Scotland Trip

Edinburgh must-see spots

Our strategy for Tuesday was to be sure to see the most important highlights to be seen here in Edinburgh, so that we could take Wednesday and Thursday to fill in with whatever we missed. The priority, of course, would be Edinburgh Castle, which was our first stop in the morning.

The structure that became Edinburgh Castle is the foundation of the city. The oldest structure at the Castle is St. Margaret’s Chapel, built around 1130 AD. The rest of the castle was built in stages over the centuries as the demands of the times required. The result is an impressive fortress and (now) tourist attraction on a high hill overlooking a busy, lovely European city.

We saw most of the key attractions at the castle, including the Great Hall (exactly as you would imagine a medieval “great hall”), the Scottish Crown Jewels (aka the Scottish Honours), a prisoners’ dungeon where American rebels were held during the Revolutionary War, and St. Margaret’s Chapel. We skipped most of the explicitly military exhibits, but we were on-site for the One O’Clock Gun, which they shoot off daily.

As it got to be lunchtime, we headed out of the Castle and down the Royal Mile. We ended up at a pub called the Jolly Judge, where we had a small lunch and a pint each. I forgot that the pints here are more than 16 oz. It was okay, though. It was cold outside and the pints didn’t help. So we sought out a shop where we could buy something warm. Dave bought a knit cap with the Scottish flag on it, and I bought a nice plaid wool scarf.

We kept heading down the Royal Mile, all the way to the new Parliament building. My opinion: the new building, on the outside, is UGLY. We did go inside, and the architecture inside is interesting enough and well-thought-out enough that I had a much more positive opinion once inside. The debating chamber is particularly interesting. The inside didn’t really revise my opinion of the outside, though.

We walked across the street to Holyrood Palace, but it had closed for the day. Then we started wandering a bit, aimless, until we finally realized that we had the time and energy to walk up Calton Hill. We went up there, where there was a really excellent view of the city and of the Firth (which is the bay on which Edinburgh is built). It was well worth the hike.

Then we hiked home, the weather being reasonably sunny. Paul made us a tasty haggis dinner. For those who have heard of haggis and are scared, fear not! It’s tasty, much like a peppery meatloaf. I recommend it to any meat eater.

After dinner we drove to the Forth Rail Bridge, which is a pretty cool cantilever bridge (according to Dave). It wasn’t lit up as well as we had expected, but we got a good view of it.

Then off to bed!