We’re Exploring: Day Two of Edinburgh

I can’t believe I slept in until 10am….which meant I didn’t make it down for the free Champagne breakfast at the Caledonian, but I did make it into their gym for a good work out prior to starting my day.  Off to explore and it is a beautiful day.  I walk across from my hotel and into the Princes Street Garden below the castle, which is bursting with wild flowers and tulips.

Around to the National Gallery of Scotland, which I briefly pop into, then enjoy a song from a new friend…..

Past the Sir Walter Scott Monument…an amazing architectural structure honoring the influential novelist.

Sir Walter Scott Monument

Follow the jump for more….

And on down High Street to Cannongate to The Palace of Holyroodhouse.  WOW…so much excitement and anticipation.  Along with loving my heritage, I am also a history nut so Holyrood House has so much significance for a history buff as the home of the Scottish monarchy over the years including Kings David I,  James IV, James V, Mary Queen of Scotts and James VI.

As I am walking I observe the shops and sites around me.  But I am on a mission to get to the palace so I wait to pop in to any of them.   Much to my regret when I do get to the palace it is closed.  When I ask a guard they say it is because of the holiday…it was Good Friday of Easter Weekend. Oh well.  from the outside it looks beautiful. Hopefully I will make another trip back to see the inside.

Palace of Holyrood House

The Scottish Parliament across from Holyrood House

So, I set out on my way back up the Royal Mile I now have an opportunity to pop into some of the shops and stops I saw along the way (which is also somewhat necessary since the walk back is completely up hill,) including a peak through the gate of the Playhouse Close where actors from the mid-1700’s walked to get to the theater of the area, Bene’s famous fish and chips shop, Golfer’s Land, an adorable Christmas all year shop and my favorite – a Scotch and Cigar shop called Robert Graham Treasurer 1874 where I had a few sips thanks to their helpful attendant Andreas who had just gotten a few samples of new whiskies in.

I was somewhat surprised that  my favorite sip was a peated limited edition Arran Machrie Moor, with only 9000 total bottles made.  Andreas had just gotten a sample of the first edition release of the Scotch.  Though the initial aroma and taste were typically earthy from the peat, the after taste was filled with floral notes, followed by caramel and a hint of green apple and orange blossom.

I am not a peated Scotch fan, but this one had a nice delicacy and richness.

I also tried a Tomintoul 16 year from Speyside.  extremely smooth and subtle with caramel, spice and a lingering finish (Gary got a bottle of this on my return….)

St. Andrews Smooth Ale

Next stop, the Balmoral Hotel bar….packed out because of the holiday weekend and bustling with happy sippers.  I enjoyed two cocktails here…one of which is said to be Prince Williams favorite – The Crack Baby….though the name is a bit disturbing the taste was incredible.  A blend of vodka, passionfruit juice and a splash of Champagne.  Though he drinks his as a shot I had mine as a cocktail.  Then a Scottish ale, St. Andrews Smooth from Belhaven – rich and full bodied.

The Balmoral Hotel

After that my afternoon and evening continued the walking tour of the city with incredible architecture.   Gary promised me Edinburgh was a beautiful walking city and he was right….every turn brought something new to see.

Royal Scottish Academy
St. Andrew’s Square

My last stop of the day was Scotts of Rose Street, one of the oldest pubs in the city and the oldest on Rose Street, dating back to 1790.  Casual and comfortable, with hearty fare and cold pints.  A perfect way to end the day.  

The adventure continues tomorrow with a tour of Edinburgh castle where, as I understand, they will have special events to celebrate the Easter weekend, including jugglers and jousters….can’t wait!