Trip Start Aug 18, 2011
Trip End Jul 02, 2012

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Friday, December 2, 2011

On Friday morning I set off from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport for Edinburgh, Scotland. I got into the city around noon and was immediately amazed by its beauty. Edinburgh Castle sits atop old volcanic rock and looks out over the medieval stone buildings of the Old Town, Princes Street Gardens, and the Georgian buildings of the New Town - it's a spectacular setting.

There's so much interesting history in the city, from stories about haunted areas and people digging up bodies in graveyards to sell to the medical school to the city's rejuvenation following it becoming the 'Athens of the North.'

After walking up Cockburn Street (pronounced co-burn), the Royal Mile and checking into my hostel, I set off for a tour of Edinburgh Castle. Before I even got into the Castle, I got a jolt from the One O'Clock Gun, which is set off everyday from the Castle (except Sundays). I was surprised at how big the castle actually is. I learned a lot of history from the tour and got to see such things as the oldest building in the city, St Margaret's Chapel (dating from the 1100's), the former Royal Palace where the Scottish monarchs lived and Mons Meg (a huge bombard cannon). There were great 360 views over the city from the castle. It was well worth the 14 to get in.

Next I walked down Ramsay Lane to the German Christmas market on the Mound where there were little shops selling winter food and various Christmas decorations. On the way to the Christmas market, I passed by the University of Edinburgh's New College. 

Around the Scott Monument, which honors the author of Ivanhoe, there was a carnival with some fun rides. On Princes Street I passed by Jenners Department Store. By that time it was starting to get late, so I headed back into the Old Town across Waverly Bridge to St Giles' Cathedral, dating from 1124. It was neat to be inside a church that was so old. 

I ended my first day by walking down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace (the home of Great Britain's queen in Edinburgh) and then walked up to Carlton Hill for an impressive night view of the city. It was quite a trek up the hill. Luckily I'm not as out of shape as I was before I arrived in Amsterdam since I have to bike everywhere. 

For dinner that night I ate the typical Scottish dishes of haggis and fish and chips at L'Alba D'Oro. I was surprised to find that I actually liked haggis, which consists of sheep's heart, lung and liver mixed with oats and spices and cooked in a sheep's stomach. Mine was cooked in a pastry instead of a sheep's stomach, luckily, otherwise I doubt I would have liked it. It just tasted like spicy meat.

After my trip through the Highlands on Saturday and Sunday (see next blog for details), I had another half day in the city before my flight back to Amsterdam. 

I spent the day taking a free walking tour through the city. I got to see some neat things such as the old Parliament building used before joining with England's, the Grassmarket, the Elephant House Cafe (where J.K. Rowling wrote the first two Harry Potter books), Greyfriars Graveyard (where Greyfriars Bobby, a dog, guarded his master's grave everyday for 14 years), Victoria Street, the inner court of the University of Edinburgh's New College and Princes Street Gardens.

Overall, I had a great time in the city. It was so neat to be walking the same streets as Charles Darwin, J.K. Rowling, Sean Connery and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It was refreshing to be in an English speaking area for a change too. Not that I don't love Amsterdam, but sometimes I feel a bit disconnected from Amsterdam because everyone around me is talking in Dutch. I even got to see a dusting of snow on the ground my second day in the city. The weather was really good both days, though very windy. My only complaint was how expensive everything is with the pound. I definitely would go back to spend more time if I had the time (and the money).

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Aunt Jane on

We loved our trip to Scotland and it looks like you went to many of the places we saw also. We also like Haggis...and in the stomach you really don't even see it or taste it. It just looks like the covering on sausage. So glad you tried it.
Sounds like you made the best of your time there.

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