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    Scotiana’s Top 10 in Edinburgh – Part 2

    (Continued from: Scotiana’s Top 10 in Edinburgh – Part 1 )

    6 – Grassmarket

    Grassmarket - Edinburgh

    Grassmarket - Edinburgh

    We discovered Grassmarket on a Fair Day during the Fringe Festival. A very coloured and cheerful atmosphere indeed ! Most picturesque too with its cobbled streets and crow-stepped gable houses, its old fountain and the castle looming over the place. We lingered a couple of hours along the stalls where food, old clothes, arts and crafts objects were lavishly displayed. It was a hot day but there was no vacant table inside or outside the famous pubs to be served a refreshment,so we cling to our cameras to capture the atmosphere of the mythical pubs : the Black Bull, the White Hart Inn, which is Edinburgh’s oldest pub, the Beehive, the Last Drop…so, not a drop for us but certainly the last one for all those condemned to death who were brought here to be hanged in the olden times. Another place to discover at night or at least when the place is empty…

    7 – Holyrood Palace

    Holyrood Palace - Edinburgh

    Holyrood Palace - Edinburgh

    We arrived at Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland, just before closing time so that we had to rush along the many sumptuous rooms of the palace to visit them. Not enough time to let us impressed by the gloomy history which is linked to the place and especially that of Marie Stuart and her fateful secretary Riccio who was assassinated here, in front of her eyes, and in a most horrible and cowardly way. Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here during the very short and glorious time of his victory, in 1745, and a description of the banquet he gave to his supporters is described in Waverley, Walter Scott’s famous novel. We wandered some time in the romantic scenery of the ruined Abbey before walking out in Holyrood Park. Quite astonishing to find such a piece of natural wilderness in the heart of a town. We would have liked to have much more time to make an idea of what the Rough Guide describes as an “amazing variety of landscapes… mountains, crags, moorland, marshes, glens, lochs and fields… packed into an area no more than five miles in diameter and representing something of a microscosm of Scotland’s scenery.” Arthur’s Seat will undoubtedly be our next target in Edinburgh ! It dominates the whole place, the Queen’s residence as well as the New Parliament…

    Edinburgh Princes Street Garden - Edinburgh

    Edinburgh Princes Street Garden - Edinburgh

    8 – Princes Street Gardens

    No need to spend many days in Edinburgh to fall in love with it … just stroll along the place and let you be caught in the city atmosphere together with the people who live here. There is no better way to feel it than to sit on the grass in Princes Street Gardens, the beautiful gardens which separate Old town from New Town. Whatever the traffic, whatever the noise, it’s magic. Close your eyes and try to imagine that instead of flowers and trees you are surrounded by a marshy loch, for that was it here, a long time ago. Not so long ago, indeed, for the garden is about the same age as the new town which was built nearby in the 18 th century. Nor’ Loch was drained before being filled with the earth excavated from building Princes street, the houses of which would soon overlook kind of a big valley dominated by the old Castle, and later on the magnificent gardens we admire today ! But most of the original houses of Princes Street, build down only one side, have now disappeared to be replaced by department stores. Are you getting lost in time with all my stories, then go to the magnificent floral-clock which is flourishing in the garden. Not only it’s very beautiful in its seasonal looks but it will give you the right time…

    9 – Walter Scott Monument

    Walter Scott Monument - Edinburgh

    Walter Scott Monument - Edinburgh

    We do love Walter Scott and have pledged ourselves to read all his books… but it’s certainly easier to climb up the 287 steps of his 61 metres high neo-gothical monument, in Princes Street Gardens, than to read the whole of Waverley Novels. Anyway, we did climb up there ! What a view over Princes Street Gardens, the Old and the New Town… but don’t miss, while climbing up, to look out for the 64 niches which are to be found on the walls of the monument and make it a game to try and guess which character of Walter Scott’s novels is hiding there. A very difficult game but a very useful trick to get one’s breath back ! Scotiana’s “coup de coeur”: Walter Scot’s beautiful statue, carved in the purest white Carrare marble, with a book in his hand. I don’t know if the great Scottish writer would have liked to be honoured with such a monument in the midst of Edinburgh but he certainly would have liked to sit in company with his beloved dog, Maida….

    10 – Calton Hill

    Calton Hill - Edinburgh

    Calton Hill - Edinburgh

    Don’t be mistaken, you’re not in Greece but in Edinburgh ! Maybe the National Monument, this neo-classical building, partly explains why the town has often been called the Athens of the North and Calton Hill compared to the Acropolis ! A landmark in the postcard view of Edinburgh ! This Scottish Parthenon was built as a memorial dedicated to the Scottish soldiers killed during the Napoleonic wars but was never achieved. We climbed up the hill, which is about 100 meters high, and we were not disappointed. The weather was fine and the panoramic views were worthwhile the effort of climbing ! Maybe not a bad idea to begin the visit of Edinburgh here. Still better to climb up the 143 steps of the Nelson Monument. Once up there, try to find your bearings on the lively map which opens in front of you . You’ll soon recognize the town’s major landmarks : Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags, Holyrood Abbey and the Palace, the Old Castle, Princes Street, Waverley Station, Walter Scott’s monument and many more… Stevenson said it was on Calton Hill that we had the better view of the town since we can see at the same time the old Castle and Arthur’s Seat…

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    1 comment to Scotiana’s Top 10 in Edinburgh – Part 2

    • Enjoyed reading your guide – there really are loads to do in Edinburgh. My wife and I have been quite a few times now and we always find new things to see. We’d recommend walking up Calton Hill, seeing the Royal Yacht and the free tours of the Parliament building. We’ve written more ideas and suggestions of what to do in this free guide….

      Edinburgh City Guide

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