Last weekend, I made my way to Edinburgh. This was my first true travel weekend while abroad, rather than just my day trips to London. My new friend Bethany (you can follow her here), hailing from Vancouver Island, and I left on Friday evening via train. Down to Kings Cross then up to Edinburgh. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many pictures of our Saturday adventures, the rain was just too much.
We arrived late in the evening at High Street Hostel and it was straight to bed. High Street Hostel has an interesting history actually, as does Edinburgh.
High Street Hostel operates inside a historical 470 year old building formally known as Morton House. The resident, Earl of Morton, was beheaded in 1581, a consequence of his involvement in the murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ husband.
Unfortunately, Bethany and I were placed in different dorms, though staying in a room with 9 other strangers was an adventure in itself.
We had an early start on the drizzly, and not very camera friendly, Saturday morning and were the first people into Holyrood Palace; official residence of the British Monarch and the main home of the Queens and Kings of Scots. The main attraction here is the 16th-century apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots, but I very much enjoy the ruins of Holyrood Abbey.
*Tip: Audio tours are awesome, but not so much if you have to hold them up to your ear like a phone. Bring a pair of earbuds, most audio tours will have an audio jack.
We made our way up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. I would definitely suggest buying tickets for the castle online rather than wait in line. Even on this rainy day in the offseason, the line took around 40 minutes.
After the castle, we had a very late lunch at Decon Brodies Tavern. This tavern honours the man who was the inspiration for the story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Our tavern is named after William Brodie, one of the inspirations for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde. Born in 1741 Brodie was a deacon of the Guild of Wrights. By day, he was a respectable citizen, a member of the town council but by night, he consorted with lowlife; gambling and drinking. His dark side meant he had to take to burglary to pay his gambling debts, leading to his hanging in 1788.
Unfortunately, the wait was long, but the amazing fish and chips were worth it.
We spent the rest of our daylight hours walking, shopping and exploring Edinburgh Old Town.
At night we decided to do an Auld Reekie, Vaults and Graveyard Tour. We were taken to Greyfriars Kirkyard, a graveyard with a very dark history. There is far too much history to go into depth about here but I’ll give you a short form. Graveyards are rarely seen as haunted as this is the place where souls are meant to move on and leave this earth, however, this land was originally a prison camp. Thousands of people were held here in very horrible conditions and most died. Those who survived were executed, dismembered and sent across the country to send a message. Eventually, most parts were sent back to be buried on the land. We were told that the land used to be a valley, but we were definitely standing on a pretty big hill. On top of that, the man responsible for the prisoner camp was buried in a mausoleum on the land as well.
On a bit of a lighter note. JK Rowling began the Harry Potter series while living in Edinburgh. She often walked this graveyard, taking inspiration from the names on the decrepit tombstones. You can find the name McGonagall and the tomb of a Thomas Riddell.
We then ventured into the vaults under the city. A bridge was built into the city, but it’s surrounded by shops making it quite hidden. Below these shops, in the bridge, vaults were built with the intention of being storage spaces for the shops above. The vaults leaked and became too wet to store anything to the poor moved in. These pitch black vaults was a community of crime. Absolutely horrible things would happen underground. Now, all the vaults are privately own by tours or pubs. One of the vaults was actually once rented out to a Wiccan group, but they moved out after too many incidents leaving everything behind.
On that note, it was straight to bed in those wonderful dorms full of the ambient sounds and musk of strangers.
Sunday morning was beautiful. Having to catch our train back at noon, we spent the morning doing some last minute shopping and taking some photos.
And the train ride home was beautiful.
*Just realised that I’ve almost written an 800-word essay. Thinking about starting to write these posts in parts. What do you think? Is this too long?