It’s a great peasure for me to introduce you a new topic on the blog: from now on, “The Blog around The Corner” will have some special guests writing about travel&food, photography&interiors! Nice, isn’t it! Of course, every one of you, if you wish, is invited to make a special post for me, I would be really honoured.
I’ve been contacted by Raffaella, the author, for the first time by mail: she proposed to me to publish a short article about travel on my blog, and in the beginning, I was so surprised! Then I became really proud of this, and I just loved the idea. I don’t know really much Raffaella, but she has some qualities I could’nt ignore: she’s a traveller like me; she makes beautiful photographies (like me?!) and she likes to share with others her travel experiences (like me!) so… for today I leave the blog to Raffaella!
Catching Ghosts in Edimburgh. Scotland is a country that offers travellers beautiful and, at the same time, spiritual surprises: from Medieval castles to secluded beaches, from remote lakes to art cities, first of all its capital Edinburgh. The city lies on a series of gentle hills, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, a fjord of glacial origin where the River Forth flows into the North Sea.In virtue of its numerous neoclassical monuments, its intellectual atmosphere and its tendency to holding cultural events, Edinburgh is often compared to ancient Athens and even referred to as Athens of the North. The historical parts of the city, namely the Old Town and the New Town, are so rich in monuments that they were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO back in 1995. Let’s start our tour with the most representative building in Edinburgh, that is…
Edinburgh Castle. This is the second most visited building in the United Kingdom, after the Tower of London. In years, it has become an authentic symbol not only for Edinburgh, but for the whole Scotland. Just take a look at it and you will be pervaded by dreamlike suggestions.
The Castle’s origins go really back in time: there is evidence that the rock (the so-called Castle Rock), upon which the Castle sits, was inhabited since the Iron Age or even earlier, although it is difficult to estimate what type of human settlement it was. Starting from the Medieval period, the Rock became a royal seat; from the 15th century onwards, this royal role declined and the Castle was mainly used as a military garrison. What we see today is the result of centuries of changes and restorations according to the tastes and fashions of the different epochs.
The Dark Side of the Castle.Visiting Edinburgh Castle is not only a journey through time: it is also a way to get to know the dark side of this enigmatic city.Perhaps most of people ignore that the soil where the Castle stands is cursed: between the 16th and 18thcentury, at least 300 people accused of witchcraft were burned on the esplanade, just in front of the entrance. Many are the ghosts living in the Castle, according to the legend. I personally was particularly impressed by the story of a bagpiper that was sent underground to explore some secret tunnels leading from the Castle to the Royal Mile and simply vanished with no trace. Sometimes, people say, his music can still be heard. The Edinburgh Castles also has some underground prisons where prisoners were kept to be tortured: many of them never saw the light again and perished in the Castle dungeons. Legend has it that their ghosts are still wandering there. For prices, opening hours and booking online, you can have a look at the official site of the Castle.
Grass-market Square. It is said to be one of the most macabre places in the city, the market-place where public executions took place. The spirits of the executed people, according to the legend, are still there… I am not sure whether I was only influenced by it, but to be totally honest there was a strange atmosphere in the square. (Have a go if you dare! Then let me know..)
The Royal Mile. It is the main street of the Old Town, connecting the Castle to the Palace of Holyrood House. On either side of the road, an intricate system of narrow passages and steep alleys (called closes) opens up; all around, high and grey palaces close the vision. They say the spirits of the people who died during the plague in 1644, when hundreds of men and women were walled up alive in their homes, are still trapped in the area. One of the most famous close is the one of Mary King that was re-opened to the public in 2003. A visit to it is highly recommended.
Food in Edinburgh. Where to eat in Edinburgh? The answer is easy: taverns! Along the Royal Mile, you will find plenty of them. Personally, I recommend the Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, an authentic Scottish pub with delicious food and very accessible prices. Have a look at what people say about it here. The last time I have been to Edinburgh, I tried this café-bar called the Pottery Shed where I had a supreme battered haddock. (please read the reviews on Tripadvisor ).
Sleeping in Edinburgh. When visiting a city, I guess most of tourists opt for a nice hotel in a central position so they can use it as the perfect starting point for their tours. Even better if the hotel’s rooms offer beautiful views on the city and its Castle. Then, if the hotel in question has an indoor pool, free Wi-Fi, a restaurant overlooking a beautiful private garden and a lounge bar for aperitifs and snacks, there is no questioning the choice. Here is my personal choice after a long research on the net: the 4-star Crowne Plaza at 18 Royal Terrace, right in the heart of Edinburgh, at the most convenient price I could find. Also, friends have mentioned to me a website specialized in renting holiday apartments and houses: I guess it could be worth a try if you are not fond of hotels, but actually prefer to enjoy the freedom of an independent accommodation.
How to get to Edinburgh. Reaching the Scottish capital is easy and convenient thanks to a good range of economic flights from the main low-cost companies, like Ryanair, Easyjet or Vueling. If you want to be sure to get the most convenient ticket, then you should browse sites like Skyscanner that compares a large numbers of cheap flights from different lines in few seconds. Personally, I have never tried it, but friends that have used it told me it was really easy to find the plane they were looking for.
See?Raffaella sure has the gift to explain things without being boring: she go straight to the point and give to us many practical advices for a fantastic trip in Edimburgh, sharing with us her own great experience. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions for her!