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Erin went to Edinburgh....a Trip all to myself.

I left York via train by myself for the first time every traveling alone. (Okay I took Kollin one time back to Kansas by myself, but thats an hour and change plane ride and my parents picked us up at the airport.) I never traveled abroad in college or studied overseas, and really the only reason I ended up going by myself was because I had a friend talk me into it. My personal mantra after finished yoga teacher training was "Be Fearless" and I have stuck with it, so when my friend reminded me of that I was like Oh, yeah. Seriously why not. I'm going to do it.....so I did, and it was AMAZING. It was by far the best time, and my favorite part of our entire trip!


The train from York to Edinburgh was seriously just pure excitement. I could see the countryside change as we got closer and we even followed the coast line up, so it was also incredible just to see that as well. Everything looked just like it did in TV shows and movies. 





After arriving in Edinburgh, I headed straight to my hotel (which was about a 1.3 miles from the train station) AND I WALKED the entire way with my luggage. I stayed at the Nira Caledonia and I would HIGHLY recommend it. The staff was great, the rooms were great and the food was great!


My room was on the second floor right above the open door, my only problem was that I had no idea my window was open until I took this picture....which was when I was leaving because it was the end of my trip and it got down to about 45 degrees that night! 
I booked the hotel for just myself in a one person room, and it was TINY, but it was just me, and I didn't really need that much room. 



As you can see in my bathroom, the shower and sink and toilet are all in the same tiny little square of a bathroom, and when I showered the water was everywhere, but the tiles were like a metal so it was really cool and easy to clean up! Although small, it was super functional. 


The room next to mine was being cleaned and the door was left wide open, so I snapped a pic! I mean my entire room could have come to the bedside table on the right. They had a whole seating area on the left of the picture you can even see and I can only assume their bathroom was amazing, but I told my hubby if we ever go back, we are totally getting one of these super nice rooms. 


Of course the first day I was there I wanted to go see Edinburgh Castle and it was RAINING. The hotel has umbrellas for guests to use, because I only brought a "waterproof" (that is what my cousin's girlfriend called a rain jacket and I had no idea what she was talking about when she asked me if I brought a waterproof with me...I just looked at her and said "waterproof what?" and she looked at me rolled her eyes and laughed then said in her English version of an American Accent "RAIN JACKET")


The view of Edinburgh Castle

Another mile or so from the hotel I headed up to "The Royal Mile" which is where a lot of the shops and Castle and many different old building are located. It was also SUPER hilly. 















Victoria Street - I shopped a bunch on this little street alone!
I was also starving by this point so after walking up to "The Royal Mile" I saw a sign for "The Witchery." I had seen this sign in many of the Googling I did for Edinburgh and after looking at the Scottish menu, I HAD to eat there. 
After entering and sitting down, I quickly realized it is actually a super fancy place, but I wasn't worried. I had a glass of wine and of course told the server about my dairy allergy and there was only one item on the menu that I could eat......which wasn't really a problem because that one item was one of the items I was looking at before discussing my allergy.

I also happened to hear a server scaring a few girls about the origins of "The Witchery". So.....after doing some research, it was built in the late 1500s and it is said to be haunted by the witches who were burned at the stake on Castlehill in the 16th and 17th centuries. It is also said that more witches were put to death on Castlehill during King James VI than any where else in Scotland. I'm so glad I ended up eating there, because thats just effing cool. 

Grilled asparagus with oyster hollandaise over poached duck egg and truffle shavings and a side of roasted potatoes. AMAZING. 

After finishing lunch I headed up to the Castle. 




Our tour guide said that the original castle did have guns, and then they were removed. Later on Queen Elizabeth had them put back in, however these are guns for a ship and would actual do nothing up on the castle like this. 







However, this gun is fired daily at 1pm to signal to everyone including those out at sea that it is 1pm. They had a clock tower in which a ball would drop to signal the time, but since it gets so foggy the ships couldn't see it, so they then started firing the gun. 

















This building houses the Scottish Crown Jewels. The Crown, Scepter and Sword. No one is allowed to take pictures in there, but it was a major WOW. These items dating back to the fifteenth century, quite incredible and as you walk in you realize that you are standing in a safe. 



Next the Royal Hall, the room was exquisite. You can't tell but there were two old flags in the sealed boxes. 


The other notable building in the square was the Scottish Armed Forces Memorial. Anyone who has ever fought for the Scots was written down and placed in a book in the memorial (once again no pics). It was incredible to see tourists there along with loved ones and family celebrating lives of the soldiers that had fought and died. 


I also visited the super creepy castle prison. Bleh, I was in and out of that place very quickly, the energy there just didn't seem quite right as you can imagine. Not to mention they set you up to feel that way as they play conversations from back then and even the hammocks are on motorized swings so the will randomly move. 




After the castle tour, I shopped until I dropped. Walking over 26,000 steps (11+ miles) that day and climbing roughly 126 flights of stairs, along with 3 phone calls from the credit card company...whoopsies. I even had to purchase another suitcase from one of the local department stores because there was NO WAY all that stuff would have made it back without another bag....perks of being by yourself. 

