Day 223: Exploring Edinburgh

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We have been very much on the move today, as we explored the city of Edinburgh. After a lovely traditional breakfast, courtesy of the Halcyon House, we grabbed our rain gear and headed out on foot.

We learned so much by taking the sightseeing bus in Glasgow that we made that our first priority this morning in Edinburgh. We saw Old Town and New Town in Edinburgh. It made me smile to find out New Town began to be built in the 1700’s! Our tour guide, Stuart, was fun and informative. The hour long tour was a great overview of the city and I loved the stories connected to each section. It amazes me, the age of this city. In Old Town, with its narrow streets that barely accommodate a bus and structures built of mixed stone, it was very easy to imagine how it looked hundreds of years ago.

On our second loop through the city we stopped in Charlotte Square at a book fair, where I purchased a book of traditional Scottish recipes. I need those to create my own afternoon tea when I return home! We then visited the Scottish National Museum and enjoyed an hour of looking at the exhibits. It was very moving to see the works of artists I recognized such as Raphael, Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Da Vinci.

Our next stop was the Royal Mile, that stretch of road that has Holyrood Palace at one end and climbs to Edinburgh Castle at the other. We decided to save the castle for tomorrow. Instead we visited shops and had afternoon tea at the Hub Cafe and wandered through the crowds, watching street performers. For August is the time of festivals in Edinburgh. There is a National Festival that includes art and performances in ballet, theater, opera and other classical forms. There’s a jazz festival. A book fair. The military tattoo. And what the locals call the mad festival, the Fringe. This can include anything beyond the ordinary! The impact on Edinburgh is huge! People are everywhere! One cab driver told us the city’s population of 500,000 doubles during festival time. I can believe it! It’s a party atmosphere, all over town!

After a brief rest back at the hotel, we returned to the Royal Mile for a late dinner and the Haunted Vault Tour. There are rooms and sealed up closes, or alleyways, beneath Edinburgh. In the 1980’s some of these places were discovered and excavated and explored. Because of the darker history of these subterranean rooms many spooky stories have arisen. We enjoyed a tour and the theatrical storytelling of our guide. As old as this city is I have no problem believing there is still plenty of interesting energy lingering about.

We put in a full day of exploring today! Tomorrow is another opportunity to discover more about Edinburgh and the lovely people of Scotland!

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