With only a day to explore Edinburgh, Natascha and I made the best of it by visiting Edinburgh Castle, strolling down the Royal Mile and taking refreshment at a pub or two. A day wasn’t nearly enough time to thoroughly enjoy all that the city has to offer, but it served as a great introduction and whet our appetite for a repeat visit in the future.
After a leisurely train ride in from Falkirk that passed through lush green lands and nearby towns, we arrived in the middle of Edinburgh and set off toward the castle. We didn’t pre-book any tickets so we hoped for short queues. When we finally climbed Castle Rock, the hill upon which Edinburgh Castle sits, we nearly turned back as the line wove back and forth like a ride at Disneyland. However, we’d already come this far and I really wanted to see a man in a kilt, so we queued up with the rest of the tourists. Luckily, the day was turning out to be wonderful with blue skies and the bright sun shining down on us.
Once we got through the main gates, we were met by a guide who gave us a brief history and tour of the place before leaving us to our own devices. At last, a man in a kilt! Perhaps I should’ve been more specific though as he was a bit old and a tad grey for my liking. Haha!
The castle is built like a fortress on an extinct volcano, which provides the natural protection of steep cliffs on three sides. The vantage point that this created allowed guards to see anyone who approached. Canons sat at the ready and poked their noses through large holes in the wall. I was simply amazed by the architectural feat of constructing such a large, multi-faceted structure completely of stone.
St. Margaret’s Chapel, found on the castle grounds, is the oldest building in Edinburgh and dates back to the 12th century. It is the tiniest chapel ever and seems capable of holding only a few people at a time. The stained-glass windows are very beautiful and close enough to touch.
After the chapel, we visited the dungeon and got a glimpse at what life would be like for a prisoner of war. We also saw their living and sleeping quarters where hammocks hung above cots. This was drastically contrasted with the room that held the crown jewels. The crown, scepter and sword of state are the oldest crown jewels in the British Isles.
After Edinburgh Castle, Natascha and I browsed the shops and market stalls set up along the Royal Mile, the main street through Old Town. It’s filled with interesting little nooks and crannies full of Scottish delights. As we walked along, we came across what seemed to be a gay rights parade as colorful rainbows flew high and proud.
Feeling a bit peckish, we stopped in for a pub lunch. We both got massive burgers and chips. With our bellies full, we wandered over to New Town and conducted a bit of retail therapy. Of course, I couldn’t really buy anything but the window shopping was nice. And to wind down the day, we hit another pub for drinks and more chatting before catching the train back to Falkirk.