jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 12 [10 Feb 09] – Edinburgh

Posted in Edinburgh by jn82 on February 11, 2009

In Edinburgh, we stayed at Castle Rock Hostel. The location of the is right smack beside Edinburgh Castle, situated towards one end of the Royal Mile. It is not hard to see why this is the top rated hostel in Scotland for 2008, although it does have some minor issues which could be improved upon such as fixing their WiFi, having curtains around dorm beds for more privacy as well as power sockets in rooms. This is the view from the hostel entrance.

 

Hostel and the Castle.

View

 

Almost all the sights on the Old Town are walkable from here, so getting around is very easy, no need for public transport even. Having the morning free, we decided to cross the bridge and head into the New Town for a look around and breakfast. Next stop was to The Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence and place of business when she is in Edinburgh. Along with Edinburgh Castle, this palace has a very long history behind it and many Scottish royals have resided there and have had official functions held there. Photography is prohibited inside the palace itself, so only pictures from the outside are available.

 

Front of the palace.

Holyroodhouse Palace

 

Entrance to the palace.

Entrance

 

Rear of the palace, the ruined Augustinian Abbey.

 

Augustinian Abbey

 

After the palace and lunch, we joined a free walking tour of the city, provided by neweuropetours.eu, as this was probably the best and cheapest way to catch all the highlights in the remainder of the time we had left. This is a company which believes that each major city should have a free walking tour for tourists!

 

St. Giles Cathedral.

St. Giles

 

Edinburgh Castle, atop a dormant volcano Castle Rock.

Castle

 

Covenanters’ Prison, in Greyfrianrs Kirkyard.

Covenanters’ Prison

 

J.K. Rowling created Harry Potter and his friends right here in Edinburgh, and the walking tour passed a couple of notable locations which would interest Harry Potter fans.

 

Where she wrote.

The Elephant House

 

The original inspiration for Hogwarts, George Heriot’s School.

Hogwarts

 

Now time for a condensed short story that dog lovers all around the world should and might know. There once was a man called John Grey who was a warden at the gravewayd, and he had a little dog. When he died one day, his little dog waited by his grave headstone everyday for the next 14 years of its life waiting for its master to return. This is the story of Greyfriar’s Bobby.

 

Greyfriar’s Bobby Monument.

Bobby

 

Having some time after the tour before dinner, we decided to head to the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre. This is a place owned by nearly all the different whisky makers in Scotland to give visitors a chance to learn about Scotch whisky. During the 40 minute tour, we were educated on the process of making single malt and blended whisky, as well as how to taste and differentiate between whiskys. Thoroughly worth the £7.50 entry fee, and we were even given a whisky glass which retailed for £5.00 in the shop.

 

40 different amounts and types of whiskys that go in to a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label!

Red Label

 

Very expensive whiskys in the shop.

Expensive whisky.

 

At the end of the day, I decided to be brave and give Haggis a try. There are many recipes, most of which have in common the following ingredients: sheep’s ‘pluck’ (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal’s stomach for approximately three hours. It was not actually as bad as I expected, as the strong spices masked the taste of whatever disgusting bits were in it.

 

Haggis!

Haggis

 

Link to full gallery of pictures from today available here.

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Day 11 [9 Feb 09] – Edinburgh

Posted in Edinburgh by jn82 on February 10, 2009

Today we took at four and a half hour long train ride from King Cross St. Pancreas to Edinburgh’s Waverley Station. The trip itself was pretty smooth, and the National Express trains have power sockets and free WiFi onboard (albeit pretty slow when many people log on simultaniously).

Upon arrival in Edinburgh.

Train

Could not check into the hostel until 2pm, so went for lunch and decided to do some power sightseeing of Edinburgh Castle after because we would only be in the city for less than two days in total. The castle was located smack beside the hostel and just a few minutes from the train station, so it was all very accessable.

Token tourist shot outside the castle entrance.

Castle

There are also amazing views of the city from all sides of the castle, an advantage due to the castle’s central location in the city.

Views from the castle entrance.

View

View

View

The castle was filled with amazing history, mostly surrounded many wars and attacks on the castle and its residents. Also inside were the Honours of Scotland, the Scottish rown Jewels. No photography allowed here, and I was also unable to sneak a picture. The Honours of Scotland are not as impressive as the English Crown Jewels (no huge diamonds here), but they are older and have a similarly long history.

Can’t remember what this was called.

Castle

View of Authur’s Seat.

Authur's Seat

The castle also houses what is believed to be the oldest building in Scotland, St. Margaret’s Chapel.

Exterior of St. Margaret’s Chapel.

St Margaret's Chapel (Outside)

Interior of the chapel.

St Margaret's Chapel Interior

Updates for the next one or two days might be a bit slow because I do not have a good internet connection in Edinburgh.

Link to full gallery of today’s pictures available here.