Edinburgh

The next weekend, we jetted off to Edinburgh. I usually prefer more personal space than the average city allows, but I LOVED Edinburgh! I could even see myself living there someday. The food was incredible. The people were nice. There was bagpipe music everywhere. Cobblestone streets. Reading nooks galore. There was always the possibility of seeing J.K. Rowling around town. There were a couple of castles to explore, and there wasn’t this blazing Southern Idaho heat to deal with.

So in Edinburgh, there is Old Town and New Town. We stayed in Old Town, which I preferred because the architecture was older, there was more history, and it was less crowded. Our flight left Belfast early Saturday morning, and we landed in Edinburgh a little after 9:00. Thank you to Jackie for thinking ahead and finding an incredible breakfast place ahead of time. I had toast with the most incredible scrambled eggs I have ever had (sorry Mom) on top, and then that was topped with lox. It was a really stellar breakfast.

The first view of Old Town
The first view of Old Town

After we were full on eggs and toast, we walked down the Royal Mile (the street running from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace) on our way to Edinburgh Castle. We stopped at St. Giles’ Cathedral, which is the main Church of Scotland church. It was gorgeous!

St. Giles' Cathedral
St. Giles’ Cathedral
Fancy Ceiling
Fancy Ceiling
Gorgeous Stained Glass
Gorgeous Stained Glass
Have you ever seen such a ginormous pipe organ?!
Have you ever seen such a ginormous pipe organ?!
Thistle Chapel
Thistle Chapel
More stained glass
More stained glass

We continued up the Royal Mile and saw the City Chambers,

Inside the courtyard of the city chambers
Inside the courtyard of the city chambers

and finally we reached Edinburgh Castle.

The castle on the hill
The castle on the hill

Edinburgh Castle has long been home to ruling clans and monarchs of Scotland, most famously Mary Queen of Scots who gave birth to her son King James VI here. In the 1600s, it became a military base. Cool stuff.

The Great Hall
The Great Hall
What a view!
What a view!
View of the city and part of the castle
View of the city and part of the castle
This is a bottle of whiskey that costs 13,600 pounds (I don't know how to make the pound sign on my computer), but that's beside the point. Must be really tasty.
This is a bottle of whiskey that costs 13,600 pounds (I don’t know how to make the pound sign on my computer), but that’s beside the point. Must be really tasty.
Another spectacular view
Another spectacular view

After Edinburgh castle, we just walked around the city. Saw some cool shops on the street…INCLUDING THE PLACE WHERE J.K. ROLLING WROTE HARRY POTTER!!!!!

No caption necessary
No caption necessary
As the name suggests, there were lots of elephants at this place
As the name suggests, there were lots of elephants at this place

The cool thing about The Elephant House is that there isn’t really a shrine to Harry Potter or J.K. Rowling, with the exception of the bathroom, which is covered with graffiti from people expressing their passion for Potter.

The Boy Who Lived
The Boy Who Lived

I like that they have kept it subtle because otherwise, it wouldn’t be a cool coffee shop anymore. It would be a madhouse! We also found a super cool bookshop. One of the books that we found seemed especially relevant…

thumb_IMG_1293_1024

The next day, we went up to Calton Hill, which has quite a few neat monuments. The hill is located in the middle part of the city, so you can see all the way around, which is pretty cool.

Burns Monument
Burns Monument
Balmoral Clock Tower
Balmoral Clock Tower
A hill that I don't know the name of
A hill that I don’t know the name of
National Monument
National Monument
Nelson's Monument
Nelson’s Monument

The last stop was Holyrood Palace (pronounced Holly Rude), or The Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of the British Monarchy in Scotland. The Queen usually comes for a week at the end of June and holds a few state events, the biggest being a garden party with an average of 8,000 guests. This was a very exciting visit because I am fascinated with the Royal Family. It was hard to control myself at the gift shop because they have china for EVERYTHING. It was a lot to take in. I was a little confused while we were there because I thought that the Royal Family always went to Balmoral when they were in Scotland, so I did some research and found that Balmoral belongs to the family, while Holyrood belongs to the Crown. Cool stuff. We weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside, but here are some pictures of the outside.

Entrance to the palace
Entrance to the palace
Courtyard
Courtyard
Ruins of the old abbey attached to the palace
Ruins of the old abbey attached to the palace
abbey
abbey
abbey
abbey
abbey
abbey
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds with the abbey in the background
Palace grounds with the abbey in the background
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds
Palace grounds

We wanted to walk around the Scottish National Parliament because it isn’t too far from Holyrood, but we visited Holyrood on a Sunday, and the Parliament building is not open on Sunday, but we got a couple of pictures of the outside. It was interesting to me that the architecture was so modern and edgy – no big columns, no rotunda, the grandeur associate with the building was very different than the grandeur of the capitol building in D.C.

Scottish National Parliament
Scottish National Parliament
Scottish National Parliament
Scottish National Parliament

To finish off, here is a sample from my collection of reading nook pictures. If you go to Edinburgh, make sure to bring a good book, and give yourself some time to enjoy all of the lovely spots to read.

This is at Edinburgh Castle, so you can't actually sit down and read here, but just imagine...
This is at Edinburgh Castle, so you can’t actually sit down and read here, but just imagine…
The Elephant House
The Elephant House
A strange light covering at Calton Hill, but there was some nice overhang, so if you sat underneath, then you would be out of the way
A strange light covering at Calton Hill, but there was some nice overhang, so if you sat underneath, then you would be out of the way
See the guy reading on the steps? He has the right idea. This is also at Calton Hill
See the guy reading on the steps? He has the right idea. This is also at Calton Hill
On the grounds of Holyrood, but I don't think the Queen would mind if I borrowed the tree trunk for a couple of hours
On the grounds of Holyrood, but I don’t think the Queen would mind if I borrowed the tree trunk for a couple of hours
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