A Vacation in Scotland: Exploring Edinburgh

As June turned to July Pam and I traveled to Scotland for a vacation. We had a great time exploring and experiencing Edinburgh and the Highlands. It was wonderful to spend time with Matt and Lauren. In addition to being excellent company they also gave us great tips and lined up many of the details for us when we were on our own. Thanks to their help we were able to make the most of our visit.

We arrived in Edinburgh on Friday morning (SBP⇒ SFO⇒ YYZ ⇒EDI). After the overnight flight we relied on caffeine and adrenaline, skipped a nap, and explored Edinburgh. During our time in Scotland we saw Edinburgh, Fort Augustus, Inverness, and Aberfeldy. I’m going to split the blog posts up into a few sections: Edinburgh, the Botanic Gardens, the Highlands, and the Drummond Castle gardens.

Here are some highlights from Edinburgh.

We stayed in a great flat near the Grassmarket. The Edinburgh Castle sat above the flat and Grassmarket, very conspicuous and very cool.

The Edinburgh Castle viewed from Grass Market.

The Edinburgh Castle viewed from Grassmarket.

On our first day we went to the National Museum of Scotland. The museum houses all sorts of interesting things. The rooftop garden has some great plants and good views of the city. The main room is also impressive.


The National Museum of Scotland main room.

We toured the Edinburgh Castle. From the castle walls the views of the city were impressive. We saw St. Cuthbert’s Church, where we went to a Sunday service with Matt and Lauren. The church is very old and grand.

Saint Cuthbert's.

Saint Cuthbert’s Church, viewed from the Edinburgh Castle.

Edinburgh 10sf

Saint George’s Church, viewed from the Edinburgh Castle.

The Holyrood Palace was not open to visitors because the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were in residence. We walked to the gate, but we were not able to go inside.

The Holyrood Palace was closed during our visit.

The Holyrood Palace was closed during our visit.

The old streets were fun to walk. The Royal Mile was great, and many lesser known streets were also well worth exploring. So much history.

Walking the streets.

Walking the streets.

On the Royal Mile we saw the David Hume statue with the lucky toe (notice the different color of the big toe, polished by many visitors grabbing it for luck). This is a humorous tradition, considering Hume despised talk of superstition and luck.

The lucky toe.

David Hume and his lucky toe.

While sitting on the top half of a doubledecker bus we got stuck in traffic. But it was a fortuitous traffic jam. Traffic stopped for a parade. And we had a front row (second level) seat.

A parade.

A parade.

Edinburgh 4sf

We hiked to Arthur’s Seat. The hike was a pleasant stroll. At the top we had spectacular 360° views of the coastline, towns, and the city. So much green.

A photo from Arthur's Seat.

A photo from Arthur’s Seat.

As we were hiking up the trail intermittent rain was falling. This resulted in dramatic mixes of clouds and sun.

The view from Arthur's Seat.

The view from Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh on a sunny, cloudy, rainy, and clear day.

The view from Arthur's Seat.

The  Edinburgh Castle viewed from Arthur’s Seat.

Pam on Arthur's Seat.

Pam looks at Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat.

On the hike back down we stopped at the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. From there Calton Hill was impressive.


Calton Hill viewed from the St. Anthony’s Chapel ruins.

In Edinburgh we saw a very cool clock made from plants.

A clock of plants.

A clock of plants.

Edinburgh is such a fun city to explore.

A picture with the castle.

A picture with the castle.

Another place we visited was Bruntsfield Links. it is one of (if not the) oldest public golf courses in Scotland (and maybbe the world?). I played 36 holes of golf–which was pure bliss.


Golfing at Bruntsfield Links.



Highlights from the course include sinking a 41 ft chip, getting complimented by an elderly Scottish golfer with a delightful accent (“Great green shot!”) when I hit a green in regulation, and just soaking up how fun it was to be on this old course.

Lining up a putt.

Lining up a putt.

During my time in Edinburgh I often referred to the Scott Monument as the Villain’s Lair (you can see it in my picture of Edinburgh Castle from Arthur’s Seat in the lower right part of the photo). It reminds me of a place where an evil genius would reside. I paid a few pounds to take the staircase to the top. It was probably the narrowest staircase I have ever navigated. The staircase opening shrinks on the ascent, so by the time you reach the top it is very small.

The view from the villain's lair.

The view from the villain’s lair.

These photos and words are just a glimpse of what we experienced in Edinburgh. I’ll follow up with more from the trip soon.


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