Edinburgh, Scotland (1) – History. Harry Potter. Haggis.
The theme of Scotland for me is friendship, generosity, and warmth (even though I was chilled to the bone most of the time). I looped in Scotland to this world tour because of bonds created on a trip down the Grand Canyon a year ago. A group of Scottish mates and their wives were on the trip, and I connected with a few of that crew and in particular, Julie Ogston, Ian (Spike) Sykes, and Rodney (Rod) Pashley.
Most of the Scottish men were part of the British Antarctic Survey in the 1970s. At that time, they were in their late 20s, early 30s, and their jobs ranged from engineering assistant to maintenance to meteorologists, but the common thread among the group is their dogsledding experience as well as storytelling, folk music, and climbing. They must have been pretty bad-ass back in the day. They are all still good looking older men in their late 70s who can command a room and keep your attention. I connected with Julie, the wife of Ian, and how this fantasy trip was able to come to life.
I started my Scotland tour in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, where Queen Elisabeth has her summer retreat, The Palace of Holyroodhouse. Her Majesty, who is 93 years old, makes personal appearances every summer at one of the local charities. I stayed in an Airbnb historic flat on the Royal Mile. It was very charming and comfortable with a living room that looked out on the Royal Mile and a tiny kitchen with a view of the courtyard. The antique bed was super comfy, and when it rained, which was a lot, I enjoyed sleeping in and having tea with milk in the living room. (so properly Scottish 😉 )
The Edinburgh town center feels like you are walking into a Harry Potter film with ancient stone storefronts, monstrous churches and hotels, dark ornamental pubs, statues, and brick streets. Incidentally, The Elephant House, in Edinburgh, is where J.K. Rawling wrote the Harry Potter series. There’s a lot to see in this town in regards to history, architecture, castles and historic pubs. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe wrapped-up just a few weeks before my arrival, but people were still talking about it. It’s a month-long festival that starts in August. A sprawling cornucopia of delights, oddities, sophistication, vulgarity, comedy, tragedy, and utter indescribability. The festival takes over the town. Still, the main events are located a 5-minute walk from the Royal Mile in the Meadows, a park-like area surrounded by a reclaimed and renovated hospital that is now high-end condos and the University of Edinburgh. There are tours of many themes available; Harry Potter, Historical, Haunted, Castle, City-wide, and many more. I chose to tour the city on a bike. We went through the city center, middle-class residential, beachfront boardwalk, harbor, renovated industrial locations, and then to the new downtown area, Prince Street, mostly on bike paths and back/side streets. I highly recommend you add this town to your bucket list.
1. The Tea – I’ve come to enjoy a proper tea multiple times a day and found myself preferring tea with milk over coffee in the morning. The coffee here is either expresso or instant coffee with milk.
2. I.J. Mellis Cheesemonger of Edinburgh – A fantastic cheese shop! So many options of goat, sheep, and cows cheese, sampling was divine and chose was very difficult.
3. Ricky’s Bicycle Tours – It was so much fun seeing the city on bikes!
4. The White Hart – It’s a tiny pub with a small bar, low ceiling, and packed with people. I ordered Haggis and a local pint. Pictures, posters, flags, beer, and gin ornaments cover the walls.
5. The Wine – Julie turned me on to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. It seemed as though every bottle I purchase is delicious and priced under 8£.
(photo below: The Meadows at sunset – Edinburgh)
Behind The Scenes
Still in the “new” phase of this travel trip. Everything is exciting, and I am so curious. I love people watching and learning about history. I find myself sleeping A LOT and then walking, exploring and taking photos until I drop. The swelling in my ankles is disappearing. The wet-cold of Scotland cuts right through the few “warm clothes” I brought on this trip. I seem to wear three layers all the time.
Enjoy the Climb!
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