My Favorite Destinations…Edinburgh

by Diana Hechler

(September 19, 2003) Bonnie lads and lasses, there's a beautiful country awaitin' ye in Scotland. And lest you think it's just a part of England, you'll be makin' a grrrrave mistake.

Head for the capital, Edinburgh, and make your way to the castle. You can't miss it; look up and you can see it from just about anywhere. Dominating the city from its perch high above, Edinburgh Castle was indeed impregnable and throughout its colorful history was never taken by force – only by treachery. (It’s a good story, trust me.)

If you can, plan your visit during the three weeks in August that the Military Tattoo takes place. Pipes, drums, dancers, and military bands from the far reaches of the commonwealth come to show off, all set against the background of the torch-lit castle. Just the view of the castle at night is worth the price of admission. You might even catch the motorcycle drill team, too!

You'll want to walk down the Royal Mile from the castle towards Holyrood Palace. The cobble-stoned route is chock-full of every schlocky tourist store imaginable. If you’ve ever fancied yourself in a kilt or you feel that you must have an Aran sweater, you’ve come to the right place. Somehow, in spite of all the commerce, you will still sense the medieval city here. In August, the Edinburgh Festival adds street performers of all caliber, crowds and lots of fun to the mix.
For a respite from Mary Queen of Scots and James I (believe me, you'll hear a LOT about them), stroll the lovely blocks of the new city, parallel to Princes Street. Trendy restaurants, art galleries and shops abound in and around the impressive Georgian architecture. Don't forget to make a field trip to Stirling Castle, 30 miles north. Whoever controlled Stirling Castle controlled Scotland; you'll see why once you're atop the battlements.

From there, you can't miss the Mel Gibson...Excuse me, I mean the William Wallace Monument… on an adjacent hilltop. Make the climb and ask the costumed soldier about the Battle of Stirling Bridge. He just might throw in the tale of Robert the Bruce and nearby Bannockburn, too.

Edinburgh is just the beginning of Scotland. The mountains and lakes (lochs) go on forever, often under gray and forbidding skies, other times bathed in a brilliant sunshine. This is the land of Campbells and MacDonalds, the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, the birthplace of poet Robert Burns. Try to get up to Inverness and the Highlands as well. Ask me about the Highland Games, held in July and August every year. Kilts, pipers, dancers, and more kilts!

Did I mention the sheep? You’ve never seen so many sheep. Lots and lots of sheep.

For the Kids: The Edinburgh Dungeon, near Waverly train station, is full of gore, blood, and torture, tinged with humor. The children will love it.


Diana M. Hechler, D. Tours Travel

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