As we continued to drive north into Scotland the scenery became more and more beautiful. The countryside was filled with blue skies and green grass. There were fields and fields of yellow flowers and sheep/horses/cows roaming around. Who says it rains in Scotland? It was a little chilly but the sun was shining. We arrived in Edinburgh which was our first stop. We again were staying at a Marriott (we can always count on the Marriott to have hot showers, fluffy pillows and a real bed. The executive lounges are also a bonus because we get complimentary coffee/tea/drinks and snacks). We checked in and then went straight for the bus stop which was conveniently across the street. It was only 1.30 pounds each and a 20 minute ride took us directly into the city center.
WOW…Edinburgh can make your jaw drop when you first drive into the city. It’s massive castle sits as the main view-point overlooking the city. To one side of Princess Street is the old town. The buildings are centuries old and the detail in the architecture will have you stopping every few minutes to take another picture. On the other side of Princess Street is the new town which is where all the name brand stores are located for shopping. We quickly realized the 2 days we had allotted to spend here was not even close to enough time. We could easily stay a week in this area. We decided to focus mainly on old town since we wanted to see and feel the history.
As soon as the bus dropped us off we saw the “hop on hop off” buses were right next to us. We had jumped on these before and it was a great way to get a good summary of the area. As we were inquiring about the tour, a stranger came up to us and handed us 3 free tickets (12 pounds each) because they had already done the tour and the tickets are good for 24 hours. We thankfully took them and got on the last tour of the day. This one had a live tour guide instead of the automated recording. The tour was about an hour and drove us around the old town talking and showing us things we wouldn’t otherwise have known. They pointed out one of the older buildings which dated back to the times when waste was just thrown out the window. The building had its viewing windows which didn’t open but then below each window were what looked like little wooden cupboards. These opened and the waste was thrown out onto the street. They also pointed out a statue of a dog named Greyfriars Bobby. We had heard about this dog from the traveling writer Curtis in York. Legend has it that this dog was so loyal that once his owner passed away and was buried in the cemetery…the dog would sit at his grave everyday for 14 years until he died and was buried next to him. You can visit the dogs grave right behind the bar named after him. We saw other major sites and were then dropped off right where we started.
It was now pretty cold and starting to rain so finding ourselves in the pubs seemed like the right thing to do. We found a couple small but authentic looking pubs and sat at the bar to chat with various locals as we sipped on what they call “real” beer…it’s not quite as chilled nor as bubbly as the beers in the states because it still has active yeast and hops in it and the extreme cold temperatures would ruin it and take away from the taste. After a couple pints we hadn’t walked around in the super cold and windy weather for too long when we found a restaurant. it was a little wine bar and we ordered soup and salad while sitting in the corner window seat. After our late dinner we got back on the bus and went back to our place.