Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day 4 - Edinburgh

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Tuesday, May 31st

The first thing I learned about Edinburgh is that one and a half days here is not enough time to explore this fantastic city. But that's the nature of our trip, we're headed all over the place, and so we have to move on. Yesterday was a day completely full of walking around the city.

We started with breakfast at our B&B, where our host gave us great tips and shared stories about his beautiful city. Here's Jake in the garden out front of the guest house:

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Our B&B was half an hour's walk from Edinburgh Castle, which was our first destination. On the way, I saw some great sites. I love the name of this restaurant! (Bite me!)

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Our route took us up the back of the castle, so we had a good sized hill to walk up. Near the top, you could look down over the neighborhoods:

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We waited in a long but surprisingly quick line to get tickets into Edinburgh Castle, which sits atop a giant hill and overlooks the city.

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The views were amazing from the back side of the castle:

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And from the front, they were breathtaking:

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The castle was absolutely worth the price of admission - we spent a couple of hours walking around and seeing things like this dog cemetery for soldiers:

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More jaw-dropping views:

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This giant bombard called Mon's Meg, that was built in 1449 and sent as a gift to James II, King of Scots:

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St. Margaret's chapel, which is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. It was built in the 12th century:

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The guns along the castle walls:

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Amazing wood carvings and suits of armor in the great hall:

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Exterior of the castle from the courtyard below:

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We were quite interested in reading about the legend that two infants and a mute woman were left on one of the islands in the 1490s in an experiment to discover the original language of humankind:

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Another view from the castle:

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Inside the castle prisons, where prisoners of war were kept:

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I had to take a photo of the gift shop door because the doorstop has "Hodor" written on it. If you've not seen Game of Thrones yet this season, that won't make much sense to you. Dusty thought I was a spazz for taking this picture:

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Love this picture of Jake by a telephone booth near the Castle exit:

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After we left the castle, we wandered around Old Town and The Royal Mile.
*photos of buildings, churches, etc. on the Royal mile:
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Deacon Brodie's Tavern was named after a famous criminal who was a respectable member of society by day, and a thief by night. Part of his job as a cabinet maker was to fix key mechanisms and he'd copy the keys with wax impressions and enter the homes of his wealthy customers and steal from them. This concept of "respectable by day and evil by night" inspired Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

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Here's another restaurant named after a famous story. This one is sad. Greyfriar's Bobby was a skye terrier who became known around Edinburgh in the 1800s for guarding the grave of his owner for 14 years until he died himself:

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We had a decent lunch at a place called Mums.  Sausages and mash, and fish and chips. That type of thing.

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We were wandering around talking and I mentioned to Jake that the cafe where JK Rowling supposedly spent a great deal of time writing Harry Potter was somewhere in Edinburgh, but I didn't know where. I kid you not, as soon as I had said that, we walked right by it. We decided it was magic!
*Pic of Jake and me outside of The Elephant House:
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We went inside St. Giles Cathedral where they had a brilliant way of earning money. You paid £2 for a photographer's pass and could take all the pictures you wanted. Totally worth it to me.

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One of the best parts of Edinburgh are these alleyways (or closes) that take you into these narrow, windy streets where flats and shops are hidden away in the hills:

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This one is where the poet Robert Burns (a Scottish poet from the 1700s) lived during his first visit to Edinburgh.

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This cool purple tree was inside of a market where you could buy crafts:

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More painted doors. The buildings are all made of stone, so these brightly painted doors differentiate the shops from one another:

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We spent the next two hours on a tour of the "Dark Side" of Edinburgh where we learned great stories of murders, witch trials, cannibalism, disembowelment, and other lovely tales.

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The hill you see in the background is Arthur's Seat, which is craggy on one side and sloped along the other.

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The stories our tour guide told us were great. But I loved the little oddities he showed us. Like this random plaque in the city that commemorates 1000 years of Christianity in the Ukraine. Random, right?

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We loved the tour - it was a lot of walking and a couple of really steep hills, so we were all tuckered out at the end so we walked around in search of a place for dinner and ended up at a burger shop. The sign outside read: "All well behaved children welcome. Naughty kids will be turned into burgers." Ha!

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What a day! I'm sad to say goodbye to Edinburgh - I could've spent much more time exploring this fantastic city. As you can tell by the photos, we've been blessed with unusual weather for this area. It's been upper 60s and sunny. Just gorgeous. I even got a bit of a sunburn, which is not what I expected on this vacation!

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