In the summer following my freshman year at BYU, my Dad let me, Beau and Claire (my little brother and sister) tag along with him on a work trip to London. The three of us would tour the city while he worked. I remember walking the streets of Mayfair as well as Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace. We must have slept in a lot because, sadly, I don't remember much more than that. After his work ended, we rented a car and drove north through the Lake District and ended in Edinburgh, Scotland. And, I remember being totally smitten with this city even then. I thought that "if I ever GOT THE CHANCE to live abroad, then I would definitely choose this place"...big words. It is a spectacular place, seemingly untouched by time and filled with the best topography around. I felt the exact same way when we visited over New Year's with my own family.
Tons of hills and winding streets lined with tall, stone buildings everywhere. Calton Hill (below) gives a great view of the entire city and was our first stop after we arrived. I love the distinctive blackened spires of churches and memorials poking their way through the buildings.
You can see the Edinburgh Castle in the background- this historical fortress dominates the skyline and sits on a 350 million year old volcanic plug. This amazing edifice is visible from any point in the city and it is beyond stunning.
More atop Calton Hill. Thank you, Brian, for these pictures. ;) It wasn't necessarily that cold when were were there, but the the high winds were freezing.
Tessa has come a long way as far as walking around goes. We've gone from full-blown meltdowns the moment her feet hit the pavement to running up big hills and walking for miles a day! I have to give Kate all of the credit- she can always manage to get her to enjoy it by making it into a game. I mean, just look at that face!
North Bridge links the High Street with Princes Street, and the New Town with the Old. We stayed in the Old town, right at the start of the Royal Mile, which was a perfect location. You really can walk most, if not all, of the city in no time at all.
We took a train from King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. It was about a 4 1/2 hour train ride and it was gorgeous. However, we didn't reserve seats, so the 6 of us were playing musical chairs with all of our stuff as more passengers boarded along the way.
After seeing Calton Hill, we walked along the famed Royal Mile, lined with several men playing bag pipes, one man dressed like a war-ready William Wallace (face paint and all!), and tons of woolen mill shops filled with cashmere and plaid scarves, sweaters, tweed jackets and kilts. We weren't prepared for the cold wind, so we grabbed these cute hats that the girls wore the entire trip (always a bonus when you can put a souvenir to good use). We then walked down to the incredibly charming and historic Grassmarket area to grab dinner.
And, we drank lots of hot chocolate to keep us warm while we were there.
On a morning jog the next day, Brian and I ran through the Old and New Town and over to the awesome Dean Village. Along the way, we stumbled upon this amazing Christmas market. We had to bring the girls back later to check out all of the cute things for sale. We tried a chocolate kiss (shortbread cookie topped with marshmallow foam and dipped in chocolate) as well as their fresh fried donuts (so good!).
I loved looking at all of the Nativities. I also love this skyline above the stalls.
We didn't realize that Edinburgh hosts one of the biggest New Year's celebrations in Europe, called Hogmanay. They celebrate for days, starting with a huge (35,000 people!) torch light procession starting along the Royal Mile and winding through the New City up to Calton Hill on December 30. We bought a torch and joined in the fun and loved every second of the energy we felt with everyone else walking. Below you can see the torches snaking up the hill- the procession was huge!
Daddy and his girls! Everyone took turns holding our torch, even Tessa. :)
Hogmanay celebrations to be continued....