Northern Europe Trip Page... (including photos)
Chris' Previous Journal
August 22, 2010, Edinburgh, Scotland
It's good that the stop in Edinburgh is an overnight so that we are here for a day and a half, as there is so much to see and do. Only one day would leave us feeling that we had just scratched the surface. And, as it is, there are still many things we won't have the opportunity to enjoy based on time constraints. I am thinking a return visit to Edinburgh is on our agenda.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, located along the Firth of Forth, near the North Sea. It is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. In 2009, Edinburgh was voted as the "most desirable city in which to live in the UK".
The largest employers are primarily in the services sector: banking, financial services, education and tourism. The unemployment rate in Edinburgh is low - in 2010, it is 3.6%.
We arrived into the mooring area around 1pm Sunday afternoon, and proceeded to the lounge to obtain our tender ticket to go ashore. The anchorage is about 10 miles from the city centre, so we took advantage of the shuttle service for £5 ($8.20) per person which dropped us off in the center of New Town a block from Princes Street. New Town was created in the 18th century, due to overcrowding in Old Town.
From virtually any point in the downtown area, the massive Edinburgh Castle can be seen. It sits on top of a volcanic hill 445 feet above the city, and with the flags flying, it's an awesome sight. There has been a castle on this site since the 12th century.
In addition to serving as a royal residence, the castle was a military base beginning in the 17th century. Today, even though the castle is a tourist attraction, there is still a military presence, primarily ceremonial and administrative. The castle, a scheduled National Monument, is now operated by Historic Scotland, and is the most popular paid attraction in the country with 1.2 million visitors in 2009.
From Princes Street, we walked through the Princes Street Gardens, and because today was beautiful weather, it was packed with people. The Garden is a favorite spot to gather with friends and family, with plenty of green space, beautiful trees and flowers, and easy-to-stroll pathways.
While heading toward High Street and the Royal Mile, I spotted an entry that said "access to High Street". We were quite pleased to think we were saving time and distance - and then we saw the stairs. For a moment, it appeared we might be climbing all the way to heaven! However, we made it up to the Royal Mile in no time and decided to head down first toward Holyroodhouse, the official residence of the Queen when visiting Scotland.
The Royal Mile (actually 3/4 of a mile) was in the heart of Old Town during the medieval days. It runs from the Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse. In addition to the government buildings along the way, there are many shops and restaurants. There's so much to see, it almost causes sensory overload.
The Royal Mile was filled with people - August is the month for festivals in Edinburgh - the International Festival, the Edinburgh Fringe, Book Festival to name just a few.
When we reached the Holyroodhouse, we noted what to see and do tomorrow, and headed back up the Royal Mile toward the Edinburgh Castle.
What a fabulous surprise - John spotted a Mexican restaurant, and since it was time for dinner, we went right in. They fixed great frozen margaritas and the food was very delicious - even the jalapeno peppers!
After a leisurely dinner, we started walking back toward Princes Street to take the shuttle bus back to the dock. Then, we spotted Waverley train station and thought we'd check it out, since we had seen a sign for the train station when leaving the port.
John told the ticket agent we wanted to go to the station by the cruise ship port. She responded "Dalmeny". John answered "two". She repeated, "Dalmeny". John again responded "two". She started laughing and said, "Dalmeny is the station". With her Scottish accent, John thought she was asking, "how many?" We've had several chuckles over the error in communications.
The train ride was efficient - we got off at the third stop, much faster than the bus ride as we didn't have to worry about getting caught in traffic, and the price was right - only £3.60 each ($5.90 US). When we reached the station, we took a very narrow, secluded path about 1/2 mile to stairs -- thankfully this time we were going down.
We didn't have to wait long for the tender to take us back to the ship. We are looking forward to tomorrow and another great day in Edinburgh.
More info about Scotland
Northern Europe Trip Page... (including photos)
Note that there are two trip maps, as this journey include two (back-to-back) 12 day cruises. The map of Norway is found below the UK map