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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Royal Activities in Edinburgh

Last month Eric and I were in Edinburgh to attend a family wedding, and while two days were taken up by wedding activities, we also packed our other four days with sightseeing and awesomeness, helped by the lovely people of Visit Scotland. 

Edinburgh, and really all of Scotland, is steeped in history and the memory of royalty long gone. We had limited time, but I'd love to go back and see more of the country. Even so, the history in the country's capitol is enough to keep you busy for even longer than I was there. 

Edinburgh Castle

Practically everywhere you go, you have a view of Edinburgh Castle up on the hill. Strap on your walking shoes to make it up the hill, and then to walk up and down a ton of stairs and steep walkways. The "hike" is totally worth it though, because there is so much to see on the castle grounds, including the dungeons, the Coronation Jewels, the Great Hall (shown above), and a chapel that's what's left of the oldest building on the castle grounds.

Though the castle isn't used as a home for royals and hasn't for many centuries, the British Army still occupies some of the buildings. With so much to see and learn, it's hard to catch everything, but your ticket comes with an audio guide included to take you through the grounds and tell you more about them in a structured manner. 

Don't forget to just stop and look around though, because there are so many beautiful things on the grounds, from the view to just the manicured lawns. Everything is gorgeous and when you think about how long the buildings have stood, it makes it even more amazing. One of my favorite things, aside from this view above that mixes stone and flowers, is St. Margaret's Chapel. It's a tiny little thing, with perfect little stained glass windows, where people still get married, and I can totally see why. I'm not a religious person, but if I was, I'd have aspired to have my wedding in that chapel, that might fit a dozen people comfortably. The pictures alone would have been worth it.

I also adored the Great Hall, a huge open room full of armor, weapons, chandeliers, and a huge fireplace that you could stand in (but you can't, because they probably expect people like me to try). There are several gift shops on the grounds and a cafe with tasty looking treats. Check out the view from the castle walls, where you can look out over the city and the water. It's breathtaking, and not just because it was super windy when we were visiting. 

Royal Yacht Brittania

Do you ever wonder how the Royals travel and where they go? Well, they used to travel on their own yacht, visiting a new place every day, hosting dignitaries, playing deck hockey, and exploring the world as a family in luxury. The ship has five decks and you can view the main dining room the sitting rooms, the Queen's bedroom and Philip's bedroom, the china and silverware rooms, and more. The ship sailed for more than 40 years, spreading commonwealth, and clocking over a million miles. 

Though the Royals were traveling and enjoying new places, they also worked onboard. The Queen kept a very rigorous schedule down to waking up, taking tea, being with family, answering correspondence and any work that needed to be done for the day.  

The yacht is full of original furnishing, dinnerware, gifts from countries they visited, and artwork. The family spent honeymoons onboard and even Christmases. Before you board, you can view uniforms, a timeline, and the original paddle the Queen used to stir the Christmas pudding. I loved the picture of her actually using it as Philip appears to pour an entire jug of booze into it.

Since the ship was built in the 50s, it's fully furnished in mid-century furniture, which I adored. There's even a tea room on one of the upper decks where you can grab a cuppa and a snack. We all enjoyed some tea and scones for breakfast (cheese scones are delicious) in the middle of our tour. After 11:30am you can order more substantial foods for lunch.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Queen Elizabeth is an entertainer. She has been for almost her entire life, and one can't spend their entire life in Buckingham Palace, though the rest of us probably wouldn't mind. When the Queen visits Edinburgh, she stays at Holyroodhouse and entertains visitors and guests. The Royal Family feels very at home at this palace, even though it's much smaller than what you'd expect from a royal residence. 

Once inside, you're not allowed to take pictures, but the residence is full of gorgeous paintings and frescoes and plaster ceilings. The furniture is lavish, but also looks very comfortable. Your audio guide takes you through each room and interviews with members of the Royal Family, including Prince Charles, you tell you that of their many residences, Holyroodhouse may be over the top and gorgeous, but the size makes it feel like a home and everyone always feels comfortable there and enjoys spending time there in ways you wouldn't expect from a palace

Holyroodhouse was home to Mary Queen of Scots, and you can view her apartments here, and learn about a murder that occurred there, standing in the spot the body was found. The palace has abbey church ruins attached to it and, beyond that, a huge garden where Queen Elizabeth hosts a big party every July. It's a wonderful stroll to finish out your tour of the home. 

The Palace at Holyroodhouse was one of my favorite landmarks in Edinburgh. It was so easy to get lost in the palace without getting overwhelmed. Each room was interesting in its own way and I loved how engaging the audio was. 

Stay tuned for more gems from my trip. Next up will be Museums! 

Do you have a favorite Royal building from your travels?

Disclaimer: My admission to these three attractions were complimentary of Visit Scotland, but all opinions are my own, and I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to work with them on this whirlwind trip.

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