My friend Gail and I have been planning our Scotland trip for months and it’s finally here. Our flights were on time and not too painful. The British Air planes are no better or worse than most but the cabin crew was cheerful and kind.
When we arrived in Edinburgh about 9:30am we had no trouble with luggage, easily found an ATM, and a very lovely Information Desk person who led us to Bus 100 going downtown (the bus leaves the airport every 10 minutes and takes about 30 minutes to town, it costs €7.50 round trip). Our hotel, The Inn Place, was steps away from Waverley station, the last stop on the line. Everything was going well until the hotel receptionist told us we would pay on departure. We’d booked the hotel on Travelocity and paid! Two hours later (most of that long distance to Travelocity on my cell!!!!) we still hadn’t resolved the issue! Not only will I never book through Travelocity again but my faith in the intelligence of human beings has been seriously challenged! The people I talked to must have said they were sorry for my inconvenience 100 times, but not one of them could give me an answer or explanation, even the “manager” I talked to was clueless. They have a reservation, and they show it paid, but the hotel receptionist doesn’t have the payment and Travelocity can’t resolve it. Finally the hotel receptionist said the hotel would try to find a resolution. Determined not to let this spoil a good day, we resolve to put the hotel problem behind us and start our vacation. It’s 12:3Witchery restaurant near Edinburgh castle. (A client recommended it to me and I’ll thank her when I get home)
The Witchery is about a 7 minute walk up the Royal Mile and easily found. Our reservation is in the Secret Garden and it’s charming. The menu isn’t extensive and the food was only okay, we both had fish pie, but the experience was just what we needed. A good glass of wine does wonders for the spirit!
After Lunch we walked to Waverley bridge to get on the Hop on Hop off bus. We’re tired but need to stay up for a few more hours! It’s a gray day with sprinkles off and on, it’s chilly but our light jackets are fine. The upper deck of the double deck bus is half covered and half open air. The off and on rain dictates our choice – covered it is. We’re both fighting sleep as the bus takes us through old and then new town Edinburgh.
The city is compact and very walkable. Our hotel, The Inn Place, Edinburgh is extremely well situated a block from the Royal Mile, and a block from Waverley Station (the transportation hub). Immediately beside our hotel entrance is a “clos”, a narrow alley with steps going straight up to The Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a street that runs directly from Edinburgh Castle down the hill to Holyrood palace (hence the name Royal Mile). The cobbled street is lined with shops and restaurants, street performers, cart vendors, monuments, and beautiful architecture. Parts of the Royal Mile are pedestrian only, but not all, you do have to remember the British traffic pattern before crossing the street!
Finally about 4:30 we head to the hotel tired and ready for a good night’s sleep. I had read that the street can be noisy at night so I had requested a room high up. Our room is on the top floor and it’s lovely. Not huge, but recently renovated and good quality. Good linen, comfortable beds, fluffy towels, and ultimately a wonderful shower. Unpacked and showered, we fall into bed and sleep like the dead waking to a sunny Edinburgh morning.
View from our hotel room
World’s End pub, built in the early 1700. It was called World End because it was on the edge of the walled city. Beyond the walls was dangerous, if you were outside the city gate when enemies or raiders arrived you were out of luck. The gates wouldn’t be opened to let you back in, so the pub was at the world’s end.
Arthur’s seat – if I was in Edinburgh another day I’d hike it and bring a picnic. In this case though it was fun to watch the crazy people hiking uphill for a half hour to see the view.
A little background….
Edinburgh – a little background.
The Royal Mile. Taken from http://www.royal-mile.com/history/history-royalmile.html
People have been living on Castlehill for the last 7000 years . The castle area has been a hillfort for over 2000 years. The name Edinburgh comes from the ancient Gaelic “Dun Eidyn” which means ‘hill fort on the sloping ridge’. The Royal Mile runs down the East shoulder of this once active volcano and this is what gives the Royal mile its distinguishable geographical location. It was 325 million years ago during an ice age that the immense pressure of moving glaciers carved out its profile.
The Royal Mile is actually more than a mile by 107 yards. It starts at the Castle entrance to the gates of Holyrood Palace. From the Castle esplanade which leads into the Royal Mile as you walk down the hill travelling East there are several streets which connect to make up the Royal Mile. Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street, Cannongate, and Abbey Strand which leads to Holyrood Palace.
It was in 1124 when King David I saw the hill fort on the crag and the clachan or village which supplied goods to the noblemen, soldiers, and monks in the fort. David I was immediately inspired to remodel what had become by 1128 the Burgh of Eiden. He granted trading rights to the township and the Lawnmarket became an open air trading market. He then went about setting out the High Street which even then was referred to as Via Regis which means the Way of the King. It is possible that this is where the name Royal Mile originates.
Grand timber buildings were constructed and named after the landowners and this tradition can still be seen today on the present Royal Mile. The gaps between the buildings are called closes after the ‘dividing enclosures’. The enclosures had large gardens which housed livestock. This medieval garden city was destroyed, its houses burned in 1544 by the English, during the period called the Rough Wooing. Henry VIII of England ordered its destruction because he was trying to force the Scots to allow his son to marry the infant Mary (Queen of Scots).
By 1591 the houses were mostly made of stone but the overcrowding conditions were becoming increasingly unsanitary, although within the Cannongate the nobility were living in grand mansions with lovely gardens.By 1645 things were far worse with as many as 70,000 people living within the Royal Mile. Some buildings were fourteen stories high and there could be three hundred people living in one block with up to ten people sharing a single room. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that street cleaning was organised.
The publisher and Lord Provost William Chambers in 1865 began to change all this and two years later extensive modern restorations had been carried out. He built the new tenements on Blackfriars Street and St Mary’s Street. The Old West Bow was demolished, and Cockburn Street cut through a maze of buildings joining it to the train station.Further work was carried out in the 1880’s by Patrick Geddes, town planner and Botanist, who remodelled the Cannongate section and the top of the Mound. He designed courtyards and gardens which were reminisant of what the Royal Mile had looked like 500 years earlier.