I’ve always heard good things about Edinburgh, and I have to say that it fully lives up to its reputation. I’m here to celebrate my birthday tomorrow, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to do it. I really love cities with a medieval feel—cities with cobblestoned streets, Gothic architecture, tiny windy alleys—and Edinburgh has all of that.
The city is just beautiful.
There’s Gothic architecture all over the place, ancient cathedrals, a great garden, small, windy streets, and historic buildings. All of this is surrounding a castle that is perched high on a hill where you can find great views of the old city and the modern area that surrounds it.
Today, I walked around the city. Though I hate to use the word, the city is very charming. In many ways, it feels like Bruges. It’s medieval, well-preserved, peaceful, scenic, and romantic. Besides being a great city for young people (great nightlife), Edinburgh seems like a good place to have a romantic holiday. You come here with your significant other, spend some time in a bed and breakfast, explore the city, and fall in love all over again. Well, I didn’t do any of that, but I did fall in love with the city.
I took the free walking tour around the city, which lasts three hours and walks you around the old city with the guide pointing out the major sites and giving you some history. One of my favorite things about European travel is that in every city around Europe, you’ll find a free walking tour. Sure, the stories they tell are cheesy, but I find that the tours are a great way to orient yourself to a new city. You can learn a bit about the city, get your bearings, and find out the major sites to see. Tomorrow, I’ll head to the Edinburgh Castle and some of the other sites on the tour to better acquaint myself with them.
One of the highlights of my day was the visit to the National Museum of Scotland. Rising six floors, the museum covers the history of Scotland from the ice age until now. You’ll be able to learn the land’s geological, political, social, and economic history. I found the museum did a good job of explaining the history. They cover a lot of ground, and the interactive videos and artifacts are really well explained.
My only beef with the place was that the museum wasn’t laid out well. They design each floor to deal with a certain period of time, and while the order of the floors is good, it’s poor within each floor. Most are thematically, not chronologically, designed. While this lets you see each aspect of Scottish life in detail, it makes seeing the transition from one age or century to the next a little hard. It takes a bit of work to find out where the floor begins chronologically and where it ends.
For you backpackers out there, I recommend Castle Rock Hostel. It’s pretty cheap, and they run a lot of activities where you can meet other people. There’s a big common room, and the hostel is located right across from the castle, giving you an amazing view. I’ve had a lot of fun here the last few days. The beds are comfortable, and it’s great to have hot water. I know that doesn’t seem like a novelty, but I’ve been traveling Asia, where hot water is a novelty.
Edinburgh has been a great city. I often hate going to hyped-up locations because I usually am disappointed. Not this time. Edinburgh lives up to the hype. I haven’t even left yet, but I already want to come back. I can’t wait to spend the next three days exploring the city more, visiting the castle, Rosslyn chapel, and getting lost in the city’s windy, narrow streets.