Another day, another breakfast at the hotel and Lawn Bowling.
(BTW – the day I started writing this was exactly one week from when we saw the Edinburgh Tattoo 2022 and I bought tickets for the Edinburgh Tattoo 2023. I guess we’re going back)
We had decided to give the Hop-On/Hop-Off busses a try so we walked over to the Ocean Terminal to get the Blue Bus. It arrived the same time as we did so we got on, got our headphones and started to listen to narration about buildings and historical events around us.
While riding, we decided to get off at Saint Andrews Square and switch to a Green Bus to see what else was available.
The Green Bus had a live running commentary which got pretty annoying so we got off at stop 6 (the John Knox House) and walked down the Royal Mile to Canongate Kirk (Stop 5) to resume the Blue Bus
Walking downhill in Edinburgh whenever possible is a really good idea. The Royal Mile is actually built on the top of a volcano with the Castle at the top and Holyrood Palace at the other. The route runs from an elevation of 42 metres (138 ft) above sea level at the palace to 109 metres (358 ft) at the castle, giving an average gradient of 4.1%.
Besides being hilly, it’s all cobblestones.
We waited a bit at Canongate Kirk – The Kirk (Church) of the Canongate, or Canongate Kirk, serves the Parish of Canongate in Edinburgh’s Old Town, in Scotland. It is a congregation of the Church of Scotland. The parish includes the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament. It is also the parish church of Edinburgh Castle, even though the castle is detached from the rest of the parish.
The Canongate is a street and associated district in central Edinburgh. The street forms the main eastern length of the Royal Mile while the district is the main eastern section of Edinburgh’s Old Town.
It began when David I of Scotland, by the Great Charter of Holyrood Abbey c.1143, authorised the Abbey to found a burgh separate from Edinburgh between the Abbey and Edinburgh. The burgh of Canongate that developed was controlled by the Abbey until the Scottish Reformation when it came under secular control. In 1636 the adjacent city of Edinburgh bought the feudal superiority of the Canongate but it remained a semi-autonomous burgh under its own administration until its formal incorporation into the city in 1856.
The burgh gained its name from the route that the canons of Holyrood Abbey took to Edinburgh – the canons’ way or the canons’ gait, from the Scots word gait meaning “way”. In more modern times, the eastern end is sometimes referred to as part of the Holyrood area of the city.
The Blue Bus for the first one back to the stop so we hopped on. While we were on the dotted section of the map above our narrator mentioned Market Street and the Edinburgh Dungeon. Although we didn’t go in to the dungeon, I noted that where we wanted to be was nearly across the street at 1 Cockburn aka the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Office. We had been there before but had always walked down the hill from the Royal Mile and I knew it was near the Waverly Train station but hadn’t related it to the bus route.
The bus went down a bit of a hill so I knew we didn’t want to get off and walk back up to get to the Tattoo Office so we saved that errand for another trip.
Info about the dungeon for the curious. At 0:45, to the left of the video, there’s a rounded building on the corner- that’s where we needed to be.
So, we rode around on the Blue Bus for until we got back to Saint Andrews Square. Since all busses start and end there, we assumed (remember from the travel day?) we needed to get off but the helpful person from the bus company said to get back on. So, we did!
A view of the Castle from Princes Street. Looking closely, you can see some of the viewing stands for the Tattoo.
More photos from the bus
When we got to the Royal Botanic Garden, we got off. First order of business was having a lunch, which was wonderful. We sat out on a deck overlooking the gardens. The photos below are from the garden and lunch.
Back on the bus, we could see a cruise ship docked outside the Ocean Terminal
After we got back to the hotel, I had a cunning plan for tomorrow night. I thought we could get back on a Blue Bus and get to our hotel after the Tattoo. I actually, contacted the bus company and they responded with a personal note!! Sadly, like Blackadder’s Cunning Plans, mine didn’t work out.
Map and times for to take a regular bus.
I’ll have another plan tomorrow, which also won’t work out.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
While I was getting dressed, Tom went out to feed the parking meter outside our hotel. Edinburgh is a very old town and they didn’t plan on parking lots when they built it.
Their system is – you find a ticket box with confusing directions and put some amount of coins in it. If you’re local, you can get a mobile app. The machine spits out a voucher that goes on the car dash. We did it wrong the night before and ended up getting 2 vouchers to put on the car. The police woman was coming by and we explained to her why there were the 2 vouchers.
Then we went into the little restaurant there for breakfast – we’d paid for it when we checked in. At first, I thought the usual cereal/fruit/yogurt spread was it but then they came and asked about eggs and hot foods so we had quite a meal.
At check-out the hotel staff let us move our car into their tiny 6-car lot behind the building when we said we were touring Edinburgh for the day. That would save us some time and money running back to the meter.
As it turns out, Tom hadn’t quite put enough in the meter to cover breakfast, so we had a ticket when we went out. 🙁
It was for £60 or $92.57 at today’s exchange rate. We paid it that day to get the 50% discount rare for early payment. <sigh>
We walked back up toward the Castle to find our double decker bus and got all the way to the Royal Mile before we found it. We were able to sit on the top, although not together for a while.
- Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is at the end of the Royal Mile. We were lucky in that Queen Elizabeth was in residence – so we couldn’t go in 🙁 She was there for some ceremony that was taking place in a couple days.
- Scottish Parliament. This building is really strange looking. I have some pictures in my slideshow at the end of this post. The good thing is that it’s right across the street from the Palace but I doubt that the royals ever walk. They probably don’t hike up the Royal Mile, either.
