop they had to find Ian t-shirts and me the perfect plaid scarf. I ended up picking the tartan of Edinburgh. We dropped our things off at the hotel…which happens to also be located at the bottom of Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat! Because we hadn’t walked enough, we decided to hike up the hill. It was the last thing on my list of what I had to see in Edinburgh and we had a few hours until the train left. It ended up being pretty great. While we didn’t walk all the way to the very top, we got pretty high and took some pictures to prove it.
Then it was time to head home. The train back was simple, had plenty of space and easy! We arrived back into Kings Cross at midnight.
Amazing weekend in Scotland…when can we go back?