MESSAGE: Edinburgh *Video*
Edinburgh is divided into old and new. The old city dates from 1124 and is really well preserved. The castle dominates the skyline, sitting atop a granite outcrop. From here the city’s High Street creates a cobble-stoned spine, with steep slopes on either side. The streets are lined with businesses and houses that are excellent examples of medieval architecture.
Here’re my 7 insider notes on how to enjoy the Scottish capital of Edinburgh:
MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – Old Sheep’s Heid. This pub is located in the on the edge of the Royal Park, next to Holyrood Palace, the royal residence in Scotland. The pub has been around since 1360, making it the oldest bar in Scotland!
EAT (Tasty Eats) – Scotch Whiskey. Before I left San Francisco, whiskey bars were become extremely fashionable. We go in and taste several glasses, noting the earthy vs. honey vs. grassy undertones.
Several factors distinguish Scotch whiskey from other whiskeys. First, Scotch is generally distilled twice (not 3 times). Second, peat fires are often used to create Scotch’s distinctive smoky flavors.
If you enjoy Scotch, you might want check out the movie Angel’s Share. The flick is about developing an appreciation for the drink. It’s a cute movie, although it stands on suspect moral ground. Here’s the trailer: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1924394/
SEE (Must-see Sights) – Edinburgh Castle. Built in the 12th century, Edinburgh Castle contains a palace, the Scottish Crown Jewels, and St. Margret’s Chapel, still open today for weddings for those in the military. It also houses several military museums and honors those Scots who have died during war.
Here’s a quick taste of the interior of the castle:
Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Edinburgh Castle
SHOP (Gotta Have) – Charity Shops. All of the UK, but especially Edinburgh, is inundated with charity shops – which is a good thing! These shops are run by nonprofit organizations that sell donated items and are staffed by volunteers. They’re great money makers for the orgs.
Oxfam has the largest network with 700 shops. Save the Children, Age UK, Cancer Research UK and YMCA also have an extensive network of shops. I patronized quite a few as I bought my raingear!
ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – Climb Arthur’s Seat at Sunset. Arthur’s Seat is a hill on the perimeter of Edinburgh that stands 250 meters (822 ft). I hustled up one evening just before sunset and was rewarded with a lovely view of the cityscape.
From this vantage point, it’s easy to see just how green the city of Edinburgh is, surrounded by bright yellow gross-covered hills and an abundance of tree-lined streets and parks. So pretty when the sun peeks through!
GIVE (Greatest Need) – Nature Deficit Disorder. UK government studies are showing a dramatic decline in children’s relationship the outdoors. They fear a whole generation is losing touch with the natural world and are calling it a “Nature Deficit Disorder.”
Today’s British children have less of an opportunity to get outdoors. As a result:
- <10% of kids play in wild places. Down from 50% less than a generation ago.
- Roaming radius of children has declined by 90% in one generation (30 years)
- 50% of children have stopped climbing trees. (In fact a kid is 3 times more likely to fall out of bed, than to fall out of a tree.)
The National Trust is calling for urgent action and it trying to institute programs that will capture children’s interest in the outdoors before enter teenage years. They believe early exposure to the wilderness will help build a lifelong passion for nature and the outdoors.
ENJOY (Extra Fun) – How the People Lived. Edinburgh has 2 museums that give an inside look on how past generations lived. First, the Georgian House gives us a peek at the life of Edinburgh’s aristocracy. It has a film that is well done and a Georgian-period home filled with furniture of the day. The kitchen was especially cool to see.
The second sociological peek is the People’s Museum, which tells of the lives of ordinary folks like fishmongers and shopkeepers and blacksmiths. It’s a little more hokey, but still an interesting way to spend a hour while trooping through the old city.