I didn't want to eat at the hotel restaurant originally. I wanted to eat in the heart of Edinburgh, but as you can imagine I was exhausted and hungry. And, not surprisingly the food was INCREDIBLE, and they were very helpful with my allergy.

I also met two nice older ladies that were staying at the hotel and were from Houston, HOW CRAZY IS THAT! One of them was a big world traveler and it was funny because they both just couldn't believe I left my family behind to have some time to myself...um WTF are you guys doing then?!?! The same. The exact same.

Scottish Beef Carpaccio with arugula and a mustard sauce
As you can tell here I clearly ate Lobster, but I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of the before....obviously it was yummy. And, if you will notice my wine happens to be a little fuller in the pic, once again...whoopsies, I should have just ordered a bottle that night. 

The next day I was set on visiting the other palace located in Edinburgh. I had a massive vegetarian Scottish breakfast and some tea of course. 

I set out on my goal of visiting the palace and Arthur's Seat. It was a 1.7 mile walking journey to the palace and it was so worth every minute! 
Picture from my walk...Edinburgh Waverley (the train station) 

On my way there I noticed an old cemetery looking up to Arthur's Seat, and I was anxious to find that cemetery! I don't know why I am obsessed with old cemeteries, but I am. My husband thinks its creepy, but I think its so cool.



Palace of Holyrood, which is still a working castle and houses the Queen on her summer vacations to Edinburgh.... I mean it was AWESOME. 



On the left of the picture you can tell that wing looks different than the portion on the right. It is the oldest part of the palace which connected to the Abbey on the back. 





As you entered, through the wall, you came into the most beautiful courtyard. 





And thats for all of the pictures of the palace. Once inside no photography is allowed since it is all original artifacts from the castle and it is still a working castle. I saw the dining room, many sitting rooms, the original King's dressing room and bedroom along with Mary, Queen of Scots, room and dressing room. Kyle made fun of me because I did try to listen during the audio tours, but I was more focused on how I felt and the energy given off in each room at the abbeys and castles. 

Once I stepped into Mary, Queen of Scots dressing room/ bedchamber area, I was uncomfortable, almost like I wasn't welcome. Off to the right in her room is a little sitting area, kinda like a modern day office, it wasn't blocked off but I just couldn't bring myself to walk into it for some reason...well after listening to my guided audio tour it turns out that is where her second husband held a gun to her 6 month pregnant belly and dragged her "private secretary/friend" (who her second husband thought she was having an affair with) and stabbed him 50 plus times in the stairway past her bedchamber. Needless to say that is freaking nuts. 

As I kept walking throughout the tour we also got to tour the Grand Hall where the current Queen does her knighting ceremonies and saw her robs and such. This hall was filled with portraits of Scottish Royals throughout the years, floor to ceiling and wall to wall of painted portraits. The portraits were partially destroyed by the British and they had all of the portraits restored and in some of the paintings you can tell where the pictures where cut. 

As you left the portion of the palace you could tour, you headed out to Holyrood Abbey. Just like the abbey in Yorkshire, this was built in the 1100s, however this one lasted well into the 1600s. 















Palace of Holyrood Gardens....all I can say is that it was the most lush green you have ever seen in your entire life. 










After visiting the gift shop and talking myself out of buying every piece of china you could purchase, because mostly why the hell do I think I need that. I headed out to hike up to Arthur's Seat. 



The hike up was gorgeous. I couldn't get over the landscape and the feeling that Kyle should have been there because he would have loved it, but he wasn't and it was an experience I will never forget. 












Once I made it to the top, it was a 360 view and a mesh of amazing natural coloring. 







I headed back to the hotel to realize I still needed to cut through that cemetery, and it was weird because the one I cut through it turns out, many people use as a short cut for getting around.

The earliest grave was from the late 1700s



Many of the graves were enclosed in these tomb like buildings, which I dared not walk in. 





Some of the tombstones had even fallen over, which was kinda sad. But at the same time it was super interesting to see these massive tombstones with writing because each of them was like their little own obituary. It gave their age, family name and how they died. 


I'm not sure how I felt about this one, other than the fact I was trying to wrap my head around a tree growing through the stone and breaking it into two pieces. 


I grabbed all my stuff and headed back to the train station to make my way from Edinburgh to London to meet back up with Kyle and of course I missed lunch, because people in the UK don't eat a late lunch. So, I figured a pub would suffice until it was close to train time. I was talking to the local bartenders, who had to repeat every other word because they talk SO FAST, but one of them was trying to get me to try their local soda, IRN BRU. There is no way to describe it other than it is 38% of your daily sugar intake for the day and its a cross between orange Fanta and a sweet Mountain Dew. I could only drink about 4 small sips.  

It was also funny to talk to the local bartenders about the castle and palace, places they have never been. But, its the same as me...I've never been to Washington DC or any major national governmental monument, and that is sad. But I feel like this could be a once in a lifetime experience and I just had to do it. 

My journey to Edinburgh is something I will never forget, although I am sad Kyle couldn't accompany me, it is something that I will always have and it will always be my own thing that I did. I never felt unsafe, unwanted or like an outsider. 

If we get to go again, I am definitely heading more north Scotland and visiting Loch Ness and the Highlands, the only thing I'm worried about is the thicker accents. 

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