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After a filling breakfast at Premier Inn (included in the room rate), we decided to visit Holyrood Park and hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat. We chose the steeper ascent. For some reason, I thought it would be a faster route but not so much. Just before the summit it becomes a bit steep and very rocky so good walking shoes are a must. We saw a few people in sandals struggling not to slip on the rocks. I’m certainly feeling it in my legs this evening. At 251 meters (823.5 feet) high, we were rewarded with a beautiful view from the top!

Edinburgh the hike up Arthur's Seat
Along the trail to Arthur’s Seat

Edinburgh Arthur's seat almost to the tip top
Almost to the top!

Edinburgh Ruins of St Anthony's chapel
Ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, Holyrood Park

Top of Arthur's Seat
Made it to the top

View from Arthur's Seat
View from the top of Arthur’s Seat

And because I still can’t get over the view from our room in Edinburgh, here’s one at sunset

Edinburgh Sunset on the castle

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I’m so excited to be in Scotland again! My last two visits (November and March) were both bone-chillingly cold. As cold as it was, I still loved being in Scotland and now even more since it’s warm and sunny!

When I booked our flight, I searched extensively for the cheapest fare with the best flight times. Ended up booking a flight on Aer Lingus which flew from Dulles (Virginia) to Dublin then on to Edinburgh. It was the Red Eye flight (we ended up taking off at 10:40pm). Luckily, we had tailwinds and the flight was only 6.5 hours! From Dublin to Edinburgh it was a little under an hour.

I’m traveling with my husband and daughter. We have different ideas of how to get “on local time.” I have to take a nap for an hour or two while they force themselves to stay awake. While I napped, they went to the top of the Scott Monument (which we did while here in March)

Edinburgh View from the Scott Monument
View from the top of the Scott Monument

Edinburgh View from our hotel room at the Premier Inn
The view from our room at Premier Inn on Princes Street, Edinburgh

Edinburgh New Tram to city center

Edinburgh on the tram
On the newly opened tram from the Edinburgh Airport to City Center

Edinburgh on Chalotte Square
Charlotte Square buildings, Edinburgh, Scotland

I’m so thrilled with the view from our room but it makes me want to just hang out and stare at it but we’re heading out to hike “Arthur’s Seat” and then to lunch with a friend who lives locally. Did I mention I’m thrilled to be here!!

Edinburg view from the room at sunset

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We’ve had a wonderful time in Edinburgh and there’s such a fun vibe to the city, I could stay for another week but we’re heading to the Highlands. We explored as much as we could in our two days here but there’s so much left to see and do.

Rabbie Burns Bar along the Royal Mile Edinburgh

Rabbie Burns Bar along the Royal Mile Edinburgh

Poppy Wreath in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice

Poppy Wreath in honor of those who have given the ultimate sacrifice

Orange Bike in Ediburgh ~ nice color for a grey day

Orange Bike in Edinburgh ~ nice color for a grey day

Scott Monument

Scott Monument

Tolbooth Tavern ~ along the Royal Mile Edinburgh

Tolbooth Tavern ~ along the Royal Mile Edinburgh

Clock along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Clock along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Royal Mile, Edinburgh

Love seeing Tartan everywhere ~ including on the public bus CCTV screen

Love seeing Tartan everywhere ~ including on the public bus CCTV screen

Passageway along the Royal Mile

Passageway along the Royal Mile

Another plus about Edinburgh is the vast number of restaurants. We had a traditional Scottish Breakfast in the am, Turkish food for lunch, and Japanese food for dinner. All delicious! As we walked down the Royal Mile we realized it was lunchtime and stopped in at Cafe Truva (Turkish Mediterranean food). It was an excellent choice! Good service and yummy food.

Cafe Truva Spinach and Feta wrao ~ delicious!

Cafe Truva Spinach and Feta wrap ~ delicious!

We’re hoping to return in June. Hiking to the top of Arthur’s Seat, the National Museum of Scotland are at the top of the to do list.

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If you’re familiar with “The DaVinci Code”, the plot’s climax was filmed at Rosslyn Chapel. In Dan Brown’s book, he claims the Knights Templar built the chapel even though the Knights had died out 100 years prior to the completion of the Chapel. With or without the Dan Brown hoopla, Rosslyn Chapel is well worth a visit.

The Chapel is located 7 miles west of Edinburgh in Roslin and was built in the 15th century for William St Clair (Third Prince of Orkney). It’s a working church called “Church of St Matthew.” It has an ornately carved stone interior which wasn’t in fashion at the time it was built. The Masonic artwork, which seems to cover every surface of the chapel, is rich in symbolism. There are carvings of flowers, angels, biblical lessons, pagan “Green Man” & other figures associated with both the Freemasons and the Knights Templar. Some researchers believe the symbolism in the carvings suggests Rosslyn Chapel is a Secret Knights Templar site and it may store either the “Holy Grail” or John the Baptist’s head is in the vaults or perhaps in the master’s column.

Our guide told us before “The DaVinci Code” their visitors numbered about 30,000 per year but once the book and movie came out it soared to over 120,000 a year. You can’t buy that kind of PR! The boon in visitors has allowed the chapel to fund much needed restorations. The tour guide also mentioned the number of true believers/conspiracy theorists who visit the chapel increased after the release of the movie ~ including a man, complete with axe, who wanted to look for the treasures in one of the columns.

