36 Hours in Edinburgh - Day 1

We arrived in Edinburgh early on a Saturday morning and were greeted by blue skies and a chill in the air.  We took the public double-decker bus from the airport to the city -- great value.
We arrived before most things opened so took a walk through the Princes Street Gardens.  Gorgeous!
I especially loved this house and well maintained flower beds within the park.
I also liked these little shelters with big bold artwork inside along the path.
We walked past the National Galleries of Scotland which were inexplicably decorated with paper daisies.
We hoofed it up the Playfair Steps to Edinburgh's Old Town.
We walked past Deacon Brodie's Tavern.  The sign below caugh my eye:
Born 28th September 1741, Executed 1st October 1788
Some key tidbits from the painted scroll on the wall are worth noting here:

  • His baseness inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
  • Pious, wealthy, and respected by day, he was a gambler, thief, dissipated, and licentious by night.
  • He was hanged from the city's new gallows in 1788 which ironically he had designed.

We turned onto the Royal Mile to find some breakfast.
I stopped a moment to admire this carved crest on top of the Edinburgh City Chambers.
Edinburgh is known for its Fringe Festival in August.  We passed the local headquarters -- maybe next year we can come to visit during festival season.
We passed The Baked Potato Shop which claims to have the 'hottest tattie in town'.  Somehow that sounds a little dirty to the untrained ear.
Edinburgh is full of Wynds, Closes, Mews, and Lanes that wander off the main roads.  It can be fun to pick a few at random and try to get lost.
We had worked up an appetite by now and were excited when Always Sunday finally opened.  Their lattes were large and delicious.
We had a great view of the Royal Mile from our table near the window.
We even tried haggis...just kidding!  It was actually vegetarian haggis (the mound of stuff in the lower left next to the eggs).  I think it was made from lentils but I found the consistency to be off-putting.
After breakfast, we continued our walk along the cobbled streets of Edinburgh.  I stopped to admire this heart shape along the street.
Edinburgh seems to be enamored by the history of death in the town.  Not only did we see Deacon Brodie's execution commemorated, but we also saw the site of the last public execution in Edinburgh.
I liked many of the storefronts that we saw walking around Old Town...From AHa Ha Ha Jokes and Novelties...
...to the Beehive Inn...
...to the White Hart Inn.
We passed a restaurant that claimed to have the Best Haggis in Edinburgh...not probably the best like in Dublin...unequivocally the best.
It was still a little early in the day for a nip of whiskey but this sign promoting Scotland's signature drink caught our eye.
We walked back down the hill to New Town (not that new since it was built in the 18th century).
We admired the Edinburgh Castle and parks in the distance.  As you can tell, Edinburgh is very picturesque.
We walked along Queen Street.  I liked the texture of this well-worn street sign embedded in the foliage.
What's behind the greenery?  The park along Queen Street is three city blocks wide and one block deep.  It blew my mind when I read this sign:

Enquiries regarding key rental for the use of these Gardens should be made to the Clerk, Aitken Nairn WS 7 Abercromby Place Edinburgh

The park isn't even open to the public and was in fact locked up tight.  What a waste of green space.
Prior to visiting, Scotland struck us as a "meat and potatoes" destination.  We were surprised to find a variety of vegetarian options.  We ordered a veggie breakfast and then stumbled upon a vegetarian restaurant (Henderson's) where we grabbed a baked potato and soup for lunch.  I guess half of our stereotype was met.
Walking further, we saw "But I'm Soft Inside" written on the sidewalk.  I wonder what that means?
I liked this art installation in Gayfield Square.
We popped into McNaughtan's Bookshop which sells used and antique books.
More coffee was in order at this point so we ducked into Leo's Beanery.  I'd be a 'regular' here if I lived in Edinburgh.  The coffee was excellent, the atmosphere was warm and inviting and the staff was friendly.
We walked back to Old Town again.  The clouds against the backdrop of the park and buildings was striking.
Greyfriar's Bobby sits outside the pub of the same name.  The loyal Skye Terrier watched over his master's grave for 14 years!
A small cemetery sits in back of the pub.  It's rumored to have the most well-documented poltergeist activity in the world.  We steered clear at night -- a little too creepy for us.
The Captains Bar was one of the highlights of our visit to Edinburgh.  They play traditional Scottish music starting at 4 pm on the weekends.
The proprietors are also really knowledgeable about whisky.  We have very little experience with Scotch and asked for a recommendation to showcase the different flavor profiles.  All their shots are the same price which makes it a safe bet for sampling.  We tried two kinds -- one 'smooth' and one 'peaty'.  I could definitely taste the difference.  The 'peaty' whisky had a smoky/earthy quality.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the specific brands we tried.
We ate dinner at a comfort food restaurant called Mums.  We had steak pie which was enormous plus bangers and mash.
We popped in to for a free set at the Jazz Bar.  I have to say that I wasn't impressed--the quality of the musicians and singing was not as good as I expected.  I guess you get what you pay for.
We went to see the movie Tamara Drewe at a local cinema sitting in the shadow of the Edinburgh Castle and then caught the last set of music at the Scotsman's Lounge.  The fiddler looked like he had just rolled out of bed but the music the duo played was high energy and amazing -- traditional Scottish with an edgy rock twist.
Over 10 miles and 3 musical performances later, we finally called it a night.  You can't say we weren't making the most of our short time in Edinburgh.  Stay tuned for Day 2.

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Sidewalk Safari: 36 Hours in Edinburgh - Day 1
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