I’m frozen, still. I sit basking in the sun, glued to the back of my seat like a lizard creeping ever slowly towards the cloak of summer. Why has she taken so long to show herself? Stillness. Silence. Yet I move forever onwards. This train, a rhythmic chug along metal lines towards a cobbled city of the past and present.
Rugged rustic coastline, a boundary between land and sea looks up at me, the waves beating down like the war drums of the brave-hearts and old Scottish soldiers.
We edge into this city with narrow streets that climb upwards towards the sky, only stopping to marvel at a castle perched well above the horizon.
With narrow cobbled streets and a castle that sits guard over all of the city – new and old below, the minute you set eyes on Edinburgh you’ll want to lose yourself and explore. But it’s not all as mystical as it sounds, aye, alas it is not.
These foreign streets worm their way into your manner and speech and you find yourself dropping the odd ‘ayyyye’, as you nod in appreciation to a gentleman playing the saws (aye, ye herd me correctly lassy), or old John McGuiness on his bagpipes across the way.
It’s a historic city yes, but it is as buzzy and lively as any big cosmopolitan city, minus the traffic, the noise and the flashing lights. There’s so much to see, do, eat (and definitely drink) and you’d need at least 3 days to do it properly.
Edinburgh Castle [Obviously].
The most famous tourist attraction in Scotland. It dominates the geography and cityscape of Edinburgh, and is one of those iconic tourist attractions that just can’t be missed. I mean – who wouldn’t go to the Eiffel Tower in Paris? Only a fool.
Battles and sieges have been fought here, generations have lived and died within its vast confines, the walls would tell secrets of royalties long passed and it continues to tell tales and inspire those who venture within. This ancient stronghold is one of the worlds great castles, and was even used as a military base in its later years (still the 1600’s). For £16 it’s worth the trip although (lesson learned) avoid public holidays or midday on the weekend (or both if you’re us)!
The main peak of a wider group of Scottish hills, Arthur’s Seat keeps a watchful eye over the city, and stares eye to eye with the grand Edinburgh castle – one mile to the west. It’s described by Robert Louis Stevenson as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design” and while just a scenic part of the city, it is deeply entrenched in the psyche of the local residents. A visual and fearless reminder of a somewhat macabre and complex past, and a beautiful and refreshing face of the future.
This pristine spot has excellent panoramic views of the capital, it’s not a hard climb and obviously a popular spot for [serious] dog walking, picnicking, frolicking with lovers, and feeling the salt air in your hair.
This graveyard has arguably become the most famous graveyard in the world, seeing pilgrimages from those living real life Harry Potter fantasies! Now more commonly known as the home of Tom Riddle’s grave – aka the evil Lord Voldermort in the Harry Potter series, it is a common tourist attraction and is also sporting a lovely church and gardens.
The gravestone itself is quite a challenge to find if you don’t know where to look [I gave up and had a sleep on the grass instead], but another spot worthy of a visit and it is very close to the ‘Elephant Teahouse’ where J. K. Rowling sat writing the books. After a hard day on the cobbles when you’re feeling dead tired, this is the place to nap – there’s no body around to disturb you.
Other interesting activities worthy of looking into:
– Mary Kings Close – here you can take a tour of the underbelly of the royal mile, preserved perfectly as it were in the 17th century. Imagine the horror of living in the filth of excrement and animal feed if you were poor enough to be at street level. You can only imagine…
– Drink some Whiskey. There’s tours and brewery’s for miles, you wont be short of options.
– Check out the nearby countryside. Escaping the city is really worth the journey. Get to see wider Scotland if you have the chance, it’s hopelessly green and endlessly refreshing.
– Last but not least, if you really want to get immersed and feel face to face with the local culture and history, get along to a Celtic folk gig. We did, classy joint! Here’s a foot-tapping banger to make you feel alive!