Edinburgh – an unexpected gem

We visited Edinburgh specifically to go to the military tattoo. We had planned to be in the UK anyway and when we realised that the tattoo was on at the same time we juggled our timing and trip outline to make it all work. We planned to follow the tattoo with a couple of days in the Scottish highlands but we had figured Edinburgh for “just another city”. How wrong we were!

Edinburgh is an absolute delight. It is a smallish city (less than 500,000) but it has history going back thousands of years. Old buildings are built on top of really old buildings creating a city that is a warren of interconnecting passages and skinny alleys if you are brave enough to venture behind the facades.

As is often our way we started our visit with a ride on the Hop On Hop Off bus. And what a treat! The independent operator offers a tour with a live commentary.

A knowledgeable and funny guide regales passengers with stories of Edinburgh as you drive around the city.

Not surprisingly we weren’t the only ones who stayed in our seats for the full circuit rather than “hopping off” along the way.

The next day we started by catching a taxi to High Street Mall. Just for a quick look – after all they are only shops right? Wrong! When you see the lettering on the glass window saying “established 1437” you know you’ve hit the old town. A stroll up the mall ducking in and out of shops collecting Scottish souvenirs and regalia from your own clan. Pretty much every Anglo Saxon can trace their family to a Scottish clan connection and in Edinburgh the stores have the computers to help you discover your connections.

We left High Street and joined another HOHO route (World Heritage circuit) for 80 minutes of sightseeing and commentary (using same ticket as yesterday), before switching to yet another HOHO (appropriately named Majestic Tour) for a 24 minute ride out to Ocean Terminal to see the royal yacht Britannia. Now that is something to see. The yacht was decommissioned in 1997 after 44 years of service and is now set up as a top ranking tourist attraction.

That night the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was everything we hoped for. Television completely fails to capture what it is like to be there.

The next morning, without having sampled a single whisky we were off on a 2-day adventure in the Scottish Highlands.

 

Enjoy the photos and stay tuned for more articles on Edinburgh.