After a quick tour of London with my cousin Josh, the European Vacation continued. We met up with Spencer and flew north to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Edinburgh is an enchanting place and easily one of my favorite cities in Europe. The heart of the city is the huge castle, sat atop an immense and menacing rock outcrop. A royal castle has been on that spot for at least 1100 years, and has stood through over 25 sieges.
A tour of the castle is really interesting. Inside you can see Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. There are also exhibits on Scottish military regiments and the castle prisons.
The castle also offers some very cool views of the city. Edinburgh is split into two distinct areas: the medieval Old Town at the base of the castle with winding alleys and narrow streets, and the neatly plotted New Town made up of elegant Georgian town homes and pretty gardens. Edinburgh Old and New towns are together listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Old Town for its medieval significance, and the neoclassical New Town for its beauty and impact on modern urban planning, and the juxtaposition they provide within one city.
Edinburgh always seems to have an air of mystery about it. The windy, sneaking medieval streets, the grey buildings, and the short winter days, are all perpetually under the heavy shadow of a giant castle. It’s no wonder that the city has such a rich literary history, the air seems to carry stories. We learned a little about some famous Scottish authors, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson, at the wee Writer’s Museum, hidden down an alley. We also ducked into the Scottish National Gallery, an impressive art museum.
After all of our touring we settled down in a pub and tucked into the traditional meals of fish & chips, sausage & mash, and, of course, haggis, neeps & tatties. Naturally, no trip to Scotland (or anywhere, for that matter) would be complete without a tasting of the local beers. Deuchars IPA was not well received, but we all enjoyed the drafts offered at the local brewery Brew Dogs.
Jet lag had us in bed by 9:00 PM that night, so we missed out on the famous Edinburgh nightlife. But the next morning we hopped on the train, crossed the Forth Bridge (another UNESCO World Heritage Site!) and continued our pilgrimage to St. Andrews.