A red bus, castle, and haggis

Anglotopia Day 4 – Edinburgh

For this post, I am mostly going to share photographs from our day taking the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus around Edinburgh. I generally frowned on these sort of expensive tourist traps, but to be honest, they are a great way to see a city in a short period of time, to orient yourself in a new place, and to hear historical and cultural commentary in several different languages.

Since it was a beautiful blue-skied day – I am convinced that ‘Scotland blue’ needs to be its own color – we first visited Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile, seeing the set-up for the Edinburgh Tattoo going on outside the castle. The watchful eyes of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace looked down from outside of the castle walls.

Now, go aey-way before I taunt you a se-cund time!

The castle made for an interesting visit – and the vistas of Edinburgh and down to the Firth of Forth (say that ten times fast after a few pints!) were stunning. The Scottish Crown Jewels, which are understatedly lovely even if the English Crown Jewels are massive and more celebrated, were housed here, and the Stone of Scone (known as “skun”, phonetically, I believe), used for royal coronations, was also in place. Collectively, the pieces are known as the Honours of Scotland. It will next be returned to Westminster Abbey when Prince Charles is crowned.

After the castle, we jumped on the open-top part of the bus and rode it around town a few times, listening to the entertaining commentary. There are even Horrible Histories for children – and honestly, I enjoyed these a great deal.

Anything to get kids interested in history is fine in my book.

When we found a mirror, to our surprise, we were sunburned! To be honest, I did not think the sun strong enough to burn us, but a clear day and hours outside seemed to debunk that thought!

Travel Tip #5 – Edinburgh Castle (and Stirling Castle) offer a Scottish Heritage discounted ticket. If you plan on visiting both castles, the ticket is worth the price, as you’ll end up saving money. The list of homes and castles you can use the heritage ticket for is quite long, and we used it at Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, the castle in St. Andrews, and I believe, at least one other place near St. Andrews. Overall, when you consider the admissions in several major castles and some small ones along the way, it’s not a bad deal at all. Besides, you can then skip longer queues and spend more time inside!

For dinner, it was pub-time, and I had one request: I wanted to try haggis. Since I wasn’t ready to go all hardcore haggis (or try haggis … in a can?!), I compromised with a fried haggis ball appetizer.

To be completely honest, the haggis tasted a bit like meat gravy. Overall, not bad, but not a starter I would order all the time if, say, onion rings were on offer, too.

Goodness, gracious, great balls of HAGGIS!

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