After spending our first night in The Hostel, we started May 20th by heading to the Royal Yacht Britannia. We had to walk about 2 miles to catch a bus to take us to Port of Leith, Ocean Terminal. The Royal Britannia sailed the waters carrying the Queen and the Royal Family for 44 years. It was taken out of service in 1994 and is now a popular tourist destination. Touring the Britannia allowed me to see much of the exterior and interior of the ship and the way it would have looked while the Queen was on board.
I was really impressed by the State Dining Room, where everything was perfectly placed. The crew would take hours to prepare this room, measuring with rulers to make sure each place setting was exactly the same. It’s crazy the amount of detail that goes into just this one room alone.
The group I was with during the self-guided audio tour of the Britannia finished pretty early so we walked around the shopping mall that the ship was connected to. After a while, we went back to see if anyone else was finished yet. We assumed we were all leaving together as one big group since we came on a bus and were not given direction to do otherwise. We waited for about two hours until we found out our professors were having tea on the boat and we could just leave whenever we were done. We were really annoyed at first because now we had to rush to eat lunch and head over to our tour of Edinburgh Castle. I say “at first” because everything happens for a reason. We proceeded to try and figure out how to get back towards the castle to find something quick to grab for lunch. We thought it was going to be a while for the next bus so we decided to just head back inside the mall and eat there. As we were walking back inside we saw the bus pull up and asked if it was heading in our direction. It was, so we took the bus to the stop closest to the castle. A few blocks after getting off the bus we stumbled across Pret A Manger, which is equivalent to true love in my book.
Pret had the most delicious fresh sandwiches ever. It cost more to eat there so we decided to get our food to-go, or “take-away” as they say in the UK. This series of events led us to eat lunch in the West Princes Street Gardens where there was a festival going on with live music and a breathtaking view of the castle right in front of us. There are so many times in life where little events, some that may even seem negative at the time, are added together and molded into the perfect moment. This was one of those times. A series of moments that we wanted to preserve, as if it were possible to stay at that point in time. But our 3pm Edinburgh Castle tour was just around the corner, so we headed over the mound to make the climb up the castle.
Upon entering the castle there were even more amazing views of the city. You can even see all the people gathered around the stage listening to the music at the festival. There were so many different parts of the castle. We saw The Crown Jewels, St. Margaret’s Chapel, The Great Hall, Prisons of War, and more.
The Prisons of War Exhibition is where war prisoners were held. It was very musky and creepy down there and it was definitely uncomfortable living quarters. They had a door on display that an American soldier carved USA into. They also had a dog cemetery for the Scottish soldiers in the castle, which I thought was really nice.
Next we did a little bit of shopping on the Royal Mile and then got some dinner from a pub called Auld Hundred on Rose Street. I ordered some delicious vegetable soup and mac and cheese, which is definitely different from American mac and cheese. They used a white cheddar-like cheese for the sauce and the noodles were drenched in it so much that it was almost overflowing out of the bowl. It was delicious though, just like all the food was during the trip. After dinner we stopped back at The Hostel to change and then we headed out to Grassmarket to The Beehive Inn where our second pub crawl of the trip would begin. This pub crawl was a little more entertaining than the one in Dublin. The sign below was in a bathroom stall at one of the pubs we stopped at and I just had to take a picture.
The pub crawl marked the end of the night for us and we got ready for what would soon be one of my favorite days of the entire trip.