Edinburgh: Days 4 & 5 – The easiest way to storm a castle? Pay to get in

The Thursday could’ve had a more relaxed start as there no specific plans in place again but I’d decided that I was going to the castle so I got up relatively early and got my shit sorted so I could go and get breakfast and get along to the castle. I had a very nice wander down the Royal Mile on the way to the castle checked out the shops and also stopped off at the cathedral which happily was on the way. I’m not a hugely religious person but I love the architecture and history of a lot of religious buildings, and being able to check out things like the tombs and stain glass windows, it’s just genuinely fascinating to me.

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After the cathedral I continued on to the castle where I met with quite a sizeable queue, dickhead that I am I hadn’t considered that as a well known tourist attraction there were a lot of people wanting to see it. Fortunately the staff manning the counter were very effective at keeping the queue moving at a decent pace while also remaining really friendly, so it didn’t actually take as long to get into the castle as I’d feared.

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Once inside I proceeded to do what I do, that is to say wander around aimlessly and try not to get in the way of anyone taking photos. The castle has a big military history so there were a lot of really interesting exhibits to see, especially for me as I’ve never really grown up much from the kid that used to play army with his friends. There was a war museum, exhibits about the Dragoons and Royal Regiment and the prison which were all really interesting, and the great hall which was huge and adorned with a frankly ridiculous number of swords and other assorted weaponry, but my 2 favourite things were still to come.

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The Scottish crown jewels were awesome, the sword of state is one of the most beautiful swords I’ve ever seen and it was really interesting to read about the lengths that people went to in order to keep them away from Oliver Cromwell at a time when he was selling the English crown jewels off. I then went to the war memorial, I’m not going to lie I got a bit emotional as I find things like that really humbling, it’s a reminder of just how many people gave their lives in order to protect the freedom that we take for granted these days.

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Once done with the castle I went in search of the grave and statue of Greyfriars Bobby, I’d been as a kid and was determined to go this time however I’d had an absolute nightmare trying to locate it. Turns out I’m a lucky bastard at times as after a brief meander from the castle I checked a map and it turned out that I was only about 5 minutes away so pottered down that way to check it out and once I was done wandered back to the hotel to have a shower and get some food before heading out for drinks.

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I had seen a little place that seemed to do a large variety of bourbons so I went there to drink and read, it was a very pleasant evening and got to earn myself a little karma when the bar lady gave me too much change on one round, this was followed almost instantly by my Kindle dying which leads me to believe that karma is a fickle mistress. Anyway I had a couple more drinks while trying to fix my Kindle before admitting defeat and heading back for some sleep.

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The journey home on the Friday would’ve got a more prominent place had anything exciting happened but it was the usual scramble to get packed up, a stop for breakfast and then on to the train station. The most eventful thing to happen was that I helped a couple of ladies stow their luggage but other than that it was a long journey spent reading a book called the Sculptor (good but very very bittersweet) and listening