Saturday, 30 August 2014

Scotland 2014: Day 2

View from Volcano

Scotland 2014: Day 2, 30th August 2014
Day in Edinburgh

First thing I did this morning was take pictures of the room as promised. It's got everything you need, large bed (which is actually 2 singles pushed together but hey), tea and coffee, kettle, a few hangers, a safe and of course an en-suite. Next door the owner has another guest house which has sky TV, breakfast and other facilities but that costs pretty much double what a night here costs. We aren't too fussed about breakfast and as long as we have somewhere to lay our heads we are pretty much sorted. We also brought breakfast bars with us, so it means we can eat something quick and get as much crammed into our day as possible!

Leaving the guest house the dark clouds filled us with worry. As far as we knew it wasn't meant to be raining today. However, as we continued walking towards the city centre the clouds dispersed and the whole day has been lovely. Our walk to the city centre involved a minor detour... via the volcano where the top is known as Arthur's Seat. Last night I was wondering where the pretty side of Edinburgh was and today we have found it.

It took about an hour but we managed to get to the very top - greeted by heavy winds. The views from up here are outstanding. All around you can see either as far as the sea, the old town, the rest of the volcano or some of the small lochs below. Many locals were jogging around the area or walking their dogs (some of the dogs looked absolutely shattered!). If you come to Edinburgh you have to head up the volcano. The park is known as Holyrood Park, and the views are absolutely stunning. I have obviously attached photos but they can never do it justice.

From the top of the volcano Emma spotted a structure that she wanted to go and see. We headed back down and found out that it was the abbey next to the Queen's palace. To go inside required purchasing tickets and as we wanted to use some of our small budget to check out the castle we gave it a miss. Instead we headed up Calton Hill, home of the observation tower and several landscape artefacts. One of which was the Portuguese cannon, the last one of six after the rest were melted for weaponry in the second world war.

From here we headed across the city to the castle. The queues were quite long, I think we had to queue for about 45 minutes before we could buy tickets. At time of writing an adult ticket costs £16.

We were in the castle for about 2 hours. We checked out all the areas that were open including Davids Tower where the crown jewels were hidden during the second world war, the jewels themselves, the luxury apartments, prisons and the chapel. Worth a visit as the history is really interesting. The views from the castle are also fantastic and as you can see from my badly taken picture we tried to do a selfie to demonstrate this...

We almost left before checking out the Dragoon and War Museums, but went back to do these before leaving the castle around 2 pm. Keeping costs down, we walked to a Tesco Metro for a meal deal before finding our way to a black structure that Emma had spotted from the volcano known as Scots Monument. From here we spent a bunch of time wandering around checking out antique shops, jewellery stores and whatever unique shops were hidden down some of the smaller streets.

The night before we found that Edinburgh's main museum was closed for refurbishments. But we stumbled across a money museum on the mound (a man-made hill purchased by the Bank of Scotland for around £117,000 in today's money - apparently I do remember some of the things I read!). It was free entry so we went and had a look. It displayed the history of Scotland's banking as well as the first coins ever to be minted in Scotland. There was also a case of a million pounds in Scottish £20 notes, but these had been cancelled in case of theft. It also showed the types of chests banks used to secure property from bank notes to assets.

After more walking we finally went for dinner at Garfunkel's. We had a lovely spot by the window so we could check out what was going on along the high street. We'd never been to a Garfunkel's before but food was OK, what you would expect from a mid-range steak restaurant.

Tomorrow we head to Dundee - a nice short 60 or so mile journey. However, my bottom is still ever so painful from the journey up to Edinburgh yesterday. I have a feeling this is going to be slightly uncomfortable...

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