- Sir Walter Scott Monument. The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world. It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station, which is named after Scott’s Waverley novels.The tower is 200 feet 6 inches high, and has a series of viewing platforms reached by a series of narrow spiral staircases giving panoramic views of central Edinburgh and its surroundings. The highest platform is reached by a total of 287 steps (those who climb the steps can obtain a certificate commemorating their achievement – we didn’t!).
- Old Town. The Old Town (Scots: Auld Toun) is the name popularly given to the oldest part of Scotland’s capital city o fEdinburgh. The area has preserved much of its medieval street plan and many Reformation-era buildings. Together with the 18th-century New Town, it forms part of a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
- New Town. This is a central area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is often considered to be a masterpiece of city planning It was built in stages between 1767 and around 1850, and retains much of the original neo-classical and Georgian period architecture. Its most famous street is Princes Street, facing Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town across the geographical depression of the former Nor Loch.
- National Museum of Scotland
- Grassmarket. It’s a historic market place located directly below Edinburgh Castle and forms part of one of the main east-west vehicle arteries through the city centre. The view to the north, dominated by the castle, has long been a favorite subject of painters and photographers, making it one of the iconic views of the city.
- Edinburgh Castle. I loved how we could see the Castle from everywhere. Look down an alleyway or a close and there it is looming over the city.
- Greyfriars Bobby. I had never heard of this until this bus tour although we had walked by the statue 3 times already! On our 4th pass-by, we saw several people taking pictures of the statue. I guess they knew. Bobby was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19th-century Edinburgh for supposedly spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner until he died himself on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films, and a prominent commemorative statue and nearby graves act as a tourist attraction.
- The Elephant House. Opened in 1995, The Elephant House has established itself as one of the best tea and coffee houses in Edinburgh. Made famous as the place of inspiration to writers such as J.K. Rowling, who sat writing much of her early novels in the back room overlooking Edinburgh Castle. J.K. Rowling started to write parts of Harry Potter here. A huge sign on the entrance let’s you know the following: “This is the birthplace of Harry Potter”. To be fair to you, this isn’t 100% true!
Ian Rankin, author of the bestselling Rebus novels, and Alexander McCall-Smith, author of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and other series of novels, have also frequented The Elephant House, as well as many others throughout the years.
- The house of Sir James Young Simpson, 1st Baronet (7 June 1811 – 6 May 1870) at 52 Queen Street.. He was a Scottish obstetrician and an important figure in the history of medicine. Simpson discovered the anesthetic properties of chloroform and successfully introduced it for general medical use.
- The house of Alexander Graham Bell. He lived from March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922 and was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone.
- Our driver also pointed out that Edinburgh was actually 2 cities, one above the other and we could see that when looking down all the bridges. We were usually on the top but there was more going on below.
This video pretty much covers what we saw on the bus tour:
After we’d been all the way around the bus tour, we got off at the Royal Mile and hiked up to the Castle. There was an ice cream truck on the esplanade that warranted a stop 🙂
I have to say that inside the castle, everything goes uphill. It takes about 20 minutes to make it to the top and I just couldn’t make it, thanks to Cushing’s energy issues and my leg biopsy. I felt so guilty. I had wanted to get to the top to see the Scottish National War Memorial. I know my grandfather’s name is inscribed in the Book of Remembrance there. I felt really terrible that we had gotten so close and I just couldn’t make it the final trek up the hill. Hopefully, I can be stronger another time and see this.
The ice cream truck doesn’t show in this video:
Rick Steves video on Edinburgh, including inside the castle.
After sitting and resting for a while, we headed back down the castle hill, the Royal Mile and down the street towards our hotel.
On the way back, a hoodie outside a store caught my eye. While we were looking at it, a guy asked if he could help find my size. He had just been walking up the street but he was the shop owner. We went in and found something even better, with a matching one for Tom. I ended up also buying a cap and some other stuff. While I was looking around, I realized this was the same store where we’d bought the junk food for dinner the night before. I had been so tired/hungry that night I hadn’t even noticed that they sold hoodies, tshirts and stuff.
The shopkeeper spent a lot of time with us, looking in the back for the matching sweatshirts in the correct sizes. When he was done, he threw in a package of Walker’s shortbread for free! I wish I could remember the name of this shop so I could give it a good review on Trip Advisor. We save all our receipts, so hopefully I can find that name.
We continued on our way and a guy with sequined gold dress came running out of a doorway. I sure hope he was part of the Fringe Festival!
We got back to the Edinburgh City Hotel to get our car and I found I’d become mayor. 🙂
So, that really made my day. LOL
The drive back was pretty uneventful. We had some of the shortbread and I have to say it wasn’t nearly as good as mine.
When we got back to our place, I found out why.
We saw those tent people by the side of the road again. Gypsies? I couldn’t get a picture again. I’ll have one more time to try this on Saturday. They’ve been there at least 5 days. Surely, the police have seen them.
Back to our place!
It turns out that Walker’s uses whole wheat flour and I use rice. They use sugar, I use confectioner’s sugar. Other than that, the ingredients are the same. The flour, butter, confectioner’s sugar and a bit of salt.
Walker’s is definitely not bad, just different.
Shortbread used to be my standard Christmas gift for local people but they mostly can’t eat shortbread anymore due to the butter, the sugar and the salt. <sigh>
When I was a kid, my dad’s congregation had a lot of Scottish members. One of the worst insults that could said was “She makes her shortbread with margarine“. What an epithet!
My slideshow for today