As I was stuck in the UK between Christmas and New Year anyway, I decided to just make the most of the holidays. Together with a colleague who was as stuck in this place as I was, we headed north to the capital of the Scots, Edinburgh.
The Scottish are a proud lot, with a strong sense of identity and nationalism. They will assert that they are not English, although they are British like their southern neighbors. And if you ask a Scot what their capital city is, they might answer Edinburgh, instead of London. They have their own parliament, which decides on Scottish matters with a large degree of autonomy from London, and they have a head of government called the First Minister. To say that Scotland is a “state” within the UK in the same way California is a state in the US, is not quite adequate, for Scotland is more than just a piece of the UK. Rather, it is another face of the UK altogether, distinct from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Edinburgh is blessed with an old city center that wasn’t ravaged by time. Like liquor, what makes it appealing is its age. Edinburgh’s old town, which retained the same layout that it had from the medieval period, runs the length of the “Royal Mile”, a piece of road stretching west to east, from Edinburgh castle to the Palace of Holyrood House.
Nothing in Edinburgh is more imposing than Edinburgh castle. Standing high up in a hill with steep cliffs on three sides and a gentle slope in one, Edinburgh castle has the unmistakeable air of royalty, like a crown above the city. The steep cliffs on its sides also make it a very ideal military fortification, and indeed it has been said that the castle was witness to the most number of sieges in British history.
A trip to the castle is a must for any visitor in Edinburgh, and the castles walls, towering high above the city, gives an unbeatable panoramic view of the lovely city.
A short walk from the castle is a peculiar, but entertaining attraction. The Camera Obscura, a device that allows groups of people to see objects at a distance through the clever use of mirrors and magnifying lenses, sits atop a building, and below it is 5 floors of optical illusion displays. The whole place is fun and educational, for kids and adults alike. The top of the building also gives a very good bird’s eye view of the city.
Edinburgh’s next grandest attraction, after the castle, is of course the old town. The center of Edinburgh feels like a museum where everyday life still takes place. A walk across the sloping, cobbled streets that are lined with old buildings on both sides, feels like a trip to the past. One could spend whole day here, poring over the rows of stores in the place.
Photos taken December, 2015