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Tuesday, 27 November 2012


"There is no habitation of human beings in this world so fine in its way... as this, the capital of Scotland".
Andrew Carnegie
"When I looked out in the morning it is as if I had waked in Utopia".
George Elliot
"Edinburgh (in my estimation the most beautiful city in Britain)"
HRH Prince Charles, A Vision of Britain, 1989
"A city that possesses a boldness and grandeur of situation beyond any that I have ever seen".
Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland MDCCLXIX, 1769
"What a wonderful City Edinburgh is! What alternation of height and depth".
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
"Spring gallant from the shadows of her smoke, Cragged, spired and turreted, her virgin fort 
R.L. Stevenson, Edinburgh from the South Seas

'' It's all fur coat and nae knickers''

A W Findlay, 2012

This was actually taken in Summer, but i thought i'd add it because i miss sunshine.

Basically, Edinburgh is permanently dark in winter. Adds to the atmosphere

Well well,  despite being a Glaswegian i'd say that i can't add more that what those greats of old have said about our esteemed capital. Theres no doubt about it, its a lovely looking city. It's easy to fall in love with. But of course, like dating a beautiful woman, you get bored after a while, especially when you look for substance (fortunately there's a train every 15 mins to Glasgow.)
But anyway, i'm not asking you to live there - do as i did, just go a wee holiday.
There are a million hostels on here for upwards of 7pounds a night for a dorm room. If you're on a bigger budget, say 20-80pounds a night, then best just look at, as its a small city and most places are an easy and pleasant walk away. It's on the luxury end that you really have a good choice - boutique hotel in New Town? try hotel missoni. Grand old pile with good views? The iconic Balmoral Hotel is just the ticket. As for me, well we just used hotwire and got a nice 3 star place for 30pounds a night for 2 people for the 3 star Point Hotel just under the castle and easy walk to everywhere.
Look, do you really want me to tell you about the good deals in Pizza Express ? Yes there are macdonalds, Starbucks etc. sure. But where the real action is at is The Witchery , just under the castle. There's also a good whisky shop, and tourist exhibition next door, called 'golden dawn' or something like that (or am getting mixed up with the Greek nazi party) We tried the whisky and cheese combo's there, which actually were great as it got me into drinking whisky the whole holiday, something which i haven't done before.  Edinburgh has a whole bunch of michelin starred restaurants that you should probably go to, since you're on holiday and you can pay off your credit card after the world ends in December...
As for Bars...where to start? Pretty much every street has a decent bunch. You can do a good pub crawl round the royal mile towards greyfriars bobby, or down in Leith if you like it rough and have read trainspotting. Next to Greyfriars Bobby there's a good folk music bar where randomers turn up with their fiddlers and get on with it (a bit like Scotia bar in Glasgow) Grassmarket and Rose Street are the traditional bars streets though do get a lot of tourists. Fortunately the tourists to Scotland, unlike Tallinn, tend not to be Italian postmen looking for wives, so they're usually ok.
Oh and if you haven't done so before, go and have some fish and chips, and get salt and sauce.
There is probably enough in this small city to spend a week in, if you like to take your time. Lets start with the cheap/free things -

- Walking around. Actually there's a wealth of interesting and historical things to see just walking about. You can see the school that inspired JK Rowling's Hogwarts (in fact you can visit the cafe where she allegedly wrote the first Harry Potter) But she's not the first writer to hail from Edinburgh. There are a whole load of bookshops around the strip bar area, strangely enough, snuggled under the castle around Bread Street - check out my pal Steve's place, called Pulp Fiction Books, its mostly sci-fi and weird stuff but worth going for a cup of tea. Robert Louis Stevenson (Treasure Island) JM Barrie (Peter Pan), Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and of course the creator of Inspector Rebus, Ian Rankin are all from here - if your into that kind of thing, i really recommend the literary bus tour, it leaves where all the other bus tours leave, (and the airport bus) just from outside Waverley Station. You can also of course walk up and down the Royal Mile, through the spine of the old town. At the bottom is the Parliament and the top is the castle, and in between there's the free Museum of Edinburgh (near the bottom) which is worth a look, and also a couple of churches if you're into that. the new Town is a different vibe altogether but actually apart from the squares and George Street, like Edinburgh generally, quite dull.
- Bus Tours. Yes and you could also put your hand in your pocket for once and splash out on a bus tour. Its only about a tenner and you get to see the city.

- The Scottish Parliament, Dynamic Earth, and Holyrood House. They're both next to each other. The parliament is a superbly ugly building which is primarily famous for costing about 400million pounds (God knows what on - they must have golden toilets) You can get a free tour though, why not?  Holyrood House is the Queens official Scottish Palace. Its basically another Buckingham Palace. Across the road is a well regarded 'Dynamic Earth'. It's a volcano/geography purpose built tourist attraction which looks like its mostly for kids, so i don't recommend it (unless you're Jimmy Saville.)

- Ghost Walk and the undercity. I'd say this is worth it for sure. there are whole streets buried underneath the Old Town, where, who knows you can see ghosts. They meet around Royal Mile (you'll see the signs) and also there's a 'free' one at the Grassmarket, although you should give the guy a tenner tip.

- Museum of Scotland. This is massive and recently renovated and probably the best thing to see in the city, at least for free. It has about 6 levels and basically takes a whole rainy day to see it all. Across the road is the Geryfrairs Bobby cemetery - an interesting diversion for 10 minutes and worth a wee look (google it!)

the ghost walk, Edinburgh

Winter Sunset, awww 

- National Gallery of Scotland (and the Portrait Gallery) the National Gallery is on a great site, on Princess Street. You can't miss it. It's not bad for an afternoon, and has a bunch of famous international pieces as well as some cool Scottish landscapes. The portrait Gallery is tucked away back from the New Town so get to it on the tour bus. 
- Scott Monument. You get a great view from here, if your not afraid of heights and like to walk up about a million steps. The photo at the top of this post is from here.
- Edinburgh Castle. It's not cheap - from memory about 15 quid. But its a great afternoon out with a good view. You can see the crown jewels of Scotland, and discover lots about our tragic and beautiful history. 
- Royal Yacht Britannia, Leith. Well its a little bit out the centre and to honest its just a little boat, sitting in a quite ugly looking dock. But if thats what your into then go ahead.
- Rosslyn Chapel - This is outside of Edinburgh, just beside the Rosslyn Institute, of 'Dolly the Sheep' clone fame. It's a strange strange place and was made famous by 'The Davinci Code'. It's on a ley line and is full of strange spooky carvings and of course was built by a family of freemason templars...the templars were said to have come to Scotland in the early 1300's having been kicked out of everywhere else (which, people say is why Scottish King Robert Bruce alledgely an ancestor of mine if you believe trounced the wimpy English King Edward 2nd (the gay one in Braveheart) at the battle of Bannockburn) Getting the Templars on your side back then would be like the Gazan's getting a Nuclear bomb basically.

Anyway, you can read and see all about that Battle and even more history in Stirling Castle, and the Battle site centre, just outside nearby Stirling.
'in every port in the world, at least one Estonian can be found.' - Ernest Hemingway

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