I’ve decided that when I retire, I am going to live in Edinburgh. This city charmed me, through the wonderful people and all it has to offer.
I took the train from Glasgow in the early morning to Edinburgh, it was a quick train ride across the beautiful countryside. When you get to the train station in Edinburgh, don’t make the same mistake I did. In my excitement to be there I just took the nearest exit out of the station and ended up on the lower street. However my hotel was above me on the adjacent street.
I couldn’t find any other way up to the street level besides a small close that was a series of steep stairs. A close is a street in Edinburgh, I learned that on the Mary King's Close tour. I had quite a large suitcase as I was on a work trip prior to Scotland. So I lugged that heavy suitcase slowly up these stairs and around the block to my hotel.
But it was worth it. I stayed at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton which was perfectly situation halfway between the Edinburgh Castle and Palace at Holyroodhouse along the Royal Mile.
I love history and I love castles so my first stop in Edinburgh was food. I ate at this adorable little pub across the street from St. Giles Cathedral, then made my way to the castle.
Edinburgh Castle is an imposing ancient medieval palace that now separates the New and Old Towns of Edinburgh. It’s an impressive sight walking up Castlehill, across the Esplanade and through the arches to the castle. Be prepared to spend a good portion of the day to see everything in the castle from the dungeons, the chapel to the museums. Its well worth the time though as it is an impressive complex. The view from Mill’s Mount Battery of the city of Edinburgh was incredible, I could see across the city to the Firth of Forth.
Right around the corner from my hotel was this great cozy pub called the Albanach. I spent plenty of time drinking whiskey and eating traditional Scottish pub fare late into the wee hours of the night.
My second day in Edinburgh I spent on a day tour into the highlands (look for part 3 of the Solo in Scotland) drinking whiskey and exploring the beautiful countryside. Here’s a sneak peek at Loch Lomond my first stop on the tour.
For my last day in Edinburgh I went to The Palace at Holyroodhouse and explored Holyrood Park. The Palace at Holyroodhouse is where Queen Elizabeth lives when she is in Scotland, which I think is during the month of August.
The Palace at Holyroodhouse has lush green gardens that connect the living Palace with the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. The Abbey was my favorite at the Palace. Standing there imagining the history that has occurred within the walls of a structure so old can really put things in perspective.
Within the Palace was an exhibit of Queen Elizabeth’s clothes for her 90th birthday. The exhibit walked you through her life through the eyes of her fashion including sketches by the designer’s and even the dress she wore to her sister’s wedding.
After walking through the palace I stopped for some tea and quick lunch at the Café at the Palace. The ambiance was worth the price, sitting in the white atrium with a view overlooking the palace ensure I was well rested before my hike up to Arthur’s Seat.
Besides the charm that is Edinburgh, Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat are why I will retire to this brilliant city. Most cities have fabulous parks, a little green space that breaks up the concrete jungles. But this park is like no other.
The climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat does not require any technical skills but it isn’t just a walk in the park. As you make your way to the peak, also known as Arthur’s Seat, you are ascending to the best view in the whole city. As I had said before my weather in Scotland was perfect, almost no rain and warm enough for a light jacket. On my ascent I passed Saint Anthony’s Chapel Ruins where all that remains is half of a wall and a clear view to The Palace at Holyroodhouse. The view is much better up here than at Edinburgh Castle.
I am a huge fan of ghost or somewhat scary tours when travelling and I had some time to spare before meeting up with some new friends so I went on the Mary King’s Close tour. I know tours like this aren’t for everyone but this is a must! You will learn how the everyday person lived and struggled in a time only remembered for kings and queens.
I had dinner with some new friends in Old Town Edinburgh at a quaint Scottish pub that I can’t remember the name (I’m sorry!). I finally tried haggis and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was! We then went to the Edinburgh Gin Distillery across in the new part of the city. Situated in the basement of a nondescript building the distillery has a medieval speakeasy atmosphere, but the gin is delicious. Try the rhubarb & ginger gin if you get the chance.
Unfortunately, my Scottish trip was at an end, but I can’t wait to go back. There is so much left to experience and explore in Edinburgh and the wonderful country of Scotland.