Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh: Train from London & Princes Street Gardens

Today we traveled to Edinburgh! This involved a four-hour train ride from London to Edinburgh, which wasn’t bad at all, because we purchased things from the snack trolley going through (mainly to further emulate Harry Potter’s first trip to Hogwarts even more–we left from Kings Cross station and everything!) and looked at the beautiful scenery out the window. The English countryside is mainly very, very green rolling hills spotted with sheep, horses and dairy cows. There are also some really beautiful old stone or brick buildings, stone bridges over brooks, and fields of some sort of crop with yellow flowers. As we progressed further into Scotland, we were also privileged to views of the ocean and the Firth of Forth and patches of evergreen forest.

When we arrived in Edinburgh, the first thing we realized that it was very cold and windy and we all put on our jackets. We got bus tickets and took one of the double-decker buses to our hotel and moved all our luggage upstairs to our rooms. One thing I noticed about Edinburgh along the way is that, at least in the section we saw, most of the buildings are not as tall as those in London (which were nearly all at least five stories) and made of larger bricks and stones. There also seemed to be fewer new buildings than in London–we couldn’t see any skyscrapers. I immediately really liked the city, especially since some of the first things we saw were stunning examples of architecture, the Sir Walter Scott Memorial and the Edinburgh Castle.

Scott Monument, Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Castle sits atop a dormant volcano and is very impressive. I can’t even imagine anyone trying to invade it with the way it’s situated. We went to the church across from it first when we visited Princes Street after stopping at our hotel and took many pictures of the castle and some of the impressive tombstones in the church cemetery. I can’t wait to visit it and explore it tomorrow!

After our short photography session with the castle and the church, we headed over to the Wetherspoon, which was a very classy pub. We were told it used to be a library, and it was very spacious and elegantly decorated. We had a delicious meal of paninis, chips (fries if you’re American), and Irn Bru, which is a type of soda that’s been made in Scotland for over 100 years with a delicious, but completely indescribable, taste.

We then continued to explore Princes Street, which  mainly involved shopping. We stopped in a Primark, which had some great deals on clothing, but ended up not buying anything. Then we stopped by several souvenir shops and checked out all of the tartan and woolen products, the kilts, the Scottie dog kitsch, the bagpipes and Celtic jewelry. I was on a quest to find a Heathergem necklace, jewelry I’d read about before the trip and planned on buying while here. The first place I found them was outrageously priced, but two shops later I found them at more reasonable prices, and picked out my favorite. See how Heathergems are made here!

After shopping we headed back to our hotel, and had to wait for the bus for about half an hour. So far the Scottish weather has been very random–in the few hours we were outside here it’s been sunny, cloudy, sprinkling, down-pouring, sunny while raining, cloudy while raining…it seems to change every ten minutes, though no matter what’s happening it’s windy and a bit chilly. Several of these weather patterns occurred in just the 26 minutes we were waiting for the bus to take us back to the hotel! We are now resting on our tartan comforters after showering and very excited to explore the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile tomorrow, though we plan to dress warmly!

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