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Featured Destination: Edinburgh



{Editor's Note: When traveling to a particular city or country, the amount of museums, galleries, festivals, and historical sites can leave you feeling overwhelmed. My destination features include my favorite spots, exhibits, and things to see, and all opinions are my own.}

Never, ever, ever have I fallen so head-over-heels in love with a city (or country) before our trip to Scotland. I don't normally visit the same place more than once because there are so many places that I still want to see, but Scotland is one of the {very few} exceptions. Edinburgh has my heart. I'd move there tomorrow if I could, and would happily spend the rest of my life there. We're in the process of planning an epic three week trip back to Scotland for sometime in 2015 {see Scotland 2015 for details}, with a LONG stop in Edinburgh. It's one of those cities that you can't see in a day-or a week for that matter. But, since most people usually don't have that long, for your consideration, here are a few of my favorite things to do in the fabulous city of Edinburgh!

Edinburgh Castle

History, mystery, murder-this castle has seen it all! The castle has been home to many of Scotland's reigning monarchs, including Queen Margaret (who would later become St. Margaret) whose on-site chapel bears her name. St. Margaret's Chapel is not only the oldest building in the castle, but the oldest in Edinburgh. It was built around 1130 by St. Margaret's fourth son, King David in her memory.  St. Margaret's Chapel Guild was formed in 1942. Anyone named Margaret who has been a Scotland resident for at least a year can apply for membership to the guild. It is the duty of members to supply the chapel with fresh flowers year around, and so only those names Margaret who belong to the guild can lay them in the chapel. The tiny church is available for weddings also-how neat would that be!

The outside of St. Margaret's Chapel. It looks big here, but only holds 25 people max

The alter inside of St. Margaret's Chapel

Edinburgh Castle is also home to the National War Museum, and covers over 400 years of their history. Out of respect, no photos are allowed inside, which is why I don't have any posted. Admission is included in your entry fee, so be sure to check it out.

I think just about everyone has seen Braveheart, right? While you're at the castle, check out David's Tower. Built by David II, who was the son of King Robert the Bruce. The ruins of his tower are located UNDER the half moon battery.

Stop by the royal apartments to see where the royalty stayed when they sought the refuge of the castle. Look over the doors for the guilded initials MAH for Mary, Queen of Scots. Speaking of Mary, you can also visit the birthing chambers of King James VI of Scotland {and I of England}.

If you should find yourself in Edinburgh during August, grab some tickets to The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We typically go in October or November, so it's something that I've never had the chance of seeing in person, but from what I hear, it's spectacular. 



There's so much more to see at the castle-you can easily spend a few days exploring.  But there's more to Edinburgh than just the castle!


The view from the top-and I was lucky enough to get a rainbow in the shot! That's the North Sea in the background

The top of the Half Moon Battery

One of the perks in going in October /  November is that you can get some amazing shots like this one uninterrupted by the crowds!



The Royal Mile

The royal mile is the main thoroughfare in historic Old Towne Edinburgh. It's an an eclectic mix of shops, restaurants, pubs, and it's a great follow-up to do after the castle.

The Royal Mile is also home to St. Gile's Cathedral, famous for it's crown spire. St. Giles was originally founded in the 1120's, though there are records of a possible church existing on that site since the year 854. It's also home of The Thistle Chapel, home of the Order of the Thistle, which is one of the highest honor's given in Scotland, with inductions coming only from the reigning monarch.  While there is no entry fee, they do respectfully ask for a donation of 3 British Pounds  Stirling to visit. If you wish to take pictures of this beautiful cathedral, they request that you to purchase a "permit for photography" for two British Pounds Stirling. Well worth the money in my opinion because the cathedral is stunning.






There are also lots of restaurants and pubs on The Royal Mile also. We've been to a few, including Deacon Brodie's Tavern. It's walking distance from the castle, and the food was delish. They also have a HUGE selection of beers. There's also Maggie Dicksons, another pub in the area with an interesting story behind it. Maggie Dickson was a girl who lived in the early 18th century.  After an affair that left her pregnant, the baby was born prematurely and died within a few days. She needed to hide the baby's existence, and was planning on putting the little body into the River Tweed, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She left it on the river bank, and was soon traced back to her. She was brought to Edinburgh for her trial and execution, and was publicly executed on the Grassmarket in 1724. The only problem is that she didn't die. While she was pronounced dead and put into a coffin, someone heard her knocking before she was buried and saved. Back then, it was seen as "God's will" and so she was freed and ended up living a good forty years more.


There are also lots of little coffee shops, so when we need a break, we'll stop for some, put our feet up, and people watch.


Palace of Holyrood House

The foundation of the palace dates back to the rule of David I in 1128, and originally held a tiny church on it's site, which was then expanded many times through the years. Today, it is still an official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, and she typically spends about a week each year there during Holyrood Week during the end of June / beginning of July. One of it's most famous long-term residents was Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary had her own apartments here and married both of her in the palace.

The ruins of Holyrood Abbey

The courtyard


My picture in front of the gates. One of my favorite pictures ever!
 You can also explore the inside and the gardens-provided that the royal family aren't in residence. The ruins of Holyrood Abbey still stand despite all that they've been through over the centuries.  It was known as a "debtor's sanctuary" in the 16th century, and anyone in debt could escape their creditors by taking sanctuary there. Rumor has it that the naked ghost of Agnes Sampson, who was accused of witchcraft and then stripped and tortured, still wander the property.

There's SO much more to do and see in Edinburgh if you have the time! Be on the look out for part two!

Until next time,

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