The Chapel is very impressive and we especially liked seeing the carvings of plants which are indigenous to the Americas but were carved PRIOR to Columbus’ discovery of the New World. Makes you wonder how the carver knew about such things. Rosslyn Chapel is worth the easy half day visit from Edinburgh. We took Bus 15 which runs every 30 minutes from Princess Street and it takes  30 minutes to get to Roslin. Give yourself about 1.5 hours to visit the chapel and grounds. It cost £18 for two adults and our 15-year-old was free. Sidenote: The bus didn’t have an indicator as to the next stop so we told the driver where we were going and he was nice enough to let us know when to hop off.

No Photography was allowed inside and there’s a stone wall around the chapel so it was difficult to get a photo of the entire building. For inside photos and more information on the Chapel, click here.

Rosslyn Chapel Entrance

Rosslyn Chapel Entrance

Rosslyn Chapel Back Door

Rosslyn Chapel Back Door

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel Grave Site

Rosslyn Chapel Grave Site

Old Rosslyn Inn entrance

Old Rosslyn Inn entrance

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The (Sir Walter) Scott Monument is the largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer. The Victorian Gothic style monument is located in Princess Street Gardens and commands attention as its spires jut up to the sky. There are 287 steps to the top and there are four spiral staircases with three landings. The staircases started off with very narrow steps and got progressively more narrow as we got closer to the top. I could feel those stairs in my calves the next day but it was well worth it for the beautiful views. The entrance fee is £3 which works out to about a pence a step.

Scott Monument

Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

Sir Walter Scott Monument

Scott Monument Landing

Scott Monument Landing

Scott Monument Spiral Staircase ~ the wider stairs

Scott Monument Spiral Staircase ~ the wider stairs

Near the top of the Monument ~ John almost got stuck due to large backpack

Near the top of the Monument ~ John almost got stuck due to large backpack

View through a window along the spiral staircase

View through a window along the spiral staircase

View from the first landing

View from the first landing

View of Castle from the Scott Monument

View of Castle from the Scott Monument

Needless to say, it was cold and WINDY at the top but, oh the gorgeous views!

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We had a great visit to Holyroodhouse Palace and the Ruins of Holyrood Abbey.  The castle is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland but she only spends about a week each year at Holyrood. The rest of her time in Scotland is spend at her favorite, Balmoral Castle. Would love to visit Balmoral but unfortunately it’s closed this time of year.

Holyroodhouse Palace is located at the bottom of the Royal Mile and is next to the very modern Scottish Parliament Building. There has been a royal presence at Holyroodhouse since 1126 which is when the Abbey was built by King David I of Scotland. The Royal apartments are filled with many beautiful paintings, tapestries, period furniture and other works of art.

I had heard the story about Mary Queen of Scots jealous 2nd husband killing her Italian male secretary at the Palace so it was weird to see the very spot he was murdered . He was stabbed over 50 times ( how “Psycho” of her husband). Mary was held with a pistol pointed at her while she witnessed the entire event. Always some kind of drama with the monarchy.

Photography is not allowed in the palace but I was able to take a few photos around the palace and at the Abbey. It was grey with snow flurries on and off all day. Hoping for a little sunshine tomorrow for our drive to the Highlands.

Entrance to Holyrood Castle

Entrance to Holyrood Palace

At the Entrance of Holyrood Castle

At the Entrance of Holyrood Palace

The Quadrangle at Holyrood Castle

The Quadrangle at Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace

Crosses at Holyrood Palace

Crosses at Holyrood Palace

Lamp at Holyrood

Lamp at Holyrood

Ruins of Holyrood Abbey

Ruins of Holyrood Abbey

Ruins of Holyrood Palace

Ruins of Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Abbey Ruins

Holyrood Abbey Ruins

Gorgeous roof at the Ruins

Gorgeous roof at the Ruins

Looking out from the Ruins

Looking out from the Ruins

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We arrived in Edinburgh at about 5:30 pm yesterday after 4.5 hours on the train ride from London. It’s even colder than it was in mid-November and I’m definitely going to need a few more layers of clothing. Edinburgh’s Waverly Station is still one big construction zone and difficult to maneuver through.

We had such a wonderful visit in Edinburgh last fall but didn’t get a chance to see enough of the sights so I put it at the top of our Spring Scotland adventure. On our last visit, we “winged it” with restaurant choices. We walked around until we found a place. I pre-planned a little more for this trip and decided we would splurge on the first night of our holiday. I booked “David Bann” ~ a Vegetarian Restaurant which has great reviews in The Lonely Planet Guidebook and on Tripadvisor. Even the carnivore in the family came away very satisfied with his dinner.  Only glitch was I emailed my reservations, got a confirmation but when we showed up, they didn’t have our name. A little awkward but after a short wait the hostess took us to a booth.

David Bann is elegant and yummy! I agree with the positive reviews. If you’re in Edinburgh and want a delicious meal in a nice atmosphere, it’s located just a couple blocks off of the “Royal Mile” at 56-58 St. Mary’s Street.

David Bann Restaurant

David Bann Restaurant

At David Bann

At David Bann

Olive Starter ~ very yummy

Olive Starter ~ very yummy

Spicy koftas of roasted aubergine, chick pea and toasted cashews

Spicy koftas of roasted aubergine, chick pea and toasted cashews

Stir fried vegetables with udon noodles and smoked tofu.

Stir fried vegetables with udon noodles and smoked tofu.

No one could decide which dish was the best so we all shared our plates...

No one could decide which dish was the best so we all shared our plates…

We did have dessert but it was gobbled up before I remembered to take a photo. The hot pear and passion fruit tart was my favorite.  We walked back to the hotel for a few blocks and I attempted to take night photos but couldn’t keep my hands from shaking due to the cold and wind. None of the shots came out. Maybe today…

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