#tbt Travel Diaries - Great Scott! I Made it to Scotland
Welcome to the next segment of the #tbt Travel Diaries series, as I revisit my study abroad adventures in England. It was time to start going farther with my explorations, the last few trips had stayed close to home. And so a quick day trip up to Edinburgh and a new country of Scotland it was. So hopefully you guys enjoy coming down memory lane with me on this next one:
Original Blog Post March 3, 2013
Edinburgh in one word: Amazing. But before I explored there I took a little side trip farther north to St. Andrews to visit the oldest and probably most famous golf course in the world.
It was awesome to finally see the course after seeing it on TV and in video games so many times, especially being one of only people I’ll ever know who can say they’ve been to/on the course before is a plus. Would have been amazing to play on it, but we know that was just not going to happen. The five courses of St. Andrews Links, the old course being the one in the middle.
The 18th hole and the bridge that Jack Nicklaus ended his golf career on, probably one of the most known golf views. Would have took a picture on it but there were quite a few golfers that day.
See bridge+Jack Nicklaus. Credit to wherever I found this 8 years ago.
But not only was the course amazing, the whole town was just beautiful. It had this Beverly Hills, rich-y person type feel to it but minus the fancy, rich stores. The town was really clean (something I do not see very often in England), everyone was dressed preppy, even kids. Surprisingly it was a very young crowd roaming around, and it seemed like a very active community, saw a lot of people running/exercising, something I don’t see very often in my area. As you can probably tell, I really liked St. Andrews (the weather certainly helped too), its not the easiest of places to get to (you have to take a train out of Edinburgh and then a bus) but its a little gem to see if you do. Basically the town center was the street in the picture below. I only walked half way on it so I do not know what was located on the other side of town.
The town was so cool just sitting up on the cliffs.
The beach was huge and breath taking.
After a very quick visit I was off back to Edinburgh. If you have ever pictured what Scotland looks like in your mind, you probably pictured exactly how Edinburgh looked. The place was beautiful, to be honest I do not think I remember seeing a modern or newish looking building around, well except for the Parliament building and maybe on Princes Street. The buildings all had an old Scotch (is this the right term? I’m still learning when to use Scotch and Scottish) look to them and seemed to be kept up pretty well. Basically the architecture was beautiful, got me excited for what I’ll probably see in Amsterdam, thin, tall, old buildings. So basically you can hit most of the major attractions in one day in a big loop starting from the train station and ending there (the train station and Castle basically making up the middle of the loop), unless you want to visit the waterfront and hike the surrounding area then you will probably need another day. First thing you see coming out of the train station, the Scott Monument.
So I started out heading left out of the station down Princes Street, basically a long street that you can do all your shopping on as it had all the major stores.
I decided to loop around and head up to Edinburgh Castle. The castle was phenomenal and the views were hard to beat as it sits up high on a hill/mountain in the center of the city. This was looking south of the city.
Entrance into the Castle.
From inside the castle you get a better view of the other side of the city.
In the center of the photo below, hidden in the way back is the Nelson Monument and National Monument (looks like the Parthenon and a statue sticking up on a hill). This would have been the turning point back to the train station in the loop path I mentioned earlier if I had more desire to check them out and time. I decided to skip these and I wanted to do something more important which you will see later.
Now inside the castle:
As I said earlier I decided there was no rush to get to the monuments as I did something else I wanted to do instead. Of course its almost impossible to come to Scotland and not take a Whiskey tour, literally there was a Whiskey shop on every corner in Edinburgh. It would be terrible if you left Edinburgh, or all of Scotland for that matter, without drinking some Scotch Whiskey.
Although it would have been nice to go to an actual Distillery, there was no time to make a trip out to one so, The Scotch Whisky Experience it was. If you have ever done the chocolate tour at Hershey, the experience starts out just like that. The first part of the experience is a ride that brings you through the process to make whiskey, it was actually pretty neat. But unlike Hershey, once the ride is done you enter a tasting room and learn more about Scotch Whiskey. Here you get to try a sample of whiskey from one of the regions of Scotland, and as an added bonus you get to keep your whiskey glass. The tour ends with a visit to the largest collection of whiskey.
Seeing as Old Town and Grassmarket were just on the other side of the Whiskey experience and around the corner from the castle, I took a look around there before walking the Royal Mile. Grassmarket was an old square from the Old Town section of Edinburgh that was made up of basically just pubs and cafes spilling out on to the square. But the buildings in this area once again were beautiful.
From the Grassmarket you get a good view up of the castle overlooking the city.
The Royal Mile is the street that leads from the entrance to Edinburgh Castle to the entrance of the Palace of Holyrood, where the Queen stays when she is in Edinburgh. I can not say how beautiful this street was. It is pretty much lined with lots of tourist shops as well as your mom and pops mixed with a bunch of restaurants, cafes, coffeeshops, and bars. The farther you got from the castle and closer to the palace you got the quieter the street definitely got.
St. Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile.
House of Parliament
Palace of Holyrood seemed not the most open place to take pictures of unlike Buckingham Palace. The front gate area seemed to be the only way to get a glimpse of the Palace.
From the Queen's Palace, I would have headed for those aforementioned monuments and headed back to the train station to complete the loop. My train home though was leaving in a little while and not wanting to rush/little desire to see the monuments I decided to leisurely backtrack the royal mile to the train station and get dinner (shout out to Burger King which is like a whole another universe different and better then their restaurants in America, legit addicted to the fried cheese bites) before a nice 3 hour train ride back home. Edinburgh was just amazing and the weather could not have been more perfect, I had to take my jacket off a few times because it got too hot. The architecture was amazing, and the castle and views from it were breathtaking, all in all I would say the day could not have turned out any better.
Have you been to Edinburgh or Scotland before? I was lucky enough to have a return visit a couple year ago and it was still just as beautiful as I remember and so great to bring my friends out to see the beauty. It was also nice to still have plenty of places to explore that I had not been before. What are some of your favorite things to do in the city?
See you in the next adventure.
-The Wandering Professional