Touring Edinburgh

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

It's been awhile since my mom and I took a trip together, just the two of us. We were due for a girls trip. We decided to immerse ourselves in our Scottish roots and take our mother/daughter trip to Scotland. 

We arrived to Edinburgh in the morning and headed straight to our hotel. Our room was not quite ready so we freshened up in their spa changing rooms, then hit the ground running. 

With only two full days in Edinburgh we had to make the most of our time. Our hotel, The Radisson Blu, was on one of the most popular streets in Edinburgh, the Royal Mile. We were within walking distance to all the major attractions, restaurants, and bars which was so convenient. 

The streets were bustling. August is one of the busiest times in Edinburgh due to the Fringe Festival (worlds largest arts festival) and the Military Tattoo that takes place each year during this time. 

Our first stop of the day was to Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Edinburgh. I found this tour to be very interesting. The tour highlights all the royals who claimed the chambers as home, the most popular being Mary, Queen of Scots. What a life she led! Yowza! The tour takes about one hour and comes with an audio guide. Admission is about $20. I actually preferred this over the Edinburgh Castle. 

Making our way back up the Royal Mile we passed many street performers due to the Fringe Festival taking place. Some playing music, some performing skits, and then some standing on platforms in bathing suits because, well, art. We were in full tourist mode so didn't have much time to stand around and gawk at all the interesting spectacles taking place. 

Hidden underground street that was once open to the world, stories of those that once called the street home, stories of plague and death...say no more, sign us up! This is the Mary King's Close Tour. Now, let me just say this, I usually don't do well with tours. I tend to zone out and lose focus on what the tour guide is speaking about while taking in my surroundings. This tour was different and held my attention up until the very end. So informative and fascinating. The cost of the tour was about $20 and lasts one hour. 

After the tour we were growing tired and hungry. We stopped in a local pub and ordered a round of meat pies. Then proceeded to our hotel to check in and take a little rest before heading out to explore more of the city. 

Explore we did. We wandered the streets, guide book in hand, and took in all of the beauty the city offered. Edinburgh is dark and mysterious. The key ingredients to an extraordinary love affair. I fell hard for this city. Two days was not nearly enough. 

The next day we planned on arriving to Edinburgh Castle early to beat the crowds. It seemed as though we weren't the only ones with this plan.

Edinburgh Castle is located hillside offering panoramic views of the city. The castle is the most visited tourist attraction in all of Scotland so crowds are inevitable. We took a guided walking tour first that runs every twenty minutes to get the lay of land. We quickly got in line for the Crown Jewels when we saw that it thinned down a bit. Thank goodness we did because the line grew substantially afterwards, thirty to forty minute wait at least. For me, the crowds took away from the experience. I preferred viewing from afar. 

The weather in Scotland is really unpredictable. It usually rains a bit each day. When the rain stops and the clouds start to clear you have to take full advantage. We made our way to Arthur's Seat in Holyrood Park. Due to all the walking we were doing we didn't actually make it all the way up but the views were still great. 

One of the main highlights of our time in Edinburgh was the Royal Military Tattoo (occurs annually in August). With Edinburgh Castle as the backdrop, military bands, and dancers from across the globe come together to put on an epic show. The sounds of drums, bag pipes, and other instruments erupt in unison. Each country showcases a part of their culture through music, costumes, and dance. In the finale everyone comes together, fireworks fill the night sky, and everyone in the crowd is left in awe. It was a great way to end our time in Edinburgh. Make sure that you book well in advance as tickets sell out.