Weekend trip to the Scottish capital pt2

Places I visited in Edinburgh

A gorgeous palace and medievel abbey

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jipp05 on May 29, 2011

The Royal Palace of Holyrood is the Queen's official residence when she is in the Scottish Capital and is located right at the bottom of the Royal Mile so makes a great place to finish your tour of the Royal Miles attractions. It is located near to the Scottish parlament building and also the Dynamic Earth exhibition so you can do all these sights in an aternoon.

I am a huge fan of historic buildings so I was in my element in Edinburgh and the Holyrood Palace was certainly striking and absolutley beautiful.
As part of the Edinburgh pass we had free entry to the Queens Gallery which is located at Holyrood and if you are a fan of classic paintings then this is definately worth seeing. The actual Palace wasn't included in the pass so we had to pay for this and it cost £10.50 each. There is a combined ticket to the Palace and the Queens Gallery and this costs £14.85.

Included in the price of entry was an audio guide which I highly recommend you take so that you can get the most out of your visit. The guide is fascinating and told me so many things about the history of the Palace that I was unfamiliar with previously.
The inside is just as lavish as you might expect and the tapestries and artwork on the walls are better and more impressive than most museums.

The Royal apartments were especially interesting and it was strange to think this is where the Queen stays when in town. For me the best part of the tour was seeing the apartments of Mary Queen of Scots and hearing some interesting tidbits about her from the audio guide as she has always been a figure of interest for me.

The tour around the Palace isn't really all that long but there is so much to see that you will want at least an hour to take it all in.
Although the Palace is absolutely stunning and has some beautiful furniture and art work I was slightly disapointed just in the fact that everything is so pristine that I couldn't really get a feel for the history of the Palace and that's a shame when the history is as interesting as Holyrood's.

My favourie part of the tour of Holyrood was actually outside the Palace and in the gardens. They were stunning but they also contain the ruins of the Holyrood Abbey which dates back to 1128. The sense of history that I was missing from inside certainly wasn't lacking here and it has such a magical feeling to it that you can actually picture just how everything must have looked hundreds of years ago.

For me Holyrood Palace was well worth visiting. It might not be as big as some of the other European Palaces but that certainly doesn't make it any less impressive and in fact it actually outshines a lot of them.
For any people who love history and anythign to do with the royals then Holyrood is an absolute must see in Edinburgh and in a city teeming with history Holyrrood has some of the most interesting.
Holyrood Palace/Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Royal Mile
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH8 8DX
+44 (131) 556 5100

Ghouls and Ghosts

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by jipp05 on May 29, 2011

The Edinburgh dungeon is a spin off of the other dungeons which already exist in other parts of the UK as well as in Amsterdam and Hamburg, Germany.
They are suppose to be educational as well as fun exploring the dark and sometimes macarbe history of the cities in which they are found but after visiting a couple of the dungeon in different locations I went to the Edinburgh one expecting it to be a little tacky, fun but certainly not scary and that is exactly what I got.

The dungeons aren't real dungeons obviously but are instead recreations of ghoulish parts of history. They are designed to be interactive and the staff dress up as ghosts and historical figures and leap out at you to give you a fright. For a bunch of adults that should know better my group were jumping along with the children and thouraghly enjoying it.

You start off by getting your picture taken with your head in some stocks and then it's off to the courts where there is a judge who might even accuse you of some horrible crime.
There are some exhibits on the great fire of Edinburgh that swept through the old town and the autopsy room was a real highlight with an interactive show. It is a shame to spoil too much of what happens inside the dungeon as a lot of the fun is in the element of surprise but do not be surprised if you are pulled out of the audience to participate so if you are the sort of person who wouldn't enjoy that make sure not to stand near the front.

Even though the dungeons are fun you will also learn a lot about the dark history of the city but it's told in such an entertaining way that it doesn't feel like you are being forced to learn something.
One thing about the dungeon is that it's not for people who are claustrophobic as it can get pretty cramped in there and with the darkness it can feel even smaller.

There is also a so called ride in the dungeon called the Extremis which lifts you up and then drops you back down. Think of this as an extra to the dungeon and not a real fairground ride as otherwise you will end up being very disapointed.

I really enjoyed myself at the Edinburgh dungeon. It was so much fun but it's not scary and instead of coming out scared I came out with a huge smile on my face instead. I think younger kids would absolutely love it and although they may get a little scared I am sure they will enjoy it so long as you explain to them that it isn't real.

The Edinburgh dungeon is pretty easy to find and is very near to waverly train station and the old town and is well signposted so you should have no trouble finding it.
It is pretty expensive to visit at £16.50 for an adult ticket and £12.00 for a child but it takes a couple of hours to go around the dungeon and for the sheer enjoyment I have to say that I thought it was worth the price.
Edinburgh Dungeon
31 Market Street
Edinburgh, Scotland
+44 131 240 1000

Every brick tells a story

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jipp05 on December 24, 2010

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a must see for any visitor to the city. This 1.1 mile long street has so much history and sites packed into it that it can easily take a whole day or even longer to explore.
The Royal Mile starts at Edinburgh Castle at the top all the way down to Hollyrood Palace at the bottom and is a fascinating look back into how this ancient city looked back in medieval times.

Of course the most logical place to start the Mile is with Edinburgh Castle. this majestic castle has so much to see so make sure that you start early so that you leave yourself enough time to do it all.
Once you have finished at the castle you can then start to wander down the mile stopping at places that take your fancy along the way.

