Welcome to Scotland!
I’ve been to the UK a few times but I’ve never reached the north. When my friend left Poland to study in Edinburgh I felt this is one more reason to finally pay a visit. I gave my word so I went in November. I thought it would be cold and windy and… I was right haha, but the weekend was sunny as well, so it was really nice. I learned that Scotland is not just bagpipes, kilt and whisky (although we can’t forget about it, it’s an important part of this region). BTW, I never say no to alcohol ;)
When it comes to the general info, Edinburgh has a population of 500,000 people. Tourists are everywhere, even in winter. The city is known for its many summer festivals.
The castle is located on the hill in the center of the city so you can see it from almost every place, wherever you go. I didn’t enter, because Magda (my friend) doesn’t want to go there before her graduation (it appears it brings bad luck). Being in Coimbra, there was a similar superstition – when you fell down on the monumental stairs (they have 5 levels symbolising 5 years of study), you could fail. Besides, I’m not a big fan or medieval ruins and what was more interesting from the hill was the beautiful panorama view where I could see Arhur’s Seat and George Heriot’s School (where J.K. Rowling’s kids learned).
We visited a few other places and NO, not all of them were cafes or restaurants. We didn’t explore the city searching for the famous monuments, we just walked around, from time to time finding them on the way. My TOP10 fascination is long gone, right now I want to focus how locals live, if they like their place, their recommendations etc.
- …however, we did ate in a few nice spots. For example, we went to Spoon for breakfast and to try Scottish national dish – haggis. It contains sheep’s pluck minced with onion, spices and mixed with stock. We chose a vegetarian option.
I haven’t tried a deep-fried Mars candy bar covered in batter, because I didn’t want to have stomach revolutions on the plane, but it’s a thing I want to eat next time!
Would you call me a freak if I tell you that I was enchanted by graveyards? Especially Greyfriars Kirkyard that shares a few interesting stories. Next to the entrance there is a Bobby’s monument. People touch its nose (human stupidness surprises me all the time) for luck. Bobby was a dog that spent 14 years by its owner’s grave who died in XIX century. He was buried in the entrance what is highlighted by a special placard. That’s why I choose dogs over cats.
It is said that Grayfriars Kirkyard is haunted and inexplicable incidents happen not only at night. The ‘person’ responsible for this can be a lawyer George ‘Bloody’ Mackenzie who killed and tortured thousands of people and now his poltergeist haunts people. Thank’s God I discovered this AFTER my visit at the graveyard.
St. Cuthbert’s Church and another cemetery. Lovely.
As I said, you can see the castle practically from everywhere.
We went to the other end of Royal Mile, closer to Arthur’s Seat (to look at, not to climb – it was so windy!), to Holyrood but it started to rain so we didn’t stay long. There is a Holyrood Palace and new Parliament building. It’s modern but you can’t look at it, it’s so ugly!
On the second day Magda showed me The University of Edinburgh and the building where she studies, as well as McEwan Hall where graduations take place. The area has a close surrounding of The Meadows park. It’s a great place to walk, run, have a picnic and basically – hang out.
The castle hill is not the only place where you can fall in love with Edinburgh. Calton Hill is even more impressive when you want to HAVE A VIEW. You can see the whole city and the see as well. There are a few building here, including the observatory.
Santa’s coming to town!
I chose the perfect timing because when I arrived, the Christmas Market opened its doors. Actually, there a few other Christmassy spots. Everything to make you fall into a festive mood. You can buy mulled wine (obviously!), food, presents (scarfs, caps, jewellery, hand-made things) and visit the amusement park. Edinburgh’s Market takes all the Princes Street Gardens area. It divides the city into the Old and New Town.
Edinburgh is an old city and the majority of the buildings prove it. At the same time I could notice lots of modern buildings and another few in the construction. Check out more photos of the old and new Edinburgh: