One of the nice things about staying in Glasgow is the ease of connectivity to other Scottish cities. The first Scottish city on my list was Edinburgh – Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh is just over an hour away from Glasgow and can be done in day or weekend trips. For our trip, we decided to stay in Edinburgh Saturday night and make a weekend of it.
I spent the morning of my first day exploring the Royal Mile and Old Town. First stop was Edinburgh Castle. The castle we see today was built in the 12th century, although there has been some sort of building in its location since the Iron Age. Wandering around the castle gives amazing views of the Old Town of Edinburgh as well as a glimpse into the past. After a bit of time here I began to wander the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a series of streets that create the main street of Edinburgh that connects the Castle to the Palace. While walking down the first section of the road I was also treated to the lovely sounds of bagpipes, as a piper had set up in front of the Castle entrance.
Just down the road from the Castle is St. Giles Cathedral, the principal location for the Church of Scotland. It has been a religious focal point in Edinburgh for over 900 years. I visited on a Saturday morning, so it was a fairly empty place. The church is particularly well known for its “Thistle Chapel” and its intricate stained glass artworks. After admiring the art I continued on to my final stop on the Royal Mile – Holyrood Palace.
Holyrood Palace is at the end of the Royal Mile and at the base of Arthur’s Seat. The Palace is open to walk around and explore, complete with an audioguide, although photos aren’t allowed. My personal favourites were the Mary Queen of Scots rooms as they not only tied in her history but also it’s modern functions as Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the monarchy in Scotland and is still in usage today. The grounds and ruins are also open to explore although it was a little too chilly to spend a lot of time out there.
After finishing the Royal Mile I still had two hours before my friends were meeting me at our hotel for the night. I decided to check in and wait for the verdict on our dinner plans. After a quick discussion in our group chat the four of us elected to grab take out and just chill and eat in our room so we would be able to nap and relax. It just so happened that there was a Harry Potter marathon on so I was able to tune into most of Order of the Pheonix before running out to pick up pizza and caesar salad for dinner. We all curled up with our slices and the now playing Half Blood Prince and were napping within minutes.
We woke up the next morning and began our day as many of our travelling mornings have begun: hitting up the nearest Starbucks for a caffeine intake. While there we discussed what everyone wanted to do. We came to the conclusion that we as a group would walk up Arthur’s seat and then split up so everyone could do what they wanted.
Arthur’s seat is the main point in the hills of Holyrood and is an extinct volcano. It’s name comes from Arthurian legend and is one of many Scottish landmarks to claim ties to the story. When looking at a map before there seemed to be an easy way up and a hard way and we decided to do the easy way. However, we started climbing and only saw one way. Which I’m pretty sure was the more difficult of the two. All four of us were wheezing and coughing (as most of us were getting over colds) and definitely not in peak hiking condition. But the view at the top made it all worth it. From the top of the mountain you can see all of Edinburgh and many of the other nearby cities in the distance.
Completely exhausted after the hike, I elected to walk through the New Town for a bit as I made my way to the bus station. Me and two of my friends hopped on the bus with our healthy McDonald’s dinner (sorry mom) and headed back to Glasgow, already planning when we wanted to go back and explore more.