Travel

Visiting Edinburgh, Scotland September 2022

Last month prior to our cruise on the Norwegian Pr1ma, my son and I flew into Edinburgh. The plan was two days there, two days in Liverpool, and 4 days in London before the cruise.

We arrived at Edinburgh Airport after a red-eye out of New York City the night before. A friend of mine works for the Royal Scots Club and so we stayed there. I laid down for a short nap and woke up 4 hours later. Jet lag killed most of our first day.

Edinburgh Airport is outside of the City. To get to our hotel, we took a tram from the Airport that stopped a few blocks from the Royal Scots Club. I had tested positive for COVID on August 29th and this was September 14th. I had tested negative before we left, but I found that it was still affecting me a bit in that that I tended to get very tired with short walks. Getting from the tram to the hotel was case in point, as was the walk from the hotel to Edinburgh Waverly Station on our last day.

The Royal Scots Club is a private club that does rent out rooms when members aren’t staying there. It’s a beautiful building in a great location, central to everything. The room was nice and the bed was comfortable. Although the actual room was a little tight with twin beds, the bathroom was huge, and there was a short hallway between the beds and the bathroom that had a closet with enough room to open the suitcases.

The next day we bought tickets for the hop-on hop-off bus. This is a favorite thing to do when we travel as we find we get a good overview of wherever we are plus some history besides. We had an early breakfast at the Royal Scots Club, then headed out. The bus stop was only a couple of blocks from the hotel on the other side of the park.

View from our room

Edinburgh is a beautiful city. The “new” part of the City was built in the 1700s. The “old” parts date a lot further back. We didn’t have time to explore Old Town as I would have liked to. My next trip there that will be a priority and it’s such a beautiful city that I will go back again.

We took one trip around on the bus without getting off. We were early so we were in the front row on the top level which gave us a great viewpoint for seeing the city. On the second trip around, we got off near Edinburgh Castle. We had a timed ticket there for 12:00PM.

We had time before we could go in, so we ducked into a close nearby and got something to eat. I had some great hot cocoa (definitely not made with powdered mix and water!) and a scone. My son had a hotdog. We browsed a few stores nearby and then walked toward the entrance.

The Castle was spectacular. We spent a total of 4 1/2 hours there exploring. I found it fascinating how well the structure was built into the mountain with the rock base integrated right into the building structure.

We had an audio tour with our ticket, but I didn’t have headphones for my phone. There are audio guides you can borrow, but I was misinformed that they worked the same way the phones do. We could have used them with the headphones we got from the hop-on hop-off bus. Every time we got to a spot with narration, Danny and I would listen to the information with my phone’s speaker. Sometimes we would sit nearby and listen to a few of them.

We were there for the one o’clock gun but missed it because we were in the bathroom. What’s the one o’clock gun? It is a 105mm field gun that is fired every day at 1pm, except Sundays, Good Friday, and Christmas Day. The practice goes back to 1861 when the blast signaled the time to ships in the Firth of Forth.

Had I known, I probably could have held it a few minutes.

The views of the city from up here were spectacular as well.

There was so much history inside the Castle, including the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny, which will be used for King Charles’ Coronation. No photos are allowed inside where the Jewels and the Stone are kept.

In this same courtyard is the entrance to the Memorial for all the Scots killed during the First World War. Again, out of respect, they ask for no photos to be taken inside. It is well worth visiting, though.

The Great Hall is where King James IV held state ceremonies during his reign.

On the military side, there was Mons Meg, a six-tonne siege gun given to King James II in 1457. It could fire a 150kg gunstone for up to 3.2km (2 miles). One fired over the city to celebrate the marriage of Mary Queen of Scots landed in what is now the Royal Botanic Garden. The Half Moon Battery was built over and around what was left of David’s Tower following the Lang Siege of 1573. For more than 200 years, bronze guns known as the Seven Sisters armed the battery.

St. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest building in Edinburgh. King David I had this tiny chapel built around 1130 in memory of his mother. The chapel fell out of use and was used at various times for other things, such as storage, but was restored in more recent times. This included trying to figure out what the original entrances and windows were since many had been filled in over the years. The stained glass windows inside are from the 1920s.

There is even a dog cemetery on the property where regimental mascots and pets of the officers and castle governor are buried.

At the end, I was just too tired and rested while my son explored the War Museum on his own. He found the place to be very interesting. When we walked out, we found a place with gelato near the bus stop. We were their last customers for the day as it was getting late!

We met my friend, Morag, that night for burgers in a pub. We’ve “known” each other online for more than 10 years, so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. She brought her dog whom we fed biscuits to. They are much more open to well-behaved dogs joining their masters inside in Europe than we are here in the States.

I loved Edinburgh and really want to go back some time and spend more time there. I really want to explore Old Town and go on a ghost tour under there. It’s a beautiful city, and I can see why it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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