Edinburgh, oh Edinburgh

There he lay on the merciless stone slab, his endurance stretched to the limit, his pain unbearable, his body fragile and his breath growing thin. The rebel, the traitor, brought before justice in front of a crowd in a public execution. But the antagonistic crowd grow silent. For they have tortured the man and all but destroyed his body, but have found his spirit impossible to bend. The enthusiastic cheers are replaced by chants of ‘mercy’. Mercy for the prisoner, mercy for his soul. ‘Say the word, whisper it and it will all end’, said the magistrate. Instead, with his dying breath, he cried,

braveheart animated GIF

Now excuse me if I’m the only one who teared up as the axe came down upon William Wallace’s neck. And if you haven’t seen the movie Braveheart, take a moment to rethink your life, and then go watch it.

Okay, okay, just kidding. But you have to admit: that was quite a dramatic start to a travel blog post about Edinburgh, no?

I spent a good four days in Edinburgh (that’s the Scottish capital for those who aren’t familiar with that) and honestly, from the heart, I could have stayed there forever.

Of course, like my previous post about Barcelona, I’ll start by referencing one of the travel guides I used when planning my trip there. This time around, I used a more ‘official guide’: as in Scotland’s National Tourism Organisation’s ‘Visit Scotland’ guide.

Would I trust the information on the website? Well, yes. Because it is, after all, an official kind of guide put together by Scotland’s own tourism organization. But would I recommend others to follow this guide? Not really.

You see, the thing about an official guide is its objectiveness. It usually aims to push the most profitable attractions and usually attractions with beneficial ties to the organization. Now I’m not saying everything listed in the guide give some form of compensation to have themselves advertised, but I must acknowledge that it’s pretty easy to miss out on some of the more discrete and worthwhile attractions if you follow only the kind of guide that I did.

I did find it’s tips and hints on how to get around the city very helpful. However, if you remember what I said in the previous post, I love to explore a new location on foot. So, I hardly used the information the guide provided.

Regardless, here’s the link to the website for those interested: http://www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/edinburgh-lothians/travel/

Now, ask anyone who has been to the UK and chances are Edinburgh would make the list of the top few most beautiful cities there. And for good reason. The city is a great blend of modern culture and tradition. The architecture looks like it came right out of a Charles Dickens novel and there is a warmth among the people there. One good way to put it is this: any amateur photographer could take a picture of Edinburgh and look like a professional. Don’t believe me?

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And much like what I said about Barcelona, definitely

YOU SHOULD:

 Take a walk around the city. Edinburgh isn’t as densely populated or as culturally diverse as Barcelona and of course, there are noticeable differences between the two cities’ styles, but believe me, not exploring the city on foot will come back to haunt you. Perhaps it was the Spring air or the clear blue skies, but I was instantly lost in the beauty of the city. And I mean that in a literal sense.

I spent close to three hours wandering the city searching for my accommodation (I seem to be getting lost quite often, but hey, that’s life). Not to say I was in any rush to find it. In fact, take a stroll around the region known as the Old Town, and like I said, you’ll feel like you’re in a Charles Dickens’ novel. Minus the cars and automated vehicles. 10447650_10152302360413725_3225994011769839585_n

Now, remember how I said official travel guides only focus on mainstream and profitable attractions sometimes? Luckily enough, Edinburgh’s main attraction (in my opinion at least) is Edinburgh Castle, which, if you, like me, are an avid fan of travel, would no doubt have heard about. It’s a beautiful castle with a rich history of the city located on Regent Street (I’m pretty sure I’m not wrong, but best ask a local for directions if you find yourself too far off).

I won’t blog about the entry price, not just because I don’t remember it precisely, but also because there might have been changes which I do not know about. However, like many attractions in Europe, students get special discounts with proof of an ID.

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I could fill this entire post with photos of the castle and other scenic shots of the city but of course, that would be too easy! So let’s talk a little bit about food and drink. When in Edinburgh,

YOU SHOULD:

Try haggis (pronounced hagese). What’s haggis, you ask? Well, it’s basically a kind of pudding made from sheep’s organs (heart, lungs and liver), wrapped either in an artificial casing or (in the traditional way) in the animal’s stomach and then cooked to savoury perfection. Traditionally haggis is boiled but nowadays you can find fried haggis as well.

Now, do I like lamb? Yes, I do. Do I like what’s INSIDE a lamb? Not a chance in hell. In fact, I never would have even thought of trying it had it not been for a friend of mine who kept asking me to try it. She wasn’t with me in Edinburgh but boy was she happy to share her experience and recommendations.

Alas, I succumbed to my friend’s request and tried haggis. And I realised: what a shame it would have been had I not listened to her. Despite its initial lack of appeal, haggis is actually ridiculously good. And it’s not the ‘ignore-what-you’re-eating-and-it’ll-be-good’ kind of delicious, it was genuinely tasty! I liked it so much that I ordered a second serving! Believe me, from personal experience, definitely give it a try. Here, in case words alone aren’t enough, let me entice you by showing you a picture!10438314_10152302354073725_4099625014848258962_n

Conveniently outside of Edinburgh Castle, there’s this building called the Scotch Whiskey Experience. No prizes for guessing what you do inside but I’ll lay down the obvious anyway! You get to sample some of the best scotch Edinburgh has to offer. Of course, you get to go on a theme-park inspired ride through a virtual tour of the whiskey brewing process and a mini-lecture about different whiskeys as well. It is a wonderful experience and if you like your whiskey, this is one not to miss.

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ONE THING THAT I PERSONALLY RECOMMEND DOING IS:

Also conveniently located outside Edinburgh Castle is a little-known attraction known as Camera Obscura. It is a fun house of illusions and, dare I say it, magic. It’s a fun place for family, friends and or couples. You can also visit it alone, like I did, but be prepared to take a few awkward selfies, haha! There’s also a special staircase near the exit of the building which resembles the keys of a piano. I spotted quite a few excited tourists, young and old, who climbed up and down the stairs at random, bent on producing a melody. I might have done the same…maybe?

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Also, if you feel like a casual hike ( and I DO mean casual), get in a cab (or as I suggest, walk) to Arthur’s Seat and hike to the peak. I won’t reveal much about the hike or the hill itself, but I can promise you that the view from the peak is oh, so worth the journey. The panoramic view from the top is breathtaking and one should really experience it personally. Photos will do the gratification no justice. So here’s a shot from the foot of the hill! Just because I’m a nice person.

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IN TERMS OF ACCOMMODATION:

Edinburgh has many traveler-friendly lodges and hotels. Many of the places are family-owned bed and breakfast places with relatively affordable prices. I stayed at this place called The Thistle House. It’s a little off track and a little ways off the city center but it’s a good place to stay with a few shops nearby for food and drink. It looks very much like any other house in the UK, save for a tiny sign actually says ‘Thistle House’.

picture taken off Google. Credits to Booking.com.
picture taken off Google. Credits to Booking.com.

All in all, give Edinburgh a chance to charm you, and soon you will find yourself enchanted by its beauty. Ps, here is a selfie with William Wallace. Well, close enough.

Did I mention I liked the movie Braveheart?
Did I mention I liked the movie Braveheart?

Darren

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