Edinburgh, Scotland. It is a land known for castles, warrior clans, kilts, bagpipes and haggis. Though usually overshadowed by its larger neighbor to the south, Scotland has a rich and unique history and culture all its own.
Edinburgh’s natural and architectural beauty is breathtaking. Tall cliffs, huge rolling hills, volcanoes, brown stone castles, churches and universities dating back to the Middle Ages make up just some of Edinburgh’s skyline.
Unlike London, which has incorporated a great deal of modern architecture into its skyline, Edinburgh has remained true to the rich, warm textures of the brown-stone structures. The architecture maintains the city’s age-old character and history without sacrificing any of the modern, metropolitan conveniences.
Though Edinburgh is the capital and largest city in Scotland, it has a quaint, relaxed, neighbourhood-like feel to it. Locals are quick to strike up conversations with tourists who ask for directions and recommendations of things to do in Scotland.
The people of Scotland have a tremendous pride for their heritage. Bagpipers in traditional kilts serenade pedestrians on nearly every street corner on the Royal Mile, a tourist souvenir hot-spot that leads up to Edinburgh Castle.
The souvenir shops along the Royal Mile show-off a brightly-coloured array of plaid patterns on everything from beautiful Scottish cashmere and wool scarves to traditional eight-yard kilts.
Toward the top of the Royal Mile is the Scotch Whiskey Experience, an hour-long tour dedicated to educating tourists on the major distillery regions of Scotland complete with a tasting of one shot of scotch.
“For the short tour, I learned a lot. I learned a lot about the different regions where Scotch is made and the flavours that are from each region,” Trey Lagan, a theatre student from Southeastern Louisiana University said.
Another major shopping area in Edinburgh is Princes Street. The must-see store on Princes Street is Jenners, the Edinburgh version of Harrods or Saks Fifth Avenue. It has floor upon floor of expensive, high-fashion designer collections.
For those who do not have the budget to shop at pricey, upscale department stores such as Jenners, there are a variety of vintage-looking clothing boutiques many of which offer student discounts.
As the sun sets, the Edinburgh vibe changes dramatically. The quaint, friendly atmosphere gets replaced with a wild, party atmosphere as hard-core night-clubbers, dressed to the nine hit the streets looking to get properly ‘steamin.’ The next morning the streets are littered with cigarette butts, plastic cups and other remains of the prior night’s party atmosphere.
“The atmosphere reminded me of Mardi Gras, but without the beads,” Southeastern Louisiana University business student Marianna Lawrence said.
It is very apparent walking the streets of Edinburgh in the early morning of the good time that was had the night before.
For those looking to get in touch with their inner Scottish warrior, Arthur’s Seat is an hour-long challenging hike up almost 1000 feet of steep, rocky cliffs to the peak of a dormant volcano. Arthur’s Seat is the tallest of Edinburgh’s seven hills, and the views from the peak are absolutely breathtaking. Being able to see miles and miles of rolling hills and the blue sea only add to the overwhelming sense of conquering the volcano.
“There literally are no words to describe what it’s like,” Jim Winter said, and rightly so.
At the top of the mountain the true size of Edinburgh is revealed. The city seems small to those who just stick to the touristy areas along the Royal Mile and Princes Street, however from the top of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh stretches out for several miles to the coast.
Edinburgh is a city that is hard not to fall in love with. It has such a wonderful mix of old and new, and has so much to offer: breathtaking views, great shopping, rich history and charming people.
“The people are so friendly and the city has such a cool vibe, ” Seiler said, “I really wish we could have spent more time here.”