The Old Town of Edinburgh (prounounced ED-in-burrah or ED-in-burrow) is one of the most beautiful places I've ever encountered, with its medieval architecture and cobblestone streets. There's something haunting about the city—an ever so subtle eeriness lingers in the air—making it feel as if you're living in an old black-and-white horror film... Without all of the creepy monsters and crazy stalkers, of course. In reality, the locals are super friendly and the atmosphere is buzzing with tourists from all over the world. The streets are lined with quaint cafés, souvenir shops, and lively pubs, perfect for those of us who love to roam.
To begin our short trip, my travel buddies and I met up with Alyssa's longtime best friend, Victoria, who traveled from her home in Norway to spend the weekend with us in Scotland.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we all agreed that the two biggest things on our to-do list was Edinburgh Castle and the Scotch Whisky Experience. Although the forecast predicted rain for the entirety of our stay, we were lucky to only see a few light showers here and there.
Not surprisingly, I couldn't stop snapping photos from within the castle walls, and then again when we walked through the Prisons of War dungeons. The historical set-up looked surprisingly real, leaving little to the imagination. Casey even conjured up his acting skills and pretended to be an unlucky prisoner himself. (He'll do whatever it takes to "enhance" my photos.)
At the distillery, I put on my brave face and tried a tiny bit of whisky* from each of the four different regions of Scotland. I'm sure Dad would have loved the smokey kind, but I thought they were all equally disgusting. (Probably a good thing...I'm a lightweight!) Afterwards, some real refreshments—coffee and dessert—were desperately needed.
Sunday proved to be a lot busier, beginning with plans to tour both Holyroodhouse and the Queen's Gallery. As I expected, the royal palace was nothing less than exquisite, but the ruined abbey right behind it is what stole my heart.
Before saying goodbye to our new Norwegian friend, we all visited St. Giles' Cathedral for Sarah's candle-lighting tradition and then made our way to a Scottish pub for lunch. Casey and I ordered the steak and Guinness pie, which wasn't really pie at all, but rather something more like beef stew topped with flaky bread. Regardless, I ate the whole thing.
After Alyssa and I attended 4:30pm Mass at one of Edinburgh's lovely churches, the four of us (Casey, Alyssa, Sarah, and I) thought it a good idea to get in some exercise before dinner. So onto Arthur's Seat we went, rain jackets and cameras in tow. I'd be lying if I said that the climb up the hill was easy—a big hint that I'm extremely out of shape these days—but the view from the top (rainbow included) was completely worth every huff and puff it took to reach the top.
We concluded our Edinburgh trip with a hefty Italian dinner, complete with wine and dessert, and a spine-tingling underground ghost tour... Which, if I'm being honest, was probably my favorite part of the whole weekend. (Typical.)
I'm sure everyone on our trip would agree that visiting Edinburgh felt like going back in time. I loved every second I spent there, and if I had the chance to go again, I wouldn't hesitate for a second.
*Apparently, whiskey in Scotland is spelled without the "e," like "whisky." You learn something new every day.