Our OE - Scotland                                          
FEBRUARY 2004
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  Edinburgh, Scotland

Thu 12-Feb 04	Dublin - Edinburgh, Scotland (UK)

This morning we had an early (6:50am) flight from Dublin to Edinburgh - we were in Edinburgh City by 8:30.  We caught our first view of Edinburgh Castle as we travelled along Princes Street in the bus - The castle is very large and rather stunning perched up on a rocky outcrop, towering high above the city.

After dropping our bags of at our accommodation and browsing a few touristy/souvenir stores, we wandered up 'The Mound' towards the Royal Mile and the Edinburgh Castle, seeing a few of the cute little closes (very narrow, tall sided alleyways) along the way.  The old town of Edinburgh around the Royal Mile is a very quaint and pretty area and reminded us a bit of Stockholm (The Old Town/Gamla Stan).

Map of Edinburgh

'The Mound'

Milne's Court
Leading up from The Mound to the Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle is amazing - very big, picturesque and with amazing views over the city.  We spent about 3 hours wandering around the various buildings (incl. the Palace and viewing the crown jewels), courtyards and walls. 

Argyll Tower, Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Next we meandered our way from the castle down the length of the Royal Mile (2), which is built along a narrow volcanic ridge through the Old Town.  Along the way we ducked into numerous ancient closes, courtyards and gift stores - a very nice area and relatively quiet too.

       

St. Giles Cathedral                                                        A Close, Royal Mile

White Horse Close, The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile

Carlton Hill, Edinburgh

Eventually we made our way down to the bottom of the Royal Mile and to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (one of the Queen's official residences - frankly I think she's just greedy having so many!), where we did a self-guided tour.  Really ornate state apartments, tapestries, paintings, etc.  We also took a quick look at the impressive ruins of Holyrood Abbey behind the palace.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

       

A Lantern and a Guard, at Holyroodhouse

Holyroodhouse Courtyard

View of Holyrood Park (Arthur's Seat), from Holyroodhouse

Holyrood Abbey

Building outside Holyroodhouse gates - honestly can't remember what it is!

After Holyroodhouse we rushed back up the Royal Mile to join a tour of The Vaults (by Mercat Tours).  The Vaults are 18th Century (hidden) rooms and corridors created underneath the arches of the South Bridge, which have been abandoned for nearly for nearly 200 years.  These vaults are dark, grotty, damp, and have no electricity, ventilation or running water, and yet many people lived and worked here in the late 18th Century in these horrific conditions - cobblers, black smiths, glass makers, wine merchants, jewellers, smugglers, and even body snatchers!  A very interesting tour, but I wouldn't like to get locked down there!

The Vaults, Edinburgh

Finally we had a browse of the Scottish Whisky Heritage Centre and then had a very tasty Italian meal to end a great day.

A very nice old city, and if you are after anything (yes, practically anything) with a Scottish family name on it, it would probably take you less than 5 minutes to find something (maybe even 30 seconds!) - they are everywhere!  Stayed at the Melville Guest House.

Fri 13-Feb 04	Edinburgh

We arrived in Ireland 1 year ago today!

This morning we caught a bus out to the coast at Leith, to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia which is now permanently moored there after being decommissioned in 1997.  This was practically a floating palace (1953-1997), decorated to the Queen's tastes - which (as described by Dean Cornish on the NZ Travel show Travel.co.nz) is very 'Nana-ish'!  It is still very interesting to visit though and they sell a very tasty home/boat-made fudge too!  There are also various normal photos around the yacht - i.e. the Queen with a broken arm, the royal family dressed in everyday casual clothes looking like an average family, Prince Charlie at age 2 or 3 at the wheel of the yacht and the Queen Mum and Diana having a laugh with the crew.

Map of Edinburgh

       

The Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith, Edinburgh

The Royal Yacht Britannia

After lunch we headed back into Edinburgh's Old Town area and had a quick look in Tron Kirk (church) - an impressive old church, that in addition to being the Information Centre also has excavations of old streets and shop foundations from before the South Bridge was built.  Next we went for a wander along Cowgate (very industrial looking) to Grassmarket - a wide, pretty street with a mixture of interesting craft/gift stores and yuppie looking cafes and restaurants, and an absolutely amazing view of the Castle towering above.  We wandered around the Castle and the Princes Street Gardens before heading off to pick-up our rental car for the next three days (for our trip into the Scottish Highlands).

Edinburgh Castle, towering above Grassmarket

Edinburgh Castle, as seen from Princes Street Gardens

Edinburgh Castle and Ross Fountain, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

With the car we went on a little drive around Holyrood Park/Arthur's Seat and out to see Craigmillar Castle, before dinner and then back into town again for a Murder and Mystery Tour (by Adam Lyal, deceased, of Witchery Tours).  This was a very good ghost tour of the Old Town (Royal Mile, Cowgate, Grassmarket etc), and practically compulsory considering that it was Friday the 13th today! 

Another very good day in Edinburgh - and our last before leaving tomorrow morning to head north.


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