Early Friday morning we left our hotel for the airport. So long Edinburgh Native hotel…
Despite the two hour time change, we both got a good sleep. We woke up to Edinburgh summer: Freezing. The sun was poking out but the wind was swift and unrelenting. Our efficiency suite has a small bedroom, but nicely dark and quiet, and a larger “sitting” room with quite a lot of efficiencies, so we lined up laundry and whatnot and headed out into New Town.
The old walled city, tenements, pre-sewerage, is ludicrously touristy, every second shop kilts, tartans, whiskey, haggis and, yes, you can’t go into a tourist district without a fudge shop. We opted for a place in New Town, predominantly Georgian, a little less tat, a little less tourist appeal.
After coffee, some orientation, and a stroll around Princes Gardens, we met up with a walking tour group. For about two hours he took us through most of old town, described the filth of medieval Edinburgh, the soot, grime, vaults people lived in, the shit on the streets, the law that was passed to prevent bedpans being emptied before 10 p.m. when all hell broke loose and, God forbid you were leaving a pub at closing, and got shitfaced.
He talked about why the wall was built (to prevent an attack from Henry VIII who in fact never attacked), the old parliament, the various attacks on the castle, how when England and Scotland did reconcile the wealthy saw no reason to remain in squalor, and so New Town was built to accommodate. And, yes, we had to venture into Harry Potter and what inspired J K Rowling.
It was past noon after the tour, so we took a decently Scottish lunch at a place called Outsider. Then we walked the Royal Mile on our own, navigating the hordes, past Holyroodhouse, into New Town, and past the many private gardens and inaccessible parks. In contrast to London, Edinburgh has not had the soot and filth of centuries past sandblasted off its buildings and looks a fine example of coal heat.
For dinner we went to an upmarket local place called Grazing where for fifty quid they do a refined tasting menu. We were pleasantly surprised to see squab was not on the menu.
The sun came out late day and not unlike YVR, it was broad daylight well into evening; the parish church of St. Cuthbert (picture at top), with the castle behind, looked positively idyllic.