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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Awesome Things to Do in Edinburgh & Beyond

Over the next few weeks, you're going to be seeing a lot of posts about my time in Scotland and England, both of which I highly recommend visiting. Our time in Edinburgh was short but full, and I can't wait to go again and explore more of the country. 

For now, I wanted to give a quick preview of what we did that was sponsored by the lovely people of Visit Scotland, and then you can look forward to more in-depth posts on each.

Royal Yacht Brittania

North of the city center is Leith. Surrounded by water, this is a gorgeous little area that also houses the yacht that used to be a holiday sailing yacht for the Royal family. They would travel the world and host dignitaries by throwing lavish dinner parties. They would also work on their holidays (or, at least the Queen did) and had set schedules. They even had a smaller boat to use for excursions. 

The crew would take detailed notes on where they had been, and the Royal family would choose where they wanted to wake up the next morning. This is fantastic a look into how the Royals lived before other forms of transportation became easier and more luxurious. It was really like a mini floating palace.

Camera Obscura

Over 100 years ago, a female optician created this awesome way to use mirrors and light to view things on the ground from a tower. Sort of like a low-tech security camera. The original inverted bowl is still located at the top of Camera Obscura, but now the four floors below it are dedicated to weird and cool optical illusions. The entire place is interactive and each floor has a theme. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw a lot of pics already, including my time in the Vortex Tunnel.

Edinburgh Castle

Wherever you are in the city, the castle is almost sure to be visible. Set high up on a hill (a hill you must climb), the castle is a dramatic backdrop, but also an interesting bit of Edinburgh history. You can walk through dungeons and see the Crown Jewels all in the same visit. You'll see everything in between too, so wear your walking shoes. 

If you're worried about missing anything, because there's a lot, don't worry, because you get an audio guide. There are also amazing views of the city from the castle walls.

National Mining Museum

We probably wouldn't have seen this hidden gem if we weren't going to a wedding up the road, but I'm so glad I looked at what was nearby before I left. This two-story museum tells you all about the mining industry and the treatment of the workers. 

I'll be honest, the biggest reason I wanted to visit is because tours are run by ex-miners, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I learned. I have even more respect for those that mine and was able to ask a lot of questions since our group was so small.

The Palace at Holyrood House

We all expected Holyrood to be similar to the castle tour, but we were very wrong. Because the palace was quite small (in comparison), it was much easier to navigate (you also get an audio guide) and take in. It only takes about an hour to tour, and you can't take pictures inside, so it moves along quickly and you can focus your full attention on all the details. It's a lovely little glimpse into how the Royals live now, and a fun juxtaposition to the Brittania.

Scotch Whisky Experience 

I love whisky, and whiskey, and scotch. This short tour takes you on a journey from how the whisky is made to your glass. There's a bit of reading, a short barrel ride, a video that tells you about the different regions of Scotland that produces the different flavors of whisky, a tasting room, and The Whisky Vault. 

There are over 3,000 unique, unopened bottles in the vault. This is where you will taste your whisky and learn to do it properly. If you aren't a whisky drinker, but still interested in the process, they're happy to just bring you an Irn-Bru (a local carbonated drink that smells like orange soda, but has an indescribable flavor). Eric thought it tasted like bubblegum. I did not. Four of the five of us that tried it were not that into it, but it's fun to try.

I'll be bringing you more on these and the other places I visited in Edinburgh in the four days I had to explore. We packed quite a bit in, so stay tuned, especially if Edinburgh is on your travel wish list.

Have you ever been to Scotland?

Disclaimer: The activities in this post were gifted to me by VisitScotland, but all were things I was planning to visit, and all opinions are my own.

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