This past Autumn I visited “Auld Reekie,” better known to the world as Edinburgh. This was my second visit to the capital city of Scotland.
Unlike my first visit, which was only an overnighter, I had the chance to really explore the city and its wonders. My stay in the city was only for the weekend, but it came after a whirlwind tour of the Highlands.
I decided to step out of my comfort zone, foregoing a stay in a swanky hotel and instead staying a flat I found on Airbnb. My experiences with this AirBnB deserves its own post, where I described my inner feelings about Airbnb. But back to my exploration of Edinburgh.
Of course, the first place I “had to” visit was Edinburgh Castle. After a whirlwind tour of Scottish castles, (which I will discuss in my Hidden Gems series), I wasn’t looking forward to yet another castle visit, even if it is one of the most famous in history. However, I will say now my visit to Edinburgh Castle was truly lovely.
Word of advice: Get there as early as possible and buy your tickets online before you go. I arrived at least 45 minutes early, with a prepaid ticket, and the place was really crowded even before the gates open. Trust me, buy your ticket online. You don’t want to just show up and purchase your ticket at the gate. You can if you like, but you’ll lose valuable time waiting in the queue.
What I really loved is the history of the place and I marveled at the tapestries and the art as I walked the historic halls – the same halls the Kings and Queens of Scotland walked. I especially loved the One O’Clock Gun. Another tidbit of advice – if this is something you wish to see, I’d suggest finding a lovely viewing spot thirty minutes prior to avoid being squashed or having your photos/video clips ruined by late comers.
Next on the list was walking down the “Royal Mile,” which is actually a Scottish mile and 1 mile and 107 yards. The first time I visited, I made the mistake and walked UP the Royal Mile, and my legs still haven’t forgiving me for that blunder, lol. Walking down the Royal Mile was an adventure in itself. Not only did I have to navigated the crowds, but I also had to keep the shopaholic in me from bursting out and buying everything in sight. I didn’t quite succeed, but I didn’t max out the credit card either, lol.
After a quick meal at the Filling Station, I continued down to The Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen’s official residence in Edinburgh and the home of Scottish royal history is truly a must see when visiting the capital.
My only wish would be more opportunities and rooms where pictures are allowed, but it is understandable why photos aren’t allowed inside the palace.
Following the palace visit, I decided to visit some little-known attractions, The People’s Story Museum & The Museum of Edinburgh.
I’d read The People’s Story was unique in that it focused on Edinburgh’s working-class people from the 18th century to the late 20th century. Being part of the American working class, there’s an unspoken kinship between working folks. Thus, I made it a priority to visit this museum. Housed in the Canongate Tollbooth, a Royal Mile landmark built in 1591, the building itself had numerous incarnations including conducting burgh affairs, collecting taxes and as a jail.
While the building’s place in history is charming, it wasn’t the reason I wanted to visit. Many of the museums I visit focus on art, paintings and famous people. I love the fact The People’s Story was all about regular folks (like me) and what their struggles. I loved the layout of the museum; it took me on a journey from the humble beginnings as a jail to the 20th century and the “punk” area.
What I loved mostly was hearing the words of Edinburgh’s people from their own mouths. The displays and recreations were fascinating, but hearing it from the mouths of the people who lived it was chilling and captivating. If visiting Edinburgh, make time to visit The People’s Story.
Not too far from The People’s Story is the Museum of Edinburgh. This museum wasn’t high on my list to visit, but I had time to spare before dinner, I decided to check it out. And why not – entry was free (I wish more American museums offered free entry).
Housed in Huntly House, which I learned was featured on a Season 3 episode of Outlander, the museum focuses on the capital’s origins, history and legends. The highlight of the museum is an original copy of the National Covenant of 1638. The museum was a maze of exhibits and unique aspects of the city’s history. Another highlight was James Craig’s original plans of the New Town. It’s interesting to see the original plans, knowing how the city has developed since then.
There were a few other tidbits, but again this museum didn’t really tickle my fancy. However, I recommend a visit simply because you’ll learn something new, and you can’t beat the price of entry.
Don’t worry, I have more to say about my visit to “Auld Reekie,” including my Airbnb adventure and grocery shopping.
As always …
HAVE PASSPORT, WILL TRAVEL!
Check out this short video from The Big Journey Company, who arranged the tour of Edinburgh and Scotland.