Edinburgh and the Lothians

I landed at Edinburgh Airport on Thursday, July 18th. Within an hour I had settled into my room in an old building near Haymarket Station. The next week was spent walking the streets of this beautiful city and discovering its history, architecture, monuments, museums and attractions.

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While I shall not recount all that I saw and did, what is worth mentioning is that Edinburgh is city that reminded me a lot of Quebec City: both were built out of stone around a fortified summit, both were taken over by a foreign crown, both have a parliament with political parties that want to form a new country, both are Unesco heritage sites, both are very popular with tourists and both cities are subject to harsh weather.

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The highlights of the my Edinburgh stay included seeing the Crown of Scotland (no pictures allowed), going to Craigmillar Castle, Holyrood Palace and Rosslyn Chapel, walking the Royal Mile and touring the Scottish Parliament. With a week of glorious weather to take advantage of, I took plenty of photographs of the Athens of the North.

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For entertainment, I indulged in some rather silly ghost tour, great folk music and bar hopping. The city is very much alive with music: from street performers near St Giles Cathedral to legions of bagpipers of unequal skill, the best music to be enjoyed are the folk sessions at Sandy Bells. Just ignore the rather cranky gentleman at the end of the bar and you’ll be fine, unless you’re an attractive young woman, in which case you’ll have to put up with his somewhat effective charm offensive. Did I mention one of the city’s bagpipers has an instrument that includes some sort of flame throwing device?

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Edinburgh is also a great hub for day trips to places like St Andrews, Dundee, Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond or even Glasgow for that matter. The train network of Britain being one of the best in the world, you can easily plan your trip around Scotland without having to drive on the left side of the road.

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