09.12.2013 - 15.12.2013 11 °C
Edinburgh, Scotland – tartan, cashmere, castles and bagpipes. We arrived in Edinburgh late in the afternoon. Feeling exhausted after a long drive which took us through the Lakes District of England and up through Ayr before coming across to Edinburgh. Everyone was a bit grumpy, so we decided to have a quiet night in and explore this new city in the morning.
After a good rest we headed to Edinburgh Castle. The castle is the centrepiece of the city sitting at the top of a mountain that was once a volcano. After a tour of the castle we walked down the Royal Mile – a famous strip leading from the castle to the Queens Palace. We didn’t quite make the mile, but we passed plenty of shops, restaurants and pubs in the process.
It was when the sun went down that Edinburgh looked its best. The castle is beautifully lit up and the streets were full of Christmas lights and once again there were the Christmas Markets. The markets were the same as those at London and Bath, though on a smaller scale. Couldn’t resist a Nutella and banana crepe.
The next day we headed to Stirling Castle, about a 50 minute drive outside of Edinburgh. We had heard that this castle was better than Edinburgh Castle and we found this to be true. The palace, home to Mary Queen of Scotts has been beautifully restored and our time there had been very hands on.
Our last day in Edinburgh and we headed to The Royal Yacht Britannia – my favourite attraction so far. Being a royalist, it was surreal being on the yacht that the Royals holidayed on until it was decommissioned in 1997. Access was given to the Queens bedroom, the sitting room and the dining room that had hosted amongst others, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela. Personal photographs of the Royals were everywhere to be seen.
Finally we summoned up some energy and headed up to Arthurs Chair. After about 40 minutes of hell, we arrived at the top and were greeted by extremely strong winds together with a magnificent view of Edinburgh. It was worth the effort.
Edinburgh was great but I can see that it is a city that would suit singles or young professional couples yet to have kids. Lots of cafes, restaurants and bars, perhaps we should have come here 20 years ago.
Next we headed to Newcastle for two days so the boys could experience more English football and a low point in our accommodation (cold shower with no pressure and a breakfast even Maple would reject). Newcastle appears to be about Football and shopping, as its two biggest Tourist attractions are promoted as St James Park and the Metro Shopping Centre. The girls are all fake tans and over the top make up!
We visited the Newcastle United Football Academy through invitation and watched some up and coming 15 year olds play while we froze our butts off! Bret and Ben then headed to St James Park with 52,000 mad Geordies to watch Newcastle against Southampton. It was The Hobbit for Ryan and myself.
Next stop York.