Castles, bagpipes and ghosts

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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Road past the Balmoral to the Royal Mile

For this day I had just one goal, and one goal only: to explore Edinburgh. I heard a lot about this city and all of it was positive, so we took a taxi right to Princes Street, which is one of the main shopping streets, and stepped right into the center of the city.

Edinburgh (say: Edinbarrah) is built on hills and in valleys and no matter where you are in the city center, there are always roads above or below you. Right in the middle of the center there is Edinburgh castle, built on an extinct volcano. From there you have a magnificent (but windy) view over the entire city. From the castle, there is a main road going down down down to the Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Scotland King or Queen.

This road is called the The Royal Mile and is the beating heart of Edinburgh. I�m not sure if it is exactly a mile in length but I can assure you it is a long longer going up than it is going down, hehehe.

Around the castle volcano there is a central park that is actually a lot lower than the rest of the city and along it goes Princes Street, the main shopping street of Edinburgh. So from the street, looking across the park, you have amazing views of the castle at the other side. We entered the park in the early morning and it is really quiet down there and you can spot squirrels.

In the park there stands also the Scott Monument, built for the poet/writer Sir Walter Scott. This monument is a typical victorian gothic building that you would expect to be a church but it isn�t.
Scott Monument
It looks like, in the words of Bill Bryson, a victorian rocket ship. You can climb to the top to have an even greater view of the Edinburgh Castle. A little bit further there is the massive Balmoral Hotel and after that the big road that connects the Princes Street to the Royal Mile. JK Rowling finished her Harry Potter books in this hotel.

Speaking of Harry Potter, take another look at the Edinburgh Castle. It was used as a model for Hogwarts. The Castle was the first attraction we visited. It is quite big, almost like an entire village with numerous houses and towers. We also had a chance to take a look at the scottish Royal Jewels, a crown, a sceptre and a pretty big sword. It was forbidden to take pictures though.

It is quite jolly just to walk around the city.
Edinburgh Castle from the park
There are beautiful buildings all around you and there are people playing bagpipes and when you get tired, there is never a pub more than a few steps away. At lunch we tried another new beer, Innis & Gunn, oak flavored, which was quite agreeable.

In the afternoon I climbed another hill, the Calton Hill, behind the Balmoral Hotel. My friend Robbert began to get troubled by his ankle so he went back to the hotel to rest for a while. On top of the Calton Hill there is a little collection of monuments. There are two Greek like monuments named the National Monument and the Dugald Steward Monument and they both have a lot of pillars which is nice. There is also a lighthouse-like building named Nelson�s Monument. What is even better is the view from this hill.
View from Calton Hill
These are the same pictures you see in the magazines.

The day had not ended yet. In the evening Robbert joined me for a ghost tour! Edinburgh is one of the best cities in the world to do a ghost tour because even by daylight it looks ancient, medieval and mysterious. We left with a guide (who was an excellent storyteller, and somehow there was something mysterious about him all the time) and a group of tourists. He took us on a tour through the city, telling of horrible tortures that were inflicted on people and the bad conditions of medieval Edinburgh, and finally we entered a graveyard. It is quite an experience to enter a graveyard when it is dark! It is even better to visit the family crypts while a guide tells you of the hauntings and poltergeists that have been recorded at those places. On a Edinburgh cemetery you are never more than a few inches away from a corpse!

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Road past the Balmoral to the Roya…
Road past the Balmoral to the Roy…
Scott Monument
Scott Monument
Edinburgh Castle from the park
Edinburgh Castle from the park
View from Calton Hill
View from Calton Hill
photo by: vances