As soon as my eyes opened I pinged awake right away even without a coffee. That never happens.
I’m super excited because we’re heading to Edinburgh Castle today! I mean it’s not every day you can wander down the street to visit a castle after breakfast. As you can probably imagine, I was super stoked.
We got ready, had a quick
English Scottish breakfast, packed our luggage and checked out of the hotel since we’re leaving later today. The guy at the front desk happily offered to hold our luggage for the afternoon as the hotel is right across the street from the train station. We couldn’t have asked for nicer hotel staff, and a more convenient location either.
With full bellies and free of luggage, we were on our way to the Castle at the top of the Royal Mile, where we toured yesterday.
You definitely don’t need a map or an address to find this place. Perched up high on the hill overlooking the city, you couldn’t miss it if you tried.
As we approached the castle grounds I was giddy with excitement. The view from below as you’re walking up toward the castle is absolutely incredible.
As we climbed higher onto the grounds we realized why someone–many moons ago–decided this spot would probably make a good defensive position to build a castle.
We headed toward the main entrance of Edinburgh Castle and noticed that there are loads of other tourists here already. But it wasn’t insanely busy yet, thankfully. We did notice the tour buses were just starting to arrive so we decided to stop gawking at the castle from the outside and make our way through the entrance to beat the rush.
We got our tickets for the tour and wandered around checking out the grounds while we waited. As we walked around I was in complete awe of this spectacular place, especially knowing how much this castle is steeped in history. Just amazing…
One of the first things we learned on our tour is that the castle sits on an extinct volcano! Oh YES, I did say volcano. Thankfully it’s an extinct one– so we should be safe (if not, this will be an even more exciting castle tour-if that’s even possible. ha ha).
If I wasn’t already excited enough to be here, the fact that I was also standing on a volcano just bumped that excitement level up a notch or two (okay, maybe tenfold). But I am a bit of a geology nerd so I may be a wee bit happier about this than the average tourist… it’s hard to say.
While I was expecting plenty of serene and beautiful, rugged landscapes in Scotland, I certainly didn’t have volcanoes on my sightseeing list. Who knew this area even had volcanoes? This area here in Edinburgh used to be the site of a very violent–and active- volcano, too!
The bunch of rocks (the plug of the volcano) that the Castle sits on is called Castle Rock, not too surprisingly. They rocks are roughly 340 million years old. Now that for some pretty rockin’ history! (hee hee).
I loved the intricate design of the buildings and the attention to detail. As I mentioned several times in my other stories in Scotland, we felt like we had hopped into a time machine and arrived in Edinburgh a hundred or so years ago.
At this castle, I think we’d set the Delorean (our favourite type of time machine) for 1300AD. As we walked around all the buildings of the castle, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to believe we had actually gone back that many centuries ago.
Until, of course, you look around to see tourists playing with their smart phones (at a castle? craziness!) and folks wearing fancy Nike basketball shoes, which sort of pulled us back to the present day rather quickly.
The view from atop of the castle was beyond spectacular. We could see the entire city sprawled out beneath us, making us realize how high up we’d actually climbed.
And man was it ever windy up here! It was quite a bit colder being this high up, and the clouds were blocking the sun so that didn’t help.
I’m just glad I didn’t spend too much time styling my hair this morning because it would have been pointless. Ok, if you know me you’re probably laughing as you read this since you know that I never really spend any time styling my hair (he he).
I think this tops the list of my craziest hair pictures ever. You probably can’t tell it’s windy up here whatsoever!
We then realized it was shortly after noon so we made our way toward the Argyll Battery so we could check out the famous One o’Clock Gun.
Every day at 13:00 hours, a gun is fired and tourists gather ’round to hear its roar. This long-time tradition started here at the Castle in 1861. Back in those days–long before wristwatches (and now, cellphones) became mainstream–the sound of the gun allowed ships to check their chronometers to ensure they had the accurate time.
The gun is fired at the same time as the Time-Ball, a large white ball which rises up and then drops down a pole on Calton Hill. It was pretty neat to see/hear, and everyone clapped afterward as it was quite exciting to experience.
After the firing of the gun, we ended up chatting with a military guy (who volunteers at the castle) for quite awhile. He had lots of interesting stories and was a very friendly, interesting charachter. Plus it was nice to have a good, long conversation with a local too!
Before heading out, we wanted to check out the last part of the castle: St Margaret’s Chapel. This is the oldest surviving building in Edinburgh. Built in the 12th century, this little chapel is an example of Romanesque architecture.
It was getting a bit crowded when we were there as it’s a tiny building, but we managed to pop in quickly in between groups to take a peak inside and snap a couple photos.
We chatted with a few other tourists while we looked out at the view from atop the castle.
We took each others photos and then started to make our way towards the exit as we’re heading back to London today (our flight for Canada leaves tomorrow morning).
If you’re in Edinburgh it probably goes without saying that you should definitely put the castle on the top of your list. It’s a beautiful, historic spot and definitely worth even a short tour if you’re like us and you’re not here for long.
One of the biggest highlights of travel for me (besides the food) is learning about the history and geology of the places I’m in—in addition to the culture. With a castle AND a volcano in the same spot, I got it in spades here! Just awesome.
Thanks for reading! Have you been to Edinburgh? What was your favourite part of the city? I’d love to hear about your adventures too!