I can not omit my visit to Edinburgh. It was back in 2009, but this city deserves to be mentioned on my blog. I don’t wanna amaze you with some historical fact, boasting how much I know on the Scottish history. Instead, this is Edinburgh the way I remember it, from the very moment I walked out of the station into the pleasant rainy weather.
Summer of 09
In the summer of 2009 I was working in London. But I also wanted to visit other places in the UK, attracted mainly by York and his connection with the British history and Vikings. Many people from my neighbourhood were speaking highly of Edinburgh, literally one of the best places they had ever visited. Next day I went to the station to book the tickets to York. However, I came back with a return ticket to the Edinburgh Waverley Station. Train leaves from the Harry Potter station (King’s Cross) and the track runs through York. I will try to take a snap of the cathedral from the train.
Waverley, Whisky and the writers
The journey takes about four and half hours. I set out at seven in the morning, spent my time on the train reading a National Geography tour guide on Britain – I highly recommend. It includes map of Edinburgh with detailed walking tour around all the sight. I had exactly six and half hours to catch as much of the city as possible, therefore I synchronized my program with the guide. Soon, the train approached the Edinburgh Waverley Station and I walked out to the street, to be welcomed by the typical Scottish weather: moderate but biting rain called „drizzle“. Another tourist might have been outraged, but for me it only added to the historical, slightly mysterious atmosphere. So did the tones of the piper who was playing on the street.
Edinburgh has a population f about 500,000. City is divided into two parts. The modern, where you can find shops and branch offices of big companies. Nevertheless, I was interested in the historical city. My first stop was the Monument of Walter Scott, Romantic writer know for his historical novels. From there, I climbed the stairs to the castle. There was a stage and tribune in the process of construction, because it was few days to the Military Tattoo festival held every August.
The Royal Mile
From the castle I got down to the main street, the Royal Mile. On the right, I visited the Museum of Whisky and could not leave out the Writer’s Museum. Apart from Walter Scott, it is devoted to the work and life of Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Burns. Stevenson wrote the Treasury Island – the story with the one-legged pirate. Robern Burns is the Scottish national poet. Once I listened to a Scotsman reciting one his poems and the man was almost crying.
Slowly, I approached the city centre. McDonalds, Starbucks and various recognized brand outlets that belong to the colourite of any metropolis. But there were also many shop where you can buy the traditional Scottish garment. The street was full of people and emitted lively atmosphere. Yet it was different from the critical mass of London, where, time to time, you have to make your way by pushing people aside.
The Heart of Midlothian
I was looking for the „Heart of Midlothian“. Walter Scott wrote eponymous novel. It is a heart-shaped mosaic built into the pavement of the Royal Mile. In the past, it marked the doorway to the jail. I could not find it, because it was covered by the feet of the people. During my search, I managed to see the show of an Australian artist. He was about to perform backflip from a ladder across a hoop of fire. But all his preparation and showmanship was so awesome that it deserves separate article, as well as he deserved all the collected money – none of which would be spent on drugs – as he assured.
Finally, I discovered the heart, not far from the St Giles‘ Cathedral. On the other side of the street is a statue of David Hume.
You might think that I am switching between the sights too fast, but the historical centre really offers exciting suggestions at every turn. Feeling hungry, I stopped at a small fast food restaurant. Prices were lower that in London. I went for the traditional Scottish haggis, a sheep stomach stuffed with pluck (heart, liver and lungs), vegetables, oatmeal and spices. However, it looked like the hash-and-crumb sausages we make in Slovakia after killing a pig. I am not sure about the authenticity of the haggis, because the restaurant was not of highest standard. To tell the truth, the guy put my haggis into a take away box with chips and ketchup. After my coulinary experience, I visited the Museum of Edinburgh, to ingest something of the city’s history.
Little bit of history and monarchy
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland. Foundations of the settlement are dated back to the iron age. During the middle ages, it served as a royal burgh. In 18th century, the city experienced it’s renaissance, being the focal point of the British Enlightenment. Thence the nickname the ‚Athens of the North‘. Now, it is one of the main business centres in Europe and the seat of the Scottish Parliament.
Many important personalities were born or worked in Edinburgh. For example, Adam Smith, the father of the modern economy; and Robert Adam, the architect. The already mentioned philosopher David Hume, writers Irvine Welsh, Ian Banks, J.K. Rowling, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter Scott and the doctor who wrote Sherlock Holmes – sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Even the recent British prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown come from Edinburgh, or the nearby area.
From the museum I walked to the end of the Royal Mile. There stands the Palace of Holyrood, one of Queen‘ s residences in Scotland. Opposite the residence is the new Scottish Parliament, an disaster of architecture criticized by many. Really, the ultramodern building with the roof like that of a hockey stadium only hurts the historical panorama of the city.
Highlands in small
Behind the city, towering the Firth of Forth, is an oasis of hills, lakes and cliffs – the Hollyrood Park. It resembled the Scottish Highlands, although I know them only from pictures. Rest of my time in Edinburgh I spent by climbing the cliffs and taking pictures. Few minutes to five, I rushed to the Waverley Station to catch my train to London. Yer, the six and half hour were worth it. Edinburgh really is a nice city and I will come back, once. There are few more things to see and visit, for example the coffee house, where J.K Rowling started writing Harry Potter. Apart from that, I did not manage to make a picture of the York Cathedral.