Scintillating Scotland – June 2015

I was visiting London for a short period of time in 2015 and therefore decided to spend a weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. The capital of Scotland has so much to offer, from fascinating history, to bags of culture, gorgeous views, delicious food and drinks to its warm, friendly people, it won my heart even though the visit was short.I took a flight from London to Edinburgh and on my arrival checked into my hotel but there was no time to waste, as I had to get going for what I had planned for my short stay here.Here are few things that I experienced in my two days in Edinburg:
1. Walking City Tour – The easiest way to get to know any place is to indulge yourself in one of the walking tours that start from specific parts of the city and its ‘pay what you can’ operated. These walks usually last around 2 hours, accompanied by well informed guides and takes you through various historical places including walking by the Castle, Greyfriars Kirkyard, the Royal Mile and Grassmarket.You can also opt to take one the many themed walks that are available such as the Ghost tour that starts in the evening around 5 pm and 7 pm everyday or the 1.5 hour Harry Potter themed city tour which is a must for a Harry Potter fan like myself. (Unfortunately it was cancelled for the weekend that I was there, but not to worry, I did explore it on my own).Once you explore the town on this walk, you really get to understand where your interest lies and thus you can later go and visit places of your interest for a long time period.
2. Greyfriars Kirkyard – is a peaceful oasis in the center of Edinburgh with beautifully cared out tombstones. It’s most famous resident being – Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog that guarded its former master’s grave in the graveyard for 14 years. It also is supposedly where author JK Rowling got a few ideas for names in the Harry Potter series.
3. Cultural Evening – You can inquire around some hotels that offer a true Scottish cultural Evening. For about £30-£50, you can book yourself one of these and it includes limited seating for guests with food, drinks and cultural performances.
It is during this evening that while enjoying the sounds of bagpipe, I tasted Haggis for the very first time (Not a fan).
4. Royal Mile – Another famous attraction in Edinburgh is the Royal Mile. Although, attraction may not be the right word for it since its not a singular thing but a whole area of things to explore from pubs to tartan shops and its usually filled with street performers. As you walk along the Royal Mile, you can stop by St. Giles Cathedral, which is a 14th century cathedral with its crown shapes steeple. The exteriors captivate your attention and draw you to it and when you enter inside, the stained glass windows and the pretty blue ceiling captures your soul.
5. Castle of Edinburgh – sits at the top of the Royal mile and is one of the most popular sights but the entry to the castle can be as high as £16-£20 for adults.
6. Victoria Street – I’ve never seen a street so breath taking! You can perch yourself by a café overlooking the street below with all its vibrant colours and just enjoy the hustle that is weirdly satisfying.
7. Scottish Drink – Let’s face the facts, the Scottish are known for their drinking capacity and fine Whisky. Therefore, as an adult it is a must if you visit Edinburgh. I am not a Whiskey drinker however, fellow travellers who I met while at a café (Yes, cafes pretty much stop serving coffee after 6pm and serve hard alcohol) said, that they do have some of the finest drinks. The Scotch Whisky Experience near the castle is where a guided tour commences with a whisky taster or you can drop by any Whisky Rooms for a tasting session for about £25 per person.
8. Harry Potter Tour – JK Rowling for most part of her life lived and wrote in Edinburgh and there this is the mecca for all Harry Potter fans. Victoria Street mentioned above may or may not have inspired Rowling with the idea of Diagon Alley. There is loads of Harry Potter themed shops from where you can buy everything you need to start your schooling at Hogwarts. Many tombstones at the old cemetery close by to the café she sat and wrote inspired many names in her series. The George Heriot’s School is also where some of the shooting for the school took place. The Elephant House Café proclaims itself as “The Birthplace of Harry Potter” and is where Rowling sat down and put her imagination to words. The cakes here are really good, and the cafe interior is cozy. If you can snag a seat by a window, you’ll get a pretty great view of Edinburgh Castle (something Rowling loved about this spot).
9. Evening Ghost Tour –Edinburgh has always had a slightly spooky and witchy past (the city is almost 1000 years old, after all, and used to routinely burn and drown witches), so signing up for a ghost tour is basically mandatory. There are a variety of different spooky tours you can try, from ones that take you down into the city’s underground vaults after dark, to walking tours that focus on the city’s “darkside.”
When the sun’s shining, Edinburgh has plenty of parks and outside spaces to explore. Laying in the shadow of the castle the manicured lawns and flower beds of Princes Street Gardens, which make a good spot for a picnic.If you’re planning on visiting a lot of Edinburgh attractions, it might be worth investing in a city pass. The Edinburgh City Pass gives entry to 23 attractions and tours including the Edinburgh Dungeon, Zoo and Scott Monument, as well as an airport transfer, hop-on hop-off bus tour and a Forth boat tour. There are versions available for one day (£45 adults/£20 children), two days (£55 adults/£26 children) or three days (£65 adults/£30 children).

Overall, Edinburgh was the solace I was looking for.

The land of Kilts, Bagpipes and quirky stories made me fall in love with its architecture, culture and serenity.

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