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I decided that, until I am living in Dublin I want to visit most of the cities close to it and Edinburgh is one of this. When I booked my flight for Edinburgh I was delighted, I don't know for which reason, but Scotland always fascinated me. Unfortunately, two weeks before the departure I received some bad news, I was sad, and I didn't want to go. I was almost there to cancel everything and spend a tragic weekend at home; fortunately, my friend told me, screw everything, we are going to Edinburgh! I am so happy now to have been in this city because it is not only amazing, but I also spent a fantastic fun weekend.
In my opinion, Edinburgh is the most beautiful city I saw in the UK and for the first time, even if it was raining (weird), I enjoyed it. We arrived in the town with a very early flight on Saturday morning, not the best decision because at 8.30 am we were already in the city centre, and everything was still closed. After a long breakfast, we started to walk around the city. We hadn't any plan ready; we just wanted to enjoy the city, have a relaxing weekend and of course some funny days. I recommend visiting Edinburgh at the end of August (like I did it) because there are a lot of beautiful and interesting events.
I fell in love with Edinburgh; after a while, the sun appeared, and the city took a fantastic light, it became even more beautiful with illuminated dark Victorian palaces, bright green grass and drops of water everywhere brighten by the sun, a lovely spectacle.
Edinburgh is composed of the Old City at the top of a hill and all around the New City. Both of them are, from 1995, part of the UNESCO world heritage. In my opinion, the Old Town is the best part of the Scotland capital. It is in Medieval style, and it seems to still to walk in an ancient city with big, high palaces of bricks, a labyrinth of cobblestone streets, small and characteristic shops, charming and particular cafes and, of course, many pubs. Around 1700 the population started to grow up a lot, and there wasn't space for everyone so, in 1766 was decided to build a New City to host all the new population. The New Town is in Georgian style and the Old City more in Victorian style. They are linked from the principal street Royal Mile Street that exactly connect the Edinburgh Castell to The Holyrood Palace; it is called Royal Mile because there is precisely one mile between the two crucial building.
Edinburgh Must to See
At the top of the hill, at the end of the Royal Mile in the Old Town, we can find the Edinburgh Castle; it is situated in a strategic point and guards the whole city from above. I didn't visit the inside of the Castle, there were too many people, the queue was huge, and I didn't want to waste too much time; I decided to skip it but for my next time in Edinburgh will be perfect. The Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe, and it has a very long and turbulent story behind due to conquests by the British and after a short time regained by the Scots. During the Steward dynasty, the Castle became the royal house until they decided to move in another residency and the fortress remained unused for 40 years. When was decided to re-open the Castle, it became a military fortress until 1829. When it was open to the public and became the most crucial attraction of the city. If you plan to visit it, well let me know how it is!
We were walking in the city between the streets and pubs when we arrived at the Greyfriars Cemetery. I am not a fan of visiting cemeteries, but I immediately saw some tour guide dressed up as Harry Potter, and I thought that I needed to see what happened. We passed the gate, and we immersed ourselves in a gothic and mysterious air framed by green grass and a lot of tombs of famous Scottish people and prominent families of Scotland. I honestly have to say that some of these tombs were very creepy; some of them were almost abandoned with climbing grass and skulls. As you probably know Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling is originally from Edinburgh, and it seems that in this cemetery she took inspiration for some characters names. After a while of searching, I found the tomb of Thomas Riddle, on the book Tom Riddle and also the famous poet William McGonagall that inspired the surname for the Minerva McGonagall. In that period, I was obsessed with Harry Potter because I started to read the book in English, this time, and it was very nice found pieces that connected you to the book.
My curiosity brought me to the Britannia the Royal Yacht. The Yacht was the British Royal Family's house for over 40 years, it was launched in 1953 and brought the Royal Family and the many staff in over 135 countries, in 1997, after the last trip the Yacht has been anchored to the port and now tourists can visit it. The tour starts at the Visitor Centre where you can see pictures of the family in the boat, staff's uniforms and also the photos of the captains who led the Britannia. Before visiting the Yacht, you will receive an audio guide that explains every single step during the visit, from the Queen's apartment to the Engine Room passing through the quarters of commanders and simple sailors. The best part in my opinion, as a travel lover, has been the dining room used for special occasions, because there were a lot of relics that had been given to the Queen or King by other countries and tribes.
Top Things to do in Edinburgh
My first stop, to enjoy the city from a strategic position, was at Calton Hill. The hill is located in the New Town and to reach it there are some steps to climb, but when you get at the top, the panorama will make you forget the steps. On one side the old town with all the Victoria palace, the Scottish parliament and on the other hand the city of Leith. Calton Hill is not only a panoramic point, but in here you can also find The Observatory, the Nelson Monument and the National Monument of Scotland that seems like an Athens Pantheon and it is a tribute to Scots in the Napoleonic Wars. As I'm not too fond of museums for me, the best thing to do here is to take pictures of every single corner of the city because from up here, the view is impressive.
Always in the Old Town behind the Castle, we found Grassmarket an amazingly lively and colourful area with pubs, restaurants and that day there was also a lovely market of jewellery and food. Close to Grassmarket, there is the most beautiful historical street, Victoria street. It is a nice street with a line of colourful palaces with small windows. I did dozens of pictures, of course. I recommend this area for a beer break during your trip and why not for dinner.
- In the medieval to avoid people playing smart or stealing a Tron (the meaning is balance) was installed. It was used to weigh salt and if people cheated they were hung from the scales with their ears and when the levels were moving…well, imagine what was happening!
- In the Old Town, there is a pub called "The end of the world" because, in the past, the population thought that after the pub there was nothing else; the end of the world indeed.
- It seems that Victoria Street has been the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
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Looking for activities and tours in Edinburgh? I suggest you check out Get Your Guide. To find out more follow the link below and be inspired :)