After leaving Iceland, we headed to the United Kingdom with no real set plan. The two of us spent our first few days exploring London but had 4 nights to spare in our itinerary. A trip out to West Country to see Stonehenge and visit Cornwall was an option, as was heading to Northwest England to check out Chester and Liverpool.
“How about a road trip up through Scotland?” Amy remarked.
We quickly rushed together a plan for 4 nights in Scotland and booked an overnight Megabus from London to Edinburgh. This sounded like a great idea at the time – a 10-hour ride would save us having to pay for a night’s accommodation (we could get some sleep on board) and the bus would most likely be empty. After all, it is November and surely people would prefer to travel during the daylight hours?
Boy, were we wrong! There wasn’t a spare seat on the bus and we had to deal with obnoxious passengers who thought it would be completely fine to speak on their phone for an hour or two in the wee hours of the morning. One of those passengers also used the chair in front as a hand wipe after eating potato chips – but more about bus etiquette later!
After 10 painful hours, we finally arrived at the St. Andrews Square Bus Station in Edinburgh at 8AM and proceeded to walk 2 miles to our hotel (it looked a lot closer on the map!). Fortunately things started going right for us from there – we were able to check-in early and it was a beautiful sunny day outside (apparently that’s rare in Edinburgh?).
With only a day to explore Edinburgh, we signed up for Sandeman’s Free Walking Tour of Edinburgh so that we could see all the sights of the Old City of Edinburgh and cover the Royal Mile. We nearly didn’t make it on the tour after helping a lost old lady find her home but luckily the two of us managed to arrive at the meeting point just in time to greet our tour guide James.
Our walking tour was filled with interesting stories about Edinburgh’s dark past and included many Harry Potter landmarks (for those readers who are fans) such as Elephant House, the birthplace of the series of novels. But the major highlight, as you would expect, was a view of the famous Edinburgh Castle which dominates the skyline of the city.
We also got to see the gravesite of Greyfriars Bobby and his tribute statue. For those of you who don’t know about Bobby, Greyfriars Bobby was a Skye Terrier who spent 14 years guarding the grave of his master before he died himself. Quite the touching story!
After our 3 hour walking tour wrapped up, we had one final mission for the day before we headed back to the hotel – to get a photo with a Scottish man in a traditional kilt.
This proved easier than we thought with a street performer playing his bagpipes outside of Edinburgh Waverley railway station. Brilliant!
We headed back to our hotel exhausted but content – both of us had a fabulous afternoon exploring Edinburgh and really wish we could have spent a few days in this captivating city.
But time is scarce and tomorrow we pick up our car and drive into the Highlands!
Flickr Photo: Steven’s Transport Photos