We awoke on day two feeling fantastic. Thanks to an exhaustion-induced coma, we slept through the night and woke up ready and rearin’ to go. Take that, would-be jet lag!
We started out with breakfast at our hotel. Did I mention on day one that we really enjoyed our hotel? The Rutland is comfortable, full of character, and located within walking distance of Old Town. If those credentials were not enough, the staff is wonderful, and the free breakfast is delicious.
After breakfast, we set out in the direction of the Castle. Our tickets were for morning entry anytime between 9:30-11:00, but because we took our time at breakfast and underestimated how long it would take to get up to the castle, we did not get there until nearly 11:00. In terms of our day’s schedule, this was not a problem, but in terms of the crowds…
You can see in the picture above that the tourists were already in full force by 11:00 am. Not a huge deal, but in retrospect, it might have been nice to arrive closer to opening.
And now for the onslaught of a gajillion pictures…
St. Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle is supposedly the oldest building in Edinburgh, built in the 12th century by David I in honor of his mother. Without the steady stream of people, I imagine it would be a peaceful place to pray.
I enjoyed seeing the Royal Palace and the Great Hall. Upon entering the Royal Palace, we went straight to the exhibit featuring the Stone of Destiny and the crown jewels of Scotland. The crown jewels, or the Honours of Scotland, consisting of the crown and scepter, were first used together at Mary Stuart’s coronation when she was only six months old. After the crown room, we walked through to see more of the palace, including Mary Stuart’s birthing room where she gave birth to James VI. Our last stop at the castle was the Great Hall. With weapons and armor lining the walls and coats of arms in the windows, the Great Hall was an impressive room to end our tour of the castle.
A Stroll Up Princes Street
From the castle, we headed to Calton Hill. Since we had already walked the Royal Mile the day before, we decided to take Princes Street for some new views. Here are some of the sights we saw along the way.
At the end of Princes Street is Calton Hill. Take the stairs up to the top of the hill for stunning views of the city. The steps up are aplenty, but it is worth it!
By the time we made it down the hill, it was well past lunchtime and we were officially starving, so off we went in search of lunch. We landed at Patisserie Maxime, lured inside by the heavenly display of pastries and desserts in the window. Lunch was good, but I have no pictures. This seems to happen whenever I am really hungry: my camera goes on strike until I am fed again. I also have no pictures of the delicious desserts that are 4/£10, but you can take my word for it that they are both beautiful and delicious. Or you can check them out on the Patisserie Maxime website. Or better yet, you could hop a plane to Edinburgh, purchase some of the delectable treats, and then send a few to me (standard tariff imposed on pastries purchased at my advice 😉 ).
Revived by lunch, we were ready to get back to sightseeing. Our next destination was Dean Village, a small and picturesque neighborhood situated around the Water of Leith. This scenic hamlet is quiet and peaceful, making it the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll.
We planned to head down to the riverbank, but once we walked down the narrow road leading into the village, we took a little detour down Miller Row.
This was a beautiful walk along the river and we would have gladly continued down the path if we had more time. Instead, we doubled back and resumed our original path to the riverbank. And this is what we found:
West Bow & Victoria (Reprise)
Since this was our last full day in Edinburgh, we wanted to head back to Old Town before having to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. When we reached West Bow, we found that the blue skies had made the colorful shopfronts even more vibrant and beautiful!
Taste of Scotland Show
Our dinner reservations were for the World Famous Taste of Scotland Show at Prestonfield House. Comparable to a luau in Hawaii, this dinner show provides an evening of entertainment, history, and local dishes. It is nothing if not touristy, but that’s the point, right?
Before the main course was served, there was a Haggis Ceremony. During the ceremony, our emcee set the mood with Robert Burns’ “Address to a Haggis.” For those of you just dying to read a poem dedicated to sheep’s liver, heart, and lungs (cooked up real nice-like in a sheep’s stomach lining, of course), I found it just for you. 😉 And if you want more Scottish poetry, check out the Scottish Poetry Library website.
Please let the record show that I did try the haggis. And I will never admit to saying this, but I kind of liked it too!
The show ended around 10:00 pm, and we walked outside to find lovely evening skies. I really enjoyed the long summer days in Scotland. With the sun setting around 10:30pm, I don’t think we ever saw a single night sky.
And this was the finale to our day. We took a taxi back to our hotel and hit the sack so we could be up and at ’em bright and early.
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- Castle Tickets: If you buy your tickets to Edinburgh Castle in advance, you will get a small discount. Keep in mind you will have to choose an entry time at the time you purchase your tickets so you will need to have an idea of when you want to go.
- Edinburgh Castle Crowds: The castle fills up with tourists pretty quickly, so arriving close to opening time is probably your best bet for getting pictures without dozens of strangers in your frame.
- If you don’t know about the Stone of Destiny, you should read up on its interesting history. You can also check out the movie Stone of Destiny.)
- If you are interested in a fun touristy experience in Edinburgh, the World Famous Taste of Scotland Show makes for an entertaining evening. And don’t be afraid to try the haggis–it’s pretty tasty.
A Hike to Arthur’s Seat