Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
This is the first train station in Scotland that our train stopped at so I took a photo. The journey took about 4 hours from King's Cross. When we got to Edinburgh the temperature had dropped by about 20 degrees. Everyone had packed their coats and hats and we walked from the train station to our hotel freezing our butts off. Here's the train station in Edinburgh. I snapped the photo as we were leaving.
We stayed at another Travelodge on Queen's Street. Here's the view from our hotel room.
Rob and I immediately unpacked our warm clothes and went back out to find dinner and do some initial walking around to get the lay of the land. Compared to London, Edinburgh was way less claustrophobic. The streets were wider, there were less people, but OMG everywhere you want to go is up. It's like our hotel was built in a valley and the rest of the city was build on the side of a mountain. We just thought we walked a lot in London, this was just as much walking but all uphill. We ate at the first Indian food restaurant we came across because we were freezing and we wanted food that was hot and spicy. Plus it was right around the corner from the Travelodge. I got lamb curry and Rob got basically Pakora. It was their specialty and Rob said it was great, a lot like Tandoori chicken. Once we were sweating from the heat and spice, we were ready to go back into the cold, foggy evening and do some exploring.
There was a model village built into the street with a plaque explaining that it was designed for blind people to be able to enjoy the city.
We found the Sir Walter Scott memorial immediately because it's the tallest thing around. It basically inside the Princess Street Gardens.
Princess STreet Gardens
The Gardens surround the Scottish National Gallery and border Edinburgh Castle. We spent a long time touring the gardens and taking photos of the beautiful flowers. We walked around for quite a bit because it doesn't get dark in Edinburgh till 10pm, which is weird even for us Texans in high summer when the sun doesn't go down till 9.
Here's the National Gallery which we walked past every day, but somehow didn't actually go inside till the last day. There were always musicians busking around the building and in the back there was a stage for them to play on. The courtyard was filled with students all the time.
Here's a lovely view of the stairs we seemed to climb every single day to get to the Royal Mile and the Castle and pretty much everything else we did. That is not the Castle in the photo, that's St. Giles Cathedral. The castle is to the right of the church and up another very steep hill.
Here's a better view. That's the National Gallery at the bottom on the left.
You have to make it to the top of the steps to see that they have a name.
This is the same church now that we're at the top of the Playfair Steps. Notice how when you turn right, the road goes ever UP. That's the way to the Castle. If you go left, you're going down the Royal Mile (the high street) which connects the Castle to the Palace. It's just a mile, but it's all UP, seemingly both ways, if that's even possible. This is as far as we got the first night. After we got home (to Texas where it's mostly flat) I looked it up and found out that Edinburgh was built on 7 hills. So yes, we weren't crazy it is uphill both ways all the time.
We had been using our Google Maps app to navigate our way around London very successfully. We used the free wifi in the hotel to set our destination and then once we left the hotel, our phones would still work like a compass keeping track of where we were while guiding us to our destination. We didn't buy the international data usage for our phones but were lucky enough to figure this out while we were there. That was all well and good when we were in London because London was flat. Edinburgh, as I said before, is all uphill, all the time. Google maps does not reflect the topography of your location or destination while it's plotting your route. Old people with bad knees need to know how much up is involved in walking before they set out and, if possible, have the ability to ask for an alternate route that is not so much up. Someone who works at Google should fix this oversight immediately. As you can see Google maps is showing you that our journey from the hotel to the castle should only take 15 minutes to walk half a mile. This is a lie. The .6 miles is ALL UPHILL. They built handrails into part of the road that had a sidewalk so you could drag yourself up the incline. We had to use the handrails. By the time we got there, we were exhausted. You can see on the map that the Princess Street Gardens are right next to the Castle. In reality, the Castle is directly ABOVE the gardens by probably another half a mile. This oversight becomes much more apparent in tomorrow's blog when we eagerly set out for Arthur's Seat which is smack dab in the middle of Holyrood Park at the other end of the Royal Mile from the Castle.