Let me just say that Christmas markets are pretty awesome, and Edinburgh’s is no exception. If you liked mulled wine, or hot apple toddies, or hot chocolate… or endless amounts of food and dessert and Christmas lights you will enjoy. At the center of the market is a carousel that has been converted to a bar, where you can order all sorts of festive drinks. This is surrounded by stalls selling sausages, crepes, waffles, burgers, pretzels…you get the idea, along with stalls selling crafts and jewelry. There are rides, games and shows, but for us it was fun just to wander around stopping for the occasional treat. Spending the start of the Christmas season away from home has been different, it doesn’t feel quite as festive, but this definitely made up for the lack of decorations in our apartment.
Edinburgh Castle is an impressive sight, sitting on top of a huge hill/cliff overlooking the city. As our guide told us, it has never been taking by force (just by cunning and siege). We visited the castle and its’ impressive collection of military museums and historical artifacts. The exhibits are more about the military than about the castle itself, but they are an interesting collection. The views from of the city from the top level were great.
We wandered through the Georgian new town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and considered to be a masterpiece in urban planning. The architecture is beautiful, and home to many shops and restaurants. Which, of course, we stopped in.
The National Museum of Scotland is an Edinburgh must-see. It houses quite a wide range of collections from dinosaur bones to Tibetan prayer wheels to ancient Viking relics. We took advantage of a free guided tour, which I recommend because the collections can be overwhelming. Afterward, we wandered through the Scottish history portion of the museum, which begins in the basement with exhibits on the land formation and takes you up six levels to modern day Scotland, with discussions of current politics and culture. Included are artifacts from William Wallace (Braveheart) and Robert the Bruce.
When not visiting museums or the castle, we wandered the Royal Mile and Grassmarket areas, wandering into a few farmers markets, shopping, eating and drinking. We did a whiskey flight at one pub, although I’d really like to try a more legit whisky tasting to learn about the flavors etc. Any recommendations for a good place for an educational whisky tasting?
Overall, it was a great weekend, if a bit chilly. The food was good, the mulled wine was warm and I will definitely be back, as it is only a (relatively) short train ride away.