Edinburgh Part Two: The Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle

So after our surprisingly interesting and enjoyable tour around Holyrood Palace, we then walked along the Royal Mile, the road/streets connecting Holyrood and Edinburgh Castle. Is it exactly a mile long? No idea. The architecture of the buildings is great though, and on our journey we stopped for lunch at The World’s End pub, which thankfully had improved since my dad’s visit there forty years ago when he had a choice of two drink options and no food menu in a dark and gloomy pub. Despite initial signs looking bad because of kitchen issues, It was actually one of the best meal experiences Vanna and I have had together. The food was excellent (I had a delicious haggis pie with whiskey sauce; Vanna had steak and ale pie which was equally tasty), we tried a fantastic local cider (plus Crabbies Ginger Ale which I really wish was imported here) and enjoyed wonderful service from the staff in a beautifully decorated traditional pub. We were so happy we bought a fridge magnet and tipped the barman and the server. If you are in Edinburgh, I recommend going there.

It was getting late by the time we finished eating, so we hightailed it to Edinburgh Castle, which was…something of a disappointment, in all honesty. The main reason for this was the tourists. So, so, so many tourists. And unlike at Holyrood Palace, where people would check out what the audio tape was referring to and then politely step back, the castle visitors remained in the way all the time. They were ignorant, obnoxious, loud…I know I shouldn’t be surprised by tourist behavior but it was such an unexpected shift compared to the palace. Edinburgh Castle is sadly too commercial; it’s hard to get into the spirit of the place when they’ve converted the old buildings to whiskey shops and cafes. Though I don’t regret going because it’s rare to see a castle still intact, I think I would prefer to visit more ruinous castles, such as Barnard Castle. Less people, more value for money.

Having said that, it wasn’t all bad. Vanna and I really liked the jail/prison building, plus the exhibit about POWS during the War of Independence. Highlights included jail doors preserved with drawings carved in the old wood, plus intricate and incredible little craft items the men had created from straw and various other cheap materials (brought to them by the locals!).There was also a tour through an imagining of their horrible living environment, which was as bad as you could probably imagine. Although seeing the preserved graffiti was pretty cool, my favourite moment was the rations display, and how the Americans, because they were considered ‘rebels’, got only a 1lb of bread compared to everyone else. That was pretty good. But everything else? Bar from the excellent views (see the slideshow), it wasn’t worth the trip. Stick to castle ruins; they offer a lot more in my opinion.

Once the castle closed, we had about an hour before our train turned up, so we decided to walk around the fairground (also spotted in the slideshow) by the station. I bought some candy ropes to munch on while Vanna checked out a variety of homemade leather journals from another seller (some of them were really impressive, I’ll have to show you the one Vanna got sometime). We then headed into the station, got onto our train and enjoyed the compliments of first class (I ate the fanciest sausage roll I’ve ever had while Vanna had a gourmet ham sandwich…we were living the high life) in a mostly deserted carriage.

And that was our trip to Edinburgh. As it often go for us, the thing we were most looking forward to ended up being the least enjoyable part. But other than that, we did have a wonderful time in the Scottish castle. I’d like to go again sometime in the future for sure. Maybe next time we can visit some other landmarks…or just go to the zoo. Who knows?

Enjoy the slideshow!

Alex

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