Tag Archives: edinburgh

Scotland #3: The View from Scott Monument

Scotland #1: Welcome to Edinburgh!
Scotland #2: The View from Arthur’s Seat

We took it easy on our last full day in Edinburgh. I was starting to get sick (getting sick on vacation is no fun – in case you’re curious) and I collapsed in my hotel bed at 3 p.m. But before said collapsing, we headed to Scott Monument in New Town to check out the views of the city from the top of the most recognizable monument in Edinburgh.

It’s hard to miss the gothic spire that defines Edinburgh’s skyline. In 1858, Charles Dickens said, “I am sorry to report the Scott Monument a failure. It is like the spire of a Gothic church taken off and stuck in the ground.” Love it of hate it, the man for whom the monument is built – Sir Walter Scott – is beloved in Scotland. His Waverly novels celebrate Scotland’s rebellious history and are credited with reviving Scottish pride.

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There are 287 steps to the highest platform, involving a narrow, slightly breathless climb. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to stop along the way and take pictures.

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The view of the romantic Old Town and Arthur’s Seat from Scott Monument.

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Facing west, you can’t miss Edinburgh Castle.

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We had a great view of Princess Street, the wide boulevard bordering the New Town on the south.

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Scott Monument is located in Princess Street Gardens, a pretty patch of greenery where Scotts relax, stroll and hang out.

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Jenners is the largest and oldest department store in Edinburgh – the Macy’s of Scotland. It’s located directly across the street from Scott Monument.

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And of course, some requisite pictures of the Dynamic Duo!

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After Scott Monument we headed back to Old Town. My scratchy throat and headache were starting to get the best of me.

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We discovered charming Victoria Street, not far from the University of Edinburgh, marked by cute cafes and colorful shops.

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After that, it was back to the hotel for a nice, long nap. I could not have been happier.

 

 

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Scotland #2: The View from Arthur’s Seat

Scotland #1: Welcome to Edinburgh!

On our second day in Edinburgh, we headed east down the Royal Mile to explore the rest of Edinburgh’s famous street and climb Arthur’s Seat for its famous views of the city below.

First up was John Knox’s house, or I should say, what is allegedly John Knox’s house. There is some evidence that his house was actually located in Warriston Close. John Knox was a clergyman who played a major role in the Protestant Reformation in Scotland and is credited with founding the Presbyterian branch of Christianity.

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We stopped for some pretty views of Calton Hill, including the Political Martyrs’ Monument, erected in honor of five reformers who were imprisoned for advocating for parliamentary reforms.

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Next up was Scotland’s new parliament.

For centuries, Scotland had its own parliament located in Parliament House in the Old Town – a building that now houses the Supreme Courts of Scotland. With the Treaty of Union in 1707, Scotland and England were united under the banner of Great Britain, and the Parliament of Scotland ceased to exist. As the rumblings of independence grew in throughout the past couple of decades, Scots clamored for more political control. In 1978, the United Kingdom Parliament passed the Scotland Act of 1978, but the proposed assembly failed to garner the required percentage in a public referendum. Finally, in 1997, the Scottish public approved an elected parliament in Edinburgh.

The modern, new Parliament building was built in 2004 on the eastern end of the Royal Mile – also known as the Holyrood neighborhood in reference to the Holyrood Palace located across the street.

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Today, Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the British monarchy in Scotland and served as the residence for the Sottish monarchy back in the day, including Mary, Queen of Scots. The palace is open to tours aside from the one week Queen Elizabeth spends at the palace at the beginning of every summer.

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We meandered through Holyrood Park where we took way too many pictures and I attempted to be one of those people who takes yoga pictures in awesome locations around the world.

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Finally, we began our hike up the mountain up towards Arthur’s seat. At some point, it became abundantly clear that we had taken the scenic route – and by that I mean we went completely out of our way. But the views were beautiful so no complaints here.

Here we are looking down on Parliament, with views of Calton Hill and Nelson Monument.

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Below is a view of Calton Hill with the Nelson Monument and the National Monument of Scotland poking out. The Royal High School is located just beneath Calton Hill. Founded in 1128, the Royal High School is one of the oldest schools in the world.

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As we climbed higher and turned westward, we could make out Edinburgh’s Old Town, Scott Monument, and Edinburgh Castle.

