For our first full day in Scotland, we hit the ground running! After a delicious breakfast at our hotel, we set out for Calton Hill, which is listed in a million books and websites as being The place for great photo ops.
The hill itself is a World Heritage site and is home to several monuments as well as Scottish Parliament buildings on the bottom part of the hill.
It poured on our walk to the hill and then was sprinkling off and on while there, but that didn't dampen* our spirits one bit. In fact, it rained at least once every single day we were there. We were ready for that, though, so it didn't bother us.
After the hill, we walked back to the Royal Mile, which is actual a few streets that aren't really a mile long and run from the Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. Everything in this area is quite exquisite (even the touristy shops!).
In this area is St. Giles Cathedral, a beautiful building right in the middle of the bustling touristy/historic** area. I love visiting churches and cathedrals because they are always so gorgeous and I like to see the different interpretations of beliefs. It's especially cool in Scotland because a lot of the buildings are incredibly old. St. Giles Cathedral was built in the 12th century. Whoa.
After lunch, (I think. I want to remember things exactly, for my own memories, but a few things are a little jumbled timeline wise) we got lunch and then went for a tour of Mary King's Close, something that was on my To Do List early on in our trip planning.
Closes in Scotland are another word for alleys and this tour takes you into the underground ones in the Old Town under the more recently built Royal Exchange. It's fascinating to see how people lived around the 17th century in tenement buildings that went up to seven stories high. It's these buildings that created the closes and on the tour, you get to see how awful the living conditions were and the tour guide tells a lot of stories about how the Plague affected life at the time***. This tour was one of my favorite things from the whole trip so, if you find yourself in Edinburgh, be sure to check this place out.
(Side note: There is a VERY accessible and lovely toilet**** right off the street! Perfect for when in the area. And don't laugh, bathroom knowledge is high on my list of travel requirements.)
Hebrides Bar was another spot on our To Do List and we hit them up next.
This is a great little pub with a good tap list and seems to be a destination for locals and tourists. They don't serve food, which is weird to us Virginia natives, but the bartenders were super friendly and we had a good time relaxing and drinking a few pints. I would definitely go back!
The sun sets early in Scotland in October so my memory gets a little hazy at this point on what we did next, but I'm pretty sure we went home for a nap. (I guess that explains the haze.) Dinnertime in Scotland proved to be a little challenging as pubs don't serve food in the evening and usually we didn't really want to go to a big restaurant. But, ya gotta eat, right? This night we ended up at a Thai restaurant near our hotel and had a really good dinner, but it took for-ev-er. We were so tired once we were done so we headed back to our hotel for some lobby time at the hotel!
** That's the thing about Scotland- even if it's touristy, it's still historic and awesome.
*** Can I get a what what for Sores and Boils Alley??
****I could never get used to calling the restroom "the toilet". So crass;)