One of the very BEST things about having friends who live in the places you visit is the “behind the scenes” or “only locals know about…” areas!! Since I was fortunate enough to have two fabulous friends living in Edinburgh, I was given quite a few fun tours around the city and surrounding the city!!
I was taken to Leith where the Royal Yacht Britannia is. That is the Yacht that the Queen of England used to travel around in. It has now been decommissioned and is only used as a tour yacht with a restaurant on board as well for those wishing to dine like a queen:) However, the yacht does stay permanently docked. It no longer travels around… In fact, it was due to the cost of fuel to have it sail around that prompted the Prime Minister (I believe it was Blair who did so) to decommission the yacht so that the Queen could no longer use it… His stance was that it was too expensive for the taxpayers to keep up with.
In the bay near the Leith area there is actually a little island that was carved to look like a ship!! This was a tactic used by the Scots to prevent people from coming into the Bay. An approaching ship would try to sneak in, but then see an intimidating ship in the harbor just ahead and turn away… Needless to say, the “ship” was actually quite harmless, but it did it’s job!! Clever Scots!!
Which by the way, I never really realized how many innovators are Scottish! The list literally goes on and on of Scottish inventors!! Among them Alexander Graham Bell (inventor of the telephone) and Alexander Fleming (discovered penicillin)!! Or maybe it has something to do with Alexander’s…. lol!! Just joking! But seriously the list of Scottish inventors goes on and on… Oh and a little fact to mention about Edinburgh in general, it is world renowned for medical and medicinal advances! A ton of discoveries in the medical field that have created vaccines, medicines, antibiotics, and anesthetics have come from Edinburgh! Quite impressive!
In any event, other areas I was driven to include the neighborhood and buildings that inspired the movie Trainspotting with Ewan McGregor. The area has since been cleaned up a bit, but it was interesting to see nonetheless.
I was driven in style in K’s Porsche over to Queensferry, where a marvel of a bridge from an esthetic and engineering point of view is, then across the bridge to North Queensferry where the Prime Minister has a house. Now there are actually two bridges that go across to Queensferry… One is a car/truck/general vehicle bridge (they are also in the process of building a new one just beside it) that basically looks like a mini golden gate bridge and the other more alluring bridge is the tram bridge! That one is quite impressive from an engineering perspective for sure!!!
I was taken to an area just off the Royal Mile called Grass Market where the Edinburgh Witch Trials took place and it has the spot where the last burning of a witch occurred… and perhaps MOST importantly, I was taken to the most fun hole-in-the-wall pubs in Edinburgh for some much needed pints of beer!!! Yum!!! Which reminds me as well, for those wanting to travel in the UK, probably the BEST deal for food and drink is the WeatherSpoon chains… There are several around Scotland (not sure if they are in England as well) all called WeatherSpoons XYZ, meaning they all have a unique name, but the word “WeatherSpoons” is always in there so you know it’s part of the chain… Anyway, you can get a meal and a pint for like 7 pounds!!! Just Brilliant!!
On to Arthur’s Seat & Calton Hill