After nearly a 3 hour flight north, we reached our stopover destination on the way to Iceland – Edinburgh.
It was actually cheaper to stop in Edinburgh rather than getting a direct flight to Reykjavik from Lisbon, and Nick wanted to visit this city so we thought why not.
We landed after lunch and got an Uber to our accommodation as it was a similar cost to getting the tram and a bus (but a lot quicker).
Our accommodation was a new one for us; we stayed in a student halls of residence! They make good use of this place in summertime when students are away.
It felt like we both went back in time in a small self-contained bedroom, but it was perfect for the 2 nights we needed it.It was located right by Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s digs when she’s in town (we just missed her!), and at the foot of Arthur’s Seat (a big hill that we didn’t have time to hike).
After dropping our bags off we strolled up the Royal Mile, so called as it is nearly exactly a mile between the Holyrood Palace and the castle. First stop, a Scottish pub lunch!
Edinburgh is gorgeous, and we felt like we were in a Harry Potter movie with all of the old stones, castles and churches around. J. K. Rowling started to write the books here, and you really can tell.
Note: We mentioned Harry Potter venues in Porto as well, as the author moved there for several years and took inspiration from there too. This is purely a coincidence, this is not a round the world Harry Potter tour!The next morning we made our way up to the castle for our allocated entey time. The castle grounds were sizeable, as you’d imagine, and there was a lot to see.
We walked around the garden and courtyards (in freezing conditions, 15 degrees in the middle of July!) and visited the royal apartments as well as the crown jewels. Really interesting.
After 2 hours or so of looking around, we reached the lightgun cannon just in time to witness the 1 o’clock gun shot.
The Scottish used to use this daily gun shot to ensure their clocks were set to the right time.
It’s pretty loud and can be heard all over the city and beyond. This was introduced after the ball clock they used to use wasn’t visible on foggy days.Interestingly, there’s also a map that shows the impact of the speed of sound.
For example, if you were in a boat off Leith (20min North by bus), when you heard the 1pm cannon it would be exactly 1pm and 10 seconds.After some mucking around trying to find jacket potatoes (we ended up going to Spudulike near the main station), we caught the bus 22 to Leith to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia.
Britannia is the yacht Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the Royal family used for over 40 years to travel around the world on official business. It has travelled over a million miles and stopped being used in 1997 because it was too expensive to continue running.
The Scotts won the tender and it is now moored in Leich for tourists to visit.
As a big fan of the Queen myself, I loved the visit as it gave me a glimpse at the Queen’s life. It was very interesting and beautiful.
It was cool to get up close and see the bedrooms and lounging areas that the likes of Princess Diana and The Queen used, as well as their distinguished guests such as Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.
We had Iron Bru, Scotch eggs, Tenants Scottich lager, and heard quite a lot of bagpipes. Mission accomplished!
Tomorrow we’re flying to Iceland for a week driving around the south of the island in a campervan.
- Edinburgh is suuuuper expensive. We’re glad we’re not staying longer budget wise. Probably not the best destination for a budget holiday.
- Definitely recommend staying around Holyrood Palace, the perfect launchpad to see the main sites. If you have more time, you can visit this palace too.
- Buy your castle tickets online, you can avoid queues and get an entry time slot (1hr window).
- You can buy tickets on the bus, but they require exact change. They won’t take notes. £1.70 each per trip, so have change on hand!
Fun fact – Scotland’s national animal is in fact a unicorn!