Greetings! Our next adventure took us to Edinburgh, Scotland for a few days. For those of us who are pronunciation-challenged Edinburgh is pronounced E-din-burrah. Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. We took the train up, which took about four hours in total. One could also drive to Edinburgh via the A1. I'm a fan of the trains, so I will always choose the trains over driving! The train ride was quite scenic. On the ride up we stopped in Durham and Newcastle, which both looked like really cool cities to visit. The train paralleled the shore as we crossed over to Scotland and we had some fantastic views of the North Sea. The topography in Scotland was much different than in England. Scotland definitely had more dramatic landscapes and was much hillier than anything we have seen in England so far.
We had quite a bit packed into the few days we were there, so I will probably break out each major site separately. Our first day, we went to The Royal Yacht Britannia. The second day we went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. And on the third day we went to Edinburgh Castle. Here I will focus on our exploration of the city of Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the second most populous city in Scotland the seventh overall most populous city in the United Kingdom. Edinburgh has been recognized as the capital of Scotland since the 15th century. The earliest human habitation of Edinburgh has been dated back to 8500 B.C. Enough of the history lesson, let's get on to more exciting things!
After arriving, we had a 20 minute walk from the station to our hotel. We stayed at the The Terrace Hotel in Edinburgh. The hotel is on Royal Terrace and was designed by William Playfair around 1820. Royal Terrace connects with Regent Terrace and Calton Terrace to form the longest continuous building of Georgian architecture in Edinburgh. Our room was quite spacious and we had a beautiful view of the gardens at the hotel. The location of the hotel was great for getting to all of the different sites on our list and near restaurants. It was definitely a quieter part of Edinburgh, which I enjoyed. The breakfast at the hotel was good and the staff were very friendly (it was a family run hotel). From the hotel, it took about 20 minutes to get to most of the sites. The only time we didn't walk was to get to the yacht which was at Ocean Terminal. For that, we used Uber, which was fantastic. We had great experiences with Uber drivers in Edinburgh. We also could not have gotten nicer weather during our trip.
Terrace Hotel: https://www.terracehotel.co.uk/index.php
View from room
View of the North Sea from Leith Docks
We were able to get to several famous Edinburgh sites. The first full day we were in Edinburgh we had tickets to Palace of Holyroodhouse (a separate post will follow on that site). On our journey to the palace we walked past the Burns Monument which is a nod to Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, and the Scottish Parliament building. The Scottish Parliament building is across the street from the entrance to the Palace. After the palace, we walked through Holyrood Park and saw Arthur's Seat, but unfortunately did not make it up to the top. That just means we'll have to go back, ha! Arthur's Seat is the highest point of the park and is part of four hill forts dating back over 2000 years ago.
Robert Burns Monument
View from Holyrood Park looking over towards the palace. The Nelson Monument is in the background atop Calton Hill. The monument was erected to commemorate Lord Horatio Nelson and his victory over the Spanish and French fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. It was constructed between 1807 and 1815.
Edinburgh city views
Greyfriars Bobby in Old Town. Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier famous for guarding the grave of his owner for 14 years...talk about loyalty. You are supposed to rub his nose for good luck. He is so famous, Disney made a movie about him. Please excuse the random humans invading the picture.
Some things Scotland is known for: whisky (obviously, and in Scotland it's spelled without the "e") and wool and cashmere. You can find some really good deals on wool and cashmere on the Royal Mile, which is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. There were also two excellent whisky shops along the Royal Mile: Robert Graham and Cadenhead's. The staff in both shops were extremely helpful and were very knowledgable and enjoyed educating shoppers about whisky. There were tons of restaurants on the Royal Mile, and we really enjoyed the staff and food at The Royal McGregor. The were very helpful, service was excellent and the food was fantastic. Some other lesser known Scottish things are Scottish marble and the quiach. Scottish marble is a greenish compound formed during the metamorphosis of limestone in the Highlands. It has been revered since the sixth century for its sacred and healing powers and prized by jewelers since the Victorian era. Scottish marble can be found on the facade of Westminster Cathedral in London. Quaich, pronounced "quake" is a two-handled drinking cup or bowl used for guests for welcoming drinks.
Views from the Royal Mile
The Royal McGregor: https://www.royalmcgregor.co.uk
Rober Graham: https://www.robertgraham1874.com
We also managed to make it to the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Galleries. Both places were free, but a small donation was appreciated. The museum was near the Greyfriars Bobby monument was extremely large and reminded me of the London National History Museum. It had a lot of family exhibits, but I most enjoyed the exhibits on Scottish history, which were nicely done. The National Gallery was located near Edinburgh Castle. It was smaller and cozier, but the artwork was fantastic. I especially enjoyed the small room of Nicolas Poussin paintings.
Two other restaurants worth noting were: The Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh and The Brass Monkey. Although cliche, the Hard Rock Cafe had excellent service and the food was good. And who doesn't want to collect all of the Hard Rock t-shirts! The Brass Monkey was very eclectic and the best part was they allowed dogs inside of the pub!
Our train ride back was interesting. We had seats next to a very nice Scotsman from Aberdeen, who talked the entire train ride home. He was very nice and I quite enjoyed his Scottish accent, but my introverted self was worn out after four hours of non-stop chatting.
Overall, I really enjoyed Scotland and cannot wait to go back. The people were so friendly and helpful. There is so much to do and see and it is a gorgeous country. I am looking forward to going back to see more castles and do some tours of the Highlands.
Onto the Britannia...