Alexander McCall Smith wrote that Edinburgh is ‘a city of shifting lights, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.’

After the stressful January exam period, I decided to embark on a four day city break to the Scottish capital. Our first stop had to be Edinburgh Castle. The site of the Castle has been inhabited since the 9th century, and today it is visited by 1.3 million people each year; though the royal family have not resided there since the Union of the Crowns in 1603. Today, the Castle comes alive during the spectacular annual Military Tattoo every August, which showcases the pipes and drums of the Scottish regiments. The One O’Clock Gun is a ritual which is still performed today where a ‘Time Gun’ is fired at exactly 13:00 on every day of the year, (except Christmas Day and Good Friday) as a signal for ships in the Firth of Forth.

As you glide down the Royal Mile, you are greeted with a wealth of shops selling bagpipes and every variation of tartan imaginable. You can even buy a deep fried Mars bar if you know where to look. Despite its unsubtle commercial manipulation, the most famous road in Scotland still maintains an extraordinary charm which is unparalleled anywhere else in Britain; it really is a magical place.

I would recommend taking a trip to the Elephant House Café in the centre of town. It happens to be the very Café where J. K. Rowling wrote many of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, and needless to say has since been frequented by many famous contemporary writers.

I would recommend taking a trip to the Elephant House Café in the centre of town. It happens to be the very Café where J. K. Rowling wrote many of the ‘Harry Potter’ books, and needless to say has since been frequented by many famous contemporary writers.

Possibly one of the more alternative attractions of the city is the Camera Obscura. Situated just off the Royal Mile, the Camera Obscura is a treasure chest of optical illusions, mind games and hosts an extraordinary telescope which has given tourists some unique views of the city since Victorian times. I left feeling rather dizzy but for those who enjoy mind boggling activities, this is for you.

The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, has recently announced that the Scottish Referendum will take place on 14th September 2014, and he will no doubt announce the result from inside the Holyrood Parliament Building. It is situated at the bottom of the Royal Mile, which is between two of Britain’s most important buildings: Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace. We visited both the Palace and the Parliament building, but architecturally wise, they are poles apart. Whereas the Palace is elegant and graceful, the Parliament building is garish, and although it has won many awards from critics, it feels inappropriate in its setting and devoid of much character.

It may come as no surprise that we loved this city, so much that we’ve already booked our next trip. If you’ve got a long weekend to spare over the summer, particularly during the world-famous Fringe Festival which takes place every August, why not go?

Jacques Domican-Bird

Photo courtesy of Roel Wijnants

 

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1 Comment

  1. April 9, 2013 at 14:11 — Reply

    Easily my favourite city in the UK. Went back for Hogmanay this year and it was incredible.

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