As you step off the train in Edinburgh, you suddenly find yourself immersed in medieval and Georgian architecture. You look around thinking you'll find Harry, Hermione and Ron flying by (or at least I kind of wished they would).
This was my second trip to the enchanted city, and I hope to be back. There is much to see in the city. I'll attempt to give you some highlights.
Edinburgh became the capital city of Scotland in the 15th century, and since then, though with its share of battles, mainly against England, the city began to boom. To keep up with its population growth, the city's main housing was in the form of tenement buildings, which in today's terms would be high-rise apartments. Some of these buildings stretched as high as 14 stories. Though impressive in height, many of Edinburgh's tenement buildings were built poorly and very close to one another.
Here are some examples of what these buildings looked like until the 1800's.
After one of these buildings collapsed, new building codes were regulated, and today, what was once considered the slums of Edinburgh, these tenement buildings have been transformed to one of the most expensive living quarters in the UK.
Atop the city, you will find Edinburgh's castle, perched on an inactive volcano. As you walk toward the entrance of the castle, you're greeted by two statues: one of Robert the Bruce, and the other, William Wallace. These two figures were instrumental in defining Scottish identity, and thirst for freedom from English rule. Tickets to get in range from £10-17 ($15-26) depending on your age. If castles are not so fascinating to you, then don't put your hard-earned cash there. But if you're interested in castles, I think it's worth the ticket price.
Another royal part of town you can take a look at is Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is after all, where the last king of Scotland, James VI was born. James later became King James I of England, uniting Scotland and England once and for all (unless of course the Scots decide otherwise). This too will cost you up to £11 per person.
The cheapest and most effective way of knowing Edinburgh is to walk the city.
In fact, this time around I took a free walking tour by Sandeman's New Europe Walking Tours. I highly recommend doing this, and if you can, do it before you begin exploring on your own, as it'll give you some guidance.
Finally, don't forget your friends and family back home. It's nice to send them a postcard or two. It's a nice way of saying, "too bad you're not here, but here's a postcard."
To end, here are some famous/influential Scotsmen...
Lord Kelvin, of the Kelvin Scale of absolute temperature; Adam Smith, Father of Modern Economics, and David Hume, Philosopher.