Medieval streets, bagpipes & chatty Scottish cabbies.. what’s not to love about Edinburgh?
Edinburgh was one of those places that I really hoped I liked. You know, the place that has been one your bucket list for ages and you’ve really, really want to visit for whatever reason and when you finally get there, you just hope & pray that it doesn’t disappoint you.
In reality, Edinburgh actually exceeded my expectations.
My first real experience in Edinburgh was just after I arrived by train from London on a sunny Sunday afternoon in late August 2015. I had managed to find my way out of Waverley Station, find myself a cab and give instructions of where I was headed. As we stopped at lights on the corner of Waverley Bridge & Princes Street, I looked to my left and there was the ginormous Scott Monument and Princes Street Gardens but the thing that really caught my eye? A young lad dressed in full kilt on the corner, playing the bagpipes…
I was really in Edinburgh.
Over the next few days I marveled at the gorgeous architecture, saw the ever so mighty Forth Rail Bridge, ticked a massive bucket list item off by attending the Edinburgh Tattoo, dodged the crowds at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and came away with a lot more of an interest in my Scottish roots.
I really want to go back to Edinburgh, but definitely for longer so I can explore more of this vibrant and amazing city.
Here are a few things from my time in Edinburgh that helped make this city for me.
I love street signs – not sure where that comes from, but I saw some very cool street signs in Edinburgh – including some very familiar names. It always amazes me, going to the UK, just how much Australia & New Zealand have retained of their ‘motherland’ – even as something so simple as the names of their streets.
22 CHESTER STREET
Located in the West End/Haymarket area of Edinburgh and right around the corner from the impressive location marker of St Mary’s Cathedral; 22 Chester Street offered comfortable, reasonably priced accommodation along with superb service with friendly & helpful Lukasz at the helm. I completely fell in love with the sitting room with the large windows, super comfy sofas and little trinkets all over the place. A really lovely place to sit and unwind at the end of the day.
I love architecture. Especially historic architecture. I am always fascinated how they built these amazing structures without the help of modern technology. I honestly had no idea what to expect from Edinburgh – it was only in the previous 18 months that I discovered that Edinburgh’s New Town was not built in the modern 20th century, but in fact, built in between 1767 and 1850 – which is older than most buildings built in my home country of New Zealand. I was completely blown away by the detail and scale in the buildings in Edinburgh.
OUT TO SEA
Years ago I had seen a documentary on the building of the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh and I honestly thought I would never see this impressive structure for myself. My friend & I had got a deal on our hop on hop off bus ticket that included a boat ride on the Forth River itself. The first time I saw the bridge with my own two eyes, I audibly gasped. ‘Impressive‘ is really not the right word to describe the Forth Rail Bridge and I’m not going to attempt to come up with a better one but suffice to say, it has to be seen to be believed.
It really was a perfect day to be out on the water. We saw medieval abbeys, seals sunbathing & gnomes fishing.. not to mention quaint riverside villages. What a day!
Edinburgh is synonymous with royalty, you only have to look at street names to see it. Prince Street, Queen Street, George Street (named after, I’m assuming George IV whose statue is in a prominent place on George Street), The Royal Mile. There are also a couple of royal residences in the city; Palace of Holyroodhouse and of course, the most obvious royal icon that is Edinburgh Castle, perched high above the city watching over her subjects. You could definitely plan a trip to Edinburgh just to search out all the royal connections.
IT’S ALL A BIT SCOTTISH
It’s the little things sometimes, that really make a city distinct. I saw a lot of tartan & bagpipes in Edinburgh, which one would expect to see in the Scottish capital. But it was the little things like the word ‘wee’ in a shop title that really stood out to me.
THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO
Ever since I was a kid I have loved the bagpipges. I never really knew where this love of bagpipes came from. I’ve since learned that in the not to distant past, I have family on both my mother & father’s side that came from Scotland – specifically around the Edinburgh & Glasgow areas.. maybe something has been passed through the genes.
When I found out about the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo I knew one day I would have to see it for myself. Each year there is a theme to the Tattoo, and in 2015 the theme was East Meets West. This meant there were Bollywood dancers and a Chinese troupe complete with flowers that turned into a dragon – it really was quite the spectacle. There was also a USA flavour to the show, along with the famed Top Secret Drum Corps (who are quite mind blowing!).. however I was there for one thing, and one thing only… men in kilts playing bagpipes!
Edinburgh is definitely one of my favourite cities and I certainly did not have enough time to explore as much as I would have liked. It’s a place that I would love to go back to again and again.
To end, here is a quote that I found that I think perfectly sums up Edinburgh:
“EDINBURGH IS A CITY WHOSE HISTORY IS WRITTEN ON ITS FACE”
David Daiches, Introduction to Edinburgh a Traveller’s Companion, 1986