There are so many sites to see that you will be spoilt for choice. You can visit the camera obscura which is a fascinating example of victorian science and is actually a really interesting fun place for young and old alike to spend a couple of hours.
There is John Knox house which is now a museum and dates from the 15th centuary. This is just one of many museums you can visit but the whole mile is practically a museum in it's own right as there is so much history and character all around you.

There are usually street performers you can stop and watch and when you start to get a little weary there are plenty of cafes and pubs where you can get a whiskey or something to eat.
There is also ample opportunity to do a little shopping but most of the shops are catered towards the tourist although you can get some good tartan items.

Make sure to find the statue of greyfriars Bobby and for those that don't know the story make sure you find out about it.
Right at the bottom is the dynamic eath exhibit which is a fascinating loo back through time to how the Earth was formed and actually makes science fun and interesitng especially for young children.
The new parliment building is also worth a look at just to compare the contrasting style of the ancient Royal Mile to the ultra modern parlimen building.
Finally at the bottom you can visit Hollyrood palace which is spectacular and well worth visiting as it houses some beautiful art works.

The Royal Mile may be an ancient street but it is still full of life and one of the best preserved medieval streets in the whole world and should definately be at the top of the list to any visitor to the city.
Royal Mile
Main Thoroughfare of Old Town
Edinburgh, Scotland

A small statue for a dog with a big heart

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jipp05 on March 23, 2011

I remembering watching the film of Greyfriars Bobby when I was a child and it really affected me and when visiting Edinburgh I wanted to make sure that I visited the momument that was erected in his memory.
To all those people who have no idea just who Greyfriars Bobby was he was a Skye terrier who after his owner died in the 1800's spend 14 years guarding his grave until his death and became a well known legend throughout Edinburgh and later all over the world.

The story of Greyfriars Bobby has always really touched me and the history of the story is both moving and a little unbelievable but I choose to believe in it as the story is so nice.
Apparently Bobby belonged to a man named John Grey who was a night city watchman and had owned Bobby for two years before his death. During this time the two of them were inseparable from each other. When John died he was buried in the grounds of the Greyfriars Kirk in the old town. The story goes that Bobby spend his remaining 14 years of life sitting by his masters grave and even though people tried to claim him he refused to leave the graveside only surviving on the kindness of the locals bringing him food.

He was then buried just inside the gate of the graveyard as close to his masters grave as was allowed.
The staute of Bobby was erected only a year after his death and is now a popular tourist attraction.
You can find the statue near the Greyfriars graveyard on the southern end of the George IV bridge and is well worth going to visit. The staute is lifesize but obviously as a Skye terrier isn't a huge dog the statue isn't all that large but when you know the story there is something deeply moving about visiting it.

The detailing is very impressive with it being almost lifelike. It can be difficult to get up close with the statue as the area is always thronged with tourists but you should try and persevere as even if you are nto all that familiar with the story it is worth it to just see a beautiful work of public art.
Greyfriars Bobby (Bar and Statue)
34A Candlemaker Row
Edinburgh, Scotland, EH1 2QE
+44 131 225 8328

One of the best attractions in Edinburgh

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by jipp05 on March 23, 2011

The camera obsucura and world of illusions is located at the top of the Royal Mile in Edinburghs old town just before the entrance to the castle.
To be honest we only visited it because it was one of the free attractions with the Edinburgh card we had purchased and I was deteminded to get my moneys worth. However I am glad that we went as I thouraghly enjoyed myself and found it to be much more interesting than I had thought it would be.

When entering the helpful girl on reception informed us that the camera obscura show would be starting in ten minutes and she recommended that we start with that and then make our way around the rest of the exhibits.
The obscura show is located in the top floor of the building and there are some benches that you can sit on whilst you are waiting for the previous show to finish.
When it was out time to go into the show we were taken into a dark room where again there were circular benches so we could sit to enjoy the show. In the middle of the room was a white table where the images from the camera obscura were shown.

Although it looked very low-fi I'm still in the dark as to how the obscura worked but it was surprisingly fascinating. The lady who was taking our group told us some history of the obscura and the victorian age in general and I really liked this and although she had taken the previous group she talking with enthusiasm and tried to get eveybody involved.

After watching the obscura show we went out onto the rooftop for one of the most amazing views in Edinburgh.
After this we made our way down to the lower level and started to work our way through the world of illusion exhibits.
This was by far my favourite part of visiting the camera obscura and the exhibts were both fun and interesting. They had a great collection of optical illusions and the static balls were especially good. You could put your hands on them and your hair would stand on end. Juvenile maybe but loads of fun.

It was like stepping back into victorian fun house with lot's of mirrors that changed your body shape and even some brilliant kaelidascops. I was really impressed and think it would be a great experience for kids but that's not to say that adults can't also enjoy it.
The holograph exhibit was particulary impressive and would have been worth the price of admission alone.
There was also some less fun but nethertheless interesting victorian exhibits that the kids may not enjoy as much but I certainly did.

The camera obscura and world of illusion is a great attraction in Edinburgh and is well worth visiting for people of all ages.
Prices are £9.95 for adults and £7.95 for students and aldults but remember it is free with the Edinburgh card.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Castlehill, The Royal Mile
Edinburgh, Scotland
0131 226 3709


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