Free day in Edinburgh!

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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The weirdest thing when I woke up in the morning was, how come no one around me is getting ready! That's when I realised that it's our free day off, and we've got the whole day in Edinburgh for ourselves. On my previous visit here, I'd made the mistake of doing that Hop On / Hop Off bus when in reality, all the highlights are on the Royal Mile (as I recently discovered) and you don't really need a bus as it's all walkable. Infact I'd recommend it! 

Breakfast was had at Belushi's Bar, was particularly terrible (eggs and bread toast) but enough to get my motors running for the morning session. Went for a window shopping round along St.Princess street. This is quite a wide street for UK standards.

Royal Mile - heart of Fringe activities
I'd say it's a lot wider than even the likes of Oxford Street in London. It also gets rather busy with a blend of tourists, locals, kids, people headed for work, etc.

Had a light snack @ Greggs (oh how I missed this place, surprisingly I don't believe I've seen a single Greggs in London or in England for that matter). It was a sandwich - cake feast, not so filling but felt light and energised. Headed back for another round of window shopping (I wasn't feeling  too well so bought myself some cough drops at Boots') and headed back to the hostel by 1pm.

How time flies when you're in E'bgh!

I checked with the Tattoo office right across the street if they had any free tickets for the Military Tattoo that night, they told me to check back later.

Another shot of the Royal Mile
I had decided I wasn't going to miss it as I'd seen it back in 2003 and enjoyed it so much, just sitting by the colourful castle lit in different hues at night, and seeing all those groups from different countries put on a military display.

I then headed in the other direction now to the Royal Mile (how convenient being in such a centrally located hostel). The FRINGE fever was on and MY GOD! I suddenly felt MY fever disappear! I was feeling fit, just walking through this street. During Fringe, they expect so much of crowd that a lot of the streets are cordoned off from traffic and exclusive pedestrian only streets. The other nice part is it's a global meet which means you have all kinds of people, dressed in their native uniforms at times add to the usual set of tourists who are always visiting this city.

Edinburgh Castle
Most of the people who perform at FRINGE are up and coming artisans so obviously they don't have a strong PR machine to promote their work. They have to do it on their own. They pretty much enact their plays by night, and during morning they're in the same character's clothes handing out pamphlets and stuff to people on the street.

I believe I spent about 45 minutes just smelling the roses here, enjoying and feeling this rush of energy being right there, in the centre. I finally had to PUSH myself to visiting the Edinburgh Castle. How I missed spending time in this castle 2 years ago is beyond me. I had seen it from afar and felt satisfied thinking I'd seen it. LOL! But this time I wasn't going to miss it. And thanks to my DK Eyewitness book, I knew how to organise my trip once I'm inside the castle as it had a top 10 of things to see.

inside Edinburgh Castle

Thanks to the Tattoo, there was pandemonium going on at the Castle. On one hand you have people putting up the stalls, tons and tons of policemen, tourists going in, coming out, just chaos. I loved it. Living in a quiet and spacious Dallas, I'd forgotten what it's like having crowds. It's ironic, the kind of peace one finds in chaos.

Anyway, bought the ticket, and headed inside. Everything was as described in DK inc the Castle plan. My only suggestion is next time these travel books had better take pictures of the humungous crowds as well! LOL, there were just so many all around. But worked for me, lots of people that I could ask to take my picture! The Castle as such is huge and I've always maintained that this and Stirling Castle are my two favourite Castles in the UK.

View of the city from the Castle
I started off as everyone does, at the Argyle Battery. Wow, the defence views, the cannon machines ( though they look like replicas), Mons Meg (mega mega cannon, see picture below), etc - everything was all too wicked. From here, I went to St.Margaret's Chapel which for me was small and a bit of an anticlimax sadly. You can't take pictures inside, not that you'd need to. It has a history but beyond that, it's just another pocket Chapel.

From here, made my way to the Crowl Jewels and Stone of Destiny. Such a majestic courtyard holding these buildings. You know, hats off to the Scots! All these centuries later and the castle looks so much intact. I think that's creditable - they were warriors and never got defeated! <g> I didn't care too much for the Great Hall.

View of St.Princess St
I also hate the fact (not that I'm  blaming the authorities) that in these 'Halls' in palaces, they cordon off half of the floor to "preserve" it  and so you have a bunch of tourists moving helter skelter in the limted space available.

The next delightful piece for me was the Prison Vaults. I did find the replica bit a bit cheesy, with all those voices talking in different accents (my! the American prisoner's voice sounded like he worked at CNN before being caught by the Scottish army and held at the Castle, LOL) but the setup itself was great. I don't believe however that these are the original sets. If they were, then I wouldn't mind having been a prisoner myself. Some of the cells were quite airy and sunny!

It was about 3-30pm when I was done and decided to head out of the Castle and back to Royal Mile, there still was a lot to see!

I was hungry (God I eat a lot, don't I!).

Mongs Meg at Edinburgh Castle

Late late lunch was pasta and anchovies at this Italian place on Royal Mile (Gordon's Trattoria) before taking a roundabout walk till the end of Royal Mile ( the Hollyrood Palace end) and went back to the hostel from there. I stopped by the Tattoo office, and.....! They had a spare ticket! I snapped it for dear life, headed back to my room and had a good warm shower.

It rained a bit in the evening (who's complaining, for Scotland standards, there wasn't a drop all day which is a good thing) but no worries, I spent all  evening sitting outside a coffee shop looking onto the Royal Mile and the acts performing things on the street. Just lovely, seems the city never sleeps during the Fringe!

I headed to the Castle with the rest of the group around 7pm to get ready for the Tattoo.

Crowns Jewel and the Stone of Destiny
It was as expected - crowded and a variety of crowd. I also love how the announcer lets people cheer when he yells out their country name. England, Canada and the US seemed to be the loudest of cheers.

Tattoo began promptly, usual set of great acts with the highlight being  a motercycle act enacted by England. One of the nice things about the Tattoo is how they explain how the United Kingdom was born by showing the 2 flags merging. Infotaining. The Tattoo got done by 10:30pm and I headed back to the hostel. Drinks that night were in St.Belushi's Bar itself. And a final round of goodbyes as a lot of people were headed back to England that night, or were headed on other trips across Scotland (inc myself). I also had to do my laundry.

Slept by 2am that night, with an alarm set for 7am.

Edinburgh Castle
Was five hours of sleep enough? I thought so, it seemed that I'd spent the last week with a great set of people to a point that I can't even remember how the seven days just flew away. I was thinking to myself, what will the next set of backpackers going to be like? Will they be as enjoyable as this lot?

The last thing I did that night was stare at St.Princess Street from my window...again! Two years ago, I never thought I'd return. Now I have. So my final thought for that day was "I'll be back"!

tvillingmarit says:
Ohh Edinburg, here I come
Posted on: Jul 29, 2007
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The FRINGE banner
The FRINGE banner
Royal Mile - heart of Fringe activ…
Royal Mile - heart of Fringe acti…
Another shot of the Royal Mile
Another shot of the Royal Mile
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
inside Edinburgh Castle
inside Edinburgh Castle
View of the city from the Castle
View of the city from the Castle
View of St.Princess St
View of St.Princess St
Mongs Meg at Edinburgh Castle
Mongs Meg at Edinburgh Castle
Crowns Jewel and the Stone of Dest…
Crowns Jewel and the Stone of Des…
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Prison vaults
Prison vaults
FRINGE
FRINGE
FRINGE
FRINGE
Rainbow over Waverley Station
Rainbow over Waverley Station
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh Military Tattoo
Edinburgh
photo by: vances