Edinburgh, May 2015

The next stop on our UK/Ireland vacation back in May was Edinburgh, Scotland. Can I just say WOW?! This city blew us away and we can’t wait to get back.

We took the train from York to Edinburgh late in the evening and emerged from the train station around 9:30 pm to a light drizzle. We were disoriented for a second, but we managed to find our hotel (Holiday Inn) and fall into bed. We awoke the next morning to a free continental breakfast–a surprisingly enjoyable perk not to overlook!–and set off for the day’s adventures.

Thankfully we both had raincoats on, since it rained on and off and on and off alllll day. No worries, we found something indoors to do. Our first stop was Edinburgh Castle, the main landmark in the city. We walked from our hotel down the Royal Mile to get there and came to this:

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Sort of. We went in the entrance, below, and took the above picture the next day.

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In the castle are a variety of different museums and monuments. One museum was filled to the brim with Scottish history and artwork! The painting below was easily 8 feet long and 4 feet tall.

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The castle was built on a cliff, and three sides of the castle are pretty inaccessible and only one side boasted an entrance. This was for defense purposes…and it seems pretty effective. I loved the natural rocks and grass peeking through inside the castle grounds.

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In the castle was a jail, and they had several artifacts with old graffiti. We enjoyed the story of the jailed American who scratched out this patriotic flag in the late 1700s.

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Ken was excited to find the name of the first king of Scotland.

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Below is a dog cemetery. :)

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After eating our lunch at the castle, we set out again and were blown away by the beauty of Edinburgh.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering Edinburgh.

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Inevitably, one of my favorite parts of vacations is usually stumbling upon something we didn’t expect. We accidentally found Calton Hill, a public park with several monuments. It had great views of the surrounding hills.

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The monuments were incredible too.

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The rain kept coming and going. It would be sunny for a few minutes and then raining, sometimes hard, just a few minutes later. It definitely made for some dramatic photos!

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That evening, we went to the Elephant House restaurant for dinner, which is where J. K. Rowling wrote the first few Harry Potter books. The food wasn’t anything to write home about, but the restaurant overlooked the castle and we could definitely feel the Hogwarts vibe.

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The next morning, we set out and went the opposite direction on the Royal Mile from the castle, heading to the Queen’s Scotland residence, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Unfortunately, some very important person was staying there (not the queen) at the moment so it was closed to the public, but we were happy to snap a few photos and keep moving.

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We wanted to get a little hiking in, so we headed towards Arthur’s Seat, the hill overlooking the city. Brace yourself for a photo overload. The views were incredible and I couldn’t help snapping photos at every turn.

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In the pic below you can see the castle in the middle, where we visited the day before.

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See the hilltop on the left below? We hiked all the way to the top!

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We made it to the top! Cue the obligatory Chaco photo.

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But once we reached the top, we realized the rain clouds were quickly rolling in once again, so we hastily made our way down the back of the hill.

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We quickly explored the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. We were the only ones there, since everyone else (wisely) fled at the threat of rain.

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We managed to keep mostly dry, and both Kenny and I remember this day as our favorite of the vacation. But! There was more to be seen. The next morning we stuffed ourselves at the continental breakfast and headed to the airport to depart for Dublin.

Here’s an updated expense recap (all in USD). We stayed in Edinburgh for three nights.

$478.74 3 nights at Holiday Inn hotel

$35 Admission to Edinburgh Castle

$62.02 Meals, tips, misc.

$107.90 airfare from Edinburgh to Dublin

Total for York: $683.66

Total  so far: $2134.98 (includes airfare)

(Don’t be alarmed at that high cost! We took advantage of two $500 Barclaycard travel refunds that will get the cost down and additional $1k that I’ll explain at the end of this series).

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