On my second day in Edinburgh to decided to visit Edinburgh Castle. It was the main reason that I came to the city and although I went and checked it out briefly on the afternoon that I arrived I wanted to be able to spend as much time as I wanted there. So I dedicated the full second day to see it, but It turned out that I only needed a few hours although I’m glad that I allowed plenty of time.
It’s an imposing sight sitting above the city and is not only a really cool place to visit but has some of the best views of the city that you will be able to find. When I left the house in the morning the sun was shining and as I walked up the Mile towards the castle it was with a deep sense of excitement. Castles are not something you will find in Australia and so the sense of medieval romance is hard to resist.
If you do a tour then I highly recommend the audio tour which features some great information on the site and which lets you wander around at your own pace, I also found it good because it allowed me to walk through some of the museums without having to read all the pages and pages of history in some of the displays. The headphones also serve the double purpose of keeping your ears warm because it’s fething cold and windy up there. There were moments when the only parts of my face that had any feeling were my ears. Also make sure that you are there before 1pm, because at 1pm everyday they fire the 1 o’clock gun. It’s an old tradition to let merchant ships in the Harbor know what time it is. Why 1pm? Well it’s cheaper to fire 1 shell at 1pm than 12 shells at 12pm LOL. Make sure you also get to see the Stone of Destiny, Scottish Crown, Sword, and Scepter, the history around them is very cool.
After about three hours of bracing cold and wind at the Castle I decided to head back in to town and take a walk around the places that I didn’t get to the day before. Although it was cold it was well worth my time and effort walking around the city. I ended up and the Scottish National History Museum.
After wandering around old Roman pottery and rusty swords for an hour and a half it was 4pm and dark outside (frowny face) so I decided to head back to my room and do some Kilt shopping along the way. No way I was coming to Edinburgh and not leaving with a Kilt but you will have to wait a little longer to see that one. 😉
After a few days traveling on my own I was keen to head out for a pint on Friday night and see a little bit of the Edinburgh scene. Luckily I was able to find a local willing to join me. Four doubles, some Tequila and a beer later my new Scottish mate had managed to get himself thrown out of the club and I was too drunk to walk straight. The bar we were at is called CC Blooms. CC Bloom is the name of the character Bette Middler plays in Beaches. I have never seen the movie but naming your bar after an 80’s Bette M character seems pretty damn camp to me… I love it.
On the Saturday morning I was nursing a killer hangover and with check out at 10am and my train not leaving until 2pm I had four hours to kill. The prospect of walking around for four hours with a hangover and a heavy backpack wasn’t appealing, then inspiration came to me. I got onboard one of the many bus tours that cruises around the city. The cool open air on the top deck did wonders for my head and I got to see all the parts of the city I had missed, I thoroughly recommend it as a hangover cure and a great way to see the city.
One of the stops on the tour was the Royal yacht Britannia. I decided to brave my spinning head and check out the Royal yacht. You enter the tour and the ship through a shopping mall… a shopping mall. I kind of expected that the Royal yacht deserved a little more dignity than that. You walk past the gym and the food court enter the tour and then exit through the Gift shop. I wonder what the Queen would think? The yacht itself is worth seeing if only to see just how well appointed ( and a little outdated ) the interior is. It’s a quick tour though and within the hour I was back on the bus and headed to the station and the trip back to London.
My overall impression of Edinburgh is that it’s a place I would really like to come back to and spend a couple of weeks exploring properly. I found the people here mostly friendly and although at first I thought it was a cold and bleak place but this was not true, I can’t wait to come back.