Elegant Edinburgh (1)

Day 1 (13 December 2014)

As I walked down the street in that biting cold evening, the shrilly sound of bagpipes vaguely reached my ears. I speeded up my steps to look for the source of the sound, and surprisingly found a young man wearing that traditional tartan kilt in front of a hotel’s gate. Few people flocked up around him while he continuously play the bagpipes. By that time I realized that I’ve already arrived at Scotland, in its capital city of Edinburgh 🙂

Typical Scottish man with tartan kilt and bagpipes

Traditional Scottish man with tartan kilt and bagpipes

I got 4 days and 4 nights to explore this stunningly wondrous city. Edinburgh is like an elegant lady. She has that perfect combination of everlasting beauty. Her amazing natural landscapes and fascinating antique buildings were beautifully wrapped up by impressive city design. She’s just simply magnificent!

Edinburgh: castles everywhere, just like a Harry Potter world in real life

Edinburgh: castles everywhere, just like a Harry Potter world in real life

I spent the first evening to enjoy night view of Princes Street (princes not princess). It’s pretty easy to explore Edinburgh since most of tourist attractions are located in this city center area: Edinburgh’s Castle, Scottish National Gallery, Princes Street Christmas Market, Old Town, and all the shopping centers. Even Scottish National Museum, University of Edinburgh, Arthur’s Seat, and Calton Hill are also located in walkable distance from city center. I think walking is the best way to explore Edinburgh. Every single step taken was worth it because every road and building is just a perfect photography spot 😉 Still, you need that full-set of winter outfit to brace yourself: it’s Scotland!

Princess Street Christmas Market, stunning view at night (photo by Lely)

Princess Street Christmas Market, stunning view at night (photo by Lely Tri W)

Day 2 (14 December 2014)

I stayed in a hostel dormitory room with 16 beds inside. It was the first time of my life to stay in a hostel, and I was actually a bit worried (I mean, you slept with 16 strangers!). However, I guess I’m lucky to meet nice people there. I met a nice Taiwanese girl and we soon became friends. For two days she joined me and my friend to explore Edinburgh. Sharon, Lely, and I were walking around the city center together.

Three of us

Three of us

In the morning we started our tour by exploring Princes Street Christmas Market. I have never heard of Christmas Market tradition before, and I think it’s something very European. Apparently it was originated in Germany (Wiki said)–no wonder you can find many traditional German culinaries in most Christmas market. Actually it’s very similar with Indonesian “pasar malam” (night market), where people sell food and drinks in open stalls, accompanied by some games and toys (merry-go-round etc). However, this one was incomparably pretty!

A group of street musician playing Christmas carol at Princess Street Christmas Market

A group of street musician playing Christmas carol at Princess Street Christmas Market

Just beside the Christmas Market it was Scottish National Gallery. Many European historical paintings are exhibited here, including special gallery for Scottish art. To be honest I don’t really understand the History of Art (and all those paintings), but sometimes it can show you some surprising piece of historical information.

Painting about the beheading of St John the Baptist

Painting about the beheading of St John the Baptist

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Just about 10 minutes walk from Scottish National Gallery, we can reach Edinburgh Castle on top of the Castle Hill. However, it was a bad weather that day. Strong wind and heavy rain kept coming as we’re trapped in a souvenir store near the castle. As a result, we didn’t have time to explore the castle as the night started to fall (4 pm is almost sunset). Besides, it costs £16 per person to enter the castle and my British housemate said it wasn’t worth it (well for us that’s quite huge money for a castle view).

Just a shot of picture in front of castle is enough :)

Just a shot of picture in front of castle is enough 🙂

After having late lunch, we continued our walk to Scottish National Museum. It’s just few minutes walk from University of Edinburgh. I liked the tunnel design of museum receptionist, and also the main hall beautiful interior. It’s just wow! They have quite many interesting collections there to explore, eventhough not as much as British Museum of course.

Breath-taking Scottish National Museum design

Breath-taking Scottish National Museum design (photo by Lely Tri W)

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The museum was closed at 17.00 so we’re quite in a rush. After that Sharon and I went back to Christmas Market to enjoy the night view (I ended up visiting this market 3 times, never get bored :D). We walked home to the hostel together and buy some food in Tesco. Hostel is a perfect place to stay for low-budget backpacker like us. Aside from its cheap rate (I paid only £31 for 4 nights stay, the same price can’t even pay for 1 night hotel stay), it provides complete kitchen so we can cook our own meal. That night we bought some raw food in supermarket and cook it for dinner and breakfast–save a lot!

Places Visited & Budget Spent

The Hostel (accross Haymarket Station)

Charge per night = around £7.75 in my case. The cheapest one I could find around Edinburgh. Prices may change depend on booking time and staying time.

Princes Street Christmas Market

Entrance ticket = free

Scottish National Gallery

Entrance ticket = free

Edinburgh’s Castle

Entrance ticket = £16 (I didn’t get in though)

Scottish National Museum

Entrance ticket = free

Bus Ticket

One way = £1.30, Day rider = £3.50

Food

Taco Mazama Mexican Kitchen = £4 for small burittos

Tesco’s raw food = just like normal supermarket anywhere. Consider buy raw food and cook yourself! (another friend even brought a rice-cooker for 6 people traveling around Scotland)

To be continued in Part 2.

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