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The higher we climbed, the more beautiful the scenery got. And the more pictures I took.

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Lisa standing in a field of flowers

Finally, we got to the top of Arthur’s Seat. I was mildly obsessed with this bird.

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The Dynamic Duo!

We headed down – on the path we should have taken up – reveling in the views of the Firth of Forth.

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We also had some pretty views of Holyrood Palace from above.

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At the bottom of the trail, we came upon the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. Little is known about the chapel, though it is thought to be associated with the Holyrood Abbey. Wikipedia dates the chapel to the 15th century, but I also saw reference to the 1300s. The chapel fell into disrepair after the Reformation in 1560.

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The view of Arthur’s Seat from the bottom

Our version of the hike to Arthur’s Seat was certainly longer and probably more difficult than the correct path up, but we enjoyed the exercise and the fresh air – not to mention the views. We took the Radical Road past Salisbury Crags and then linked up with the path to Arthur’s Seat. Below is a map of Holyrood Park trails – something we probably should have googled before we started.

Holyrood Park Map

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Scotland #1: Welcome to Edinburgh!

We packed for Scotland expecting this:

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But once we landed, it seemed like we completely lucked out (minus a minor plane mishap). We were welcomed by sunny blue skies and started stripping layers faster than well, fill in the blank. After dumping our stuff at our hotel, we immediately set out to explore Edinburgh’s charming Old Town, heading westward down the Royal Mile – the famous street that runs horizontally through Edinburgh.

I fell in love with the historic Old Town, preferring it to the New Town’s wide boulevards and grid layout. Although the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe Festival didn’t start until the end of the week, the streets were already teeming with tourists and street performers warming up their acts.

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Edinburgh’s charming Old Town – the center of Edinburgh life until the latter half of the eighteenth century when construction on the New Town began.

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A bird hanging out with St. Giles’ Cathedral in the background.

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The famous Scottish economist and a personal favorite of mine. LOOK AT THAT BLUE SKY!!!!

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Bagpipers – of course!

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Street performers getting ready for Edinburgh’s festivals.

The west end of the Royal Mile collides with Edinburgh’s most famous and imposing site – Edinburgh Castle. The castle is not just a pretty tourist attraction. It was the royal residence for Scotland’s kings and queens and played a crucial role in the many battles between Scotland and England. Built on volcanic rock, the castle provided an obvious strategic advantage. It is not surprising that it is one of the most besieged places in the world. Warning: With the pound’s soaring value, admission is a pricey 30 U.S. dollars.

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Drumroll please – entrance to Edinburgh Castle.

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Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle provides stunning views of the city – when the weather cooperates – and its many landmarks. Touring Edinburgh Castle on our first day was a great way to orient ourselves and get a sense of the city. Here is a helpful map:

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You can make out a lot of Edinburgh’s key landmarks in this photo. The funky, gothic spire on the left is Scott Monument, honoring the writer Sir Walter Scott. According to Wikipedia, it is the largest monument to a writer in the world. The ugly railway area is Waverly Station – named after Scott’s most famous novel. The imposing building with the clock tower is the ritzy Balmoral Hotel. The museum building in the left-hand corner is the Scottish National Gallery. And in the distance you can make out Nelson Monument high up on Calton Hill.

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Here we are looking down on Princes Street Gardens and Edinburgh’s New Town. Even from this height, you can notice how starkly different the New Town looks from its older counterpart.

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The New Town’s grid structure and wide boulevards

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A view of the New Town with Scott Monument and the ferris wheel dominating the skyline.

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Looking north on the New Town and westward toward outer Edinburgh.

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Looking out towards Old Town.

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It was a struggle to get pictures of the castle without random people in them. Here is a valiant attempt.

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The Scottish National War Memorial

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In the 17th century, Edinburgh Castle was used primarily as military barracks. The accommodations were not exactly five star.

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One of the rooms inside the Royal Palace

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Stained glass windows in the Royal Palace.

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Hanging out on a cannon, because, well, why not?

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I managed to convince Lisa to climb up here with me. I can be very persuasive.

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Lisa taking a nap in the military jail. At this point we had not slept in over 24 hours.

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Me taking a silly picture in the bread oven at the military barracks.

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