Sunday, July 25, 2010

Edinburgh Scotland

Side street off Royal Mile
Green space in city centre   
Edinburgh, Scotland is still cool enough  in mid summer to navigate easily without suffering heat exhaustion like in the more southern parts of Europe.  The tourist crush remains mainly on the Royal Mile in the Old Town and along the shopping district of Princess Street in the New Town.  Any distance off these two heavily trafficked thoroughfares will find you in local neighborhoods with a truer sampling of the real city.  Neighborhood restaurants and pubs are much more pleasant than their touristy counterparts as is true in most big cities.

Elder York Guest House
My recommendation for lodging is Elder York Guest House near the heart of the city.  It is located just a few short blocks from the Waverly train station - airport buses drop a the train station.  Harry and Shirley are very accommodating hosts and provide any kind of breakfast (included) you desire from full Scottish to vegetarian to continental buffet.  Be sure to use the ear plugs you always keep in your travel bag since street noise lasts late into the night and starts early in the morning.  I consider this a small price to pay to be in the center of town.  Rates during my stay was L45 ($67.50 at $1.50 to the pound sterling) per person per night.  In late June and early July the sun sets around 11 pm and rises way too perkily just after 4:30.

If you find you have packed too lightly (OK, that's a dumb statement), there are a ton of charity second hand stores where you can get wooly jumpers (wool sweaters)  for $10 or shirts for $3. Things are expensive in the U.K. and lots of people shop these places to stretch their paychecks   Second hand kilts are only sold in the two "vintage" clothing stores starting at about $40.  If you are thinking you need a kilt, price them first.  You will soon be looking in the vintage stores, but I never found one that fit. .

There are three different double decker city tour buses available to get the lay of the land before you strike out on your own.  Each has a slightly different itinerary and I find them to be an easy way, the lazy person that I am, to get an overview of places or attractions I want to visit later.  The tickets are good for 24 hours and are "hop-on, hop-off" priced at 11 pounds.
Edinburgh Castle
Walking up to the Royal Mile
Tartan weaving