Scotland is known to many as the land of Bagpipes, stoic castles and impressive landscapes. It was through my trip to this incredible country that I learnt of the lesser known attributes of Scotland- Its gritty, grimy, bloody history which the city of Edinburgh evokes through the darkest corners, hidden dungeons and mysterious closes!
My trip to Scotland has been incredible.. real, yet surreal..being in Edinburgh made me feel like I was part of something larger, like being a part of a story which just refuses to succumb to silence. Edinburgh at first glance appears as a gorgeous town- grey and majestic.
Cobbled, well lined streets, eccentric colored walls lining the otherwise grey architecture, traditional bagpipers and the little local kilt shops- this is how I remember Edinburgh.
Walking along Edinburgh is like wandering in a maze.. the city interwines into itself at several junctions. History claims that the city was rebuilt several times, mostly structured one platform on top of another. As a result of this, several buildings we see are actually built over once existing settlements, which at that time had colonies of people living inside them! Travel guides often descrive Edinburgh as the “city buried alive”and this arrangement over time has given birth toan even more unique concept- of the closes!
Not to miss is the little Elephant house cafe, where J.K Rowling is said to have conceptualized the Harry Potter series. Edinburgh is an amazing concoction of an urban city lined with underground dungeons and graveyards hundreds of years old.
National geographic has listed Mary King’s close in Edinburgh is one of the most haunted places in the world. Walking down the flights of stairs into cooped up dark rooms where hundreds of families once lived in hiding was an extremely numbing experience. The tour was so fantastic that one would believe we were back in the war ages, as we walked through torture chambers, rooms of plague victims, medical wards, human body disposal gutters..all under ground!
The most interesting experience was walking into the room of the little plague stricken girl who was left behind by parents who never came back for her, and it is said she is still seen there from time to time.
After the Close tour, we walked down to the Princess Gardens. These gardens stand beautifully fertilized today. However, a lesser known fact is that this garden once used to be a lake, or a loch as the Scottish call it, which eventually filled up with organic matter from dead bodies disposed off in it over time!
The history of this town is dark, and it is what makes Edinburgh absolutely irresistible! The walk to Edinburgh castle is beautiful and very informative. The castle stands tall and strong atop the famous Castle Rock hill and hosts the most breathtaking views of the city.
Edinburgh castle can be seen from all parts of Edinburgh and is one of the most celebrated tourist spots in Scotland. It is a stoic stone structure resembling a mighty fortress and home to war museums relaying age old Scottish tales of bravery and victory.
The iconic Grass market, Greyfreir Bobby’s grave, the city council chambers, war museum, occasional Scottish ale breweries, Whiskey distilleries are a few tourist spots that I highly recommend. The traditional pubs and “beer cafes” of Edinburgh are divine as well.
Edinburgh is a classy town offering a wide range of activities. When in Scotland you must try the Scottish delicacy Haggis- primarily containing sheep meat. The people of Scotland are extremely nice and genuine, and love tourists. The best way to see Edinburgh is by walking around the city, through the shifting levels of the streets and dark tunnels leading to underground closes. Walking around the city is a marvelous experience and I highly recommend it.
It is commonly believed that the night life of a country is probably the best way to understand its culture. The most interesting spot was pub Frankenstein, which boasted of a dark yet extremely exciting atmosphere! Edinburgh is primarily a student town and one has many options to hang out, giving rise a popular culture amongst travelers called “club hopping”. Clubs, lounges, pubs and streets scaled with party hoppers-Edinburgh is an absolute delight!
I look forward to visiting the highlands at some point, and maybe I’ll go look for Nessie- The Loch Ness monster next time I’m there. Until then, if you’re visiting Edinburgh don’t forget to walk around as much as possible, as the real beauty of Scotland lies in imbibing not what it shows, but the stories it has to tell.
Until my next post, Guid cheerio the nou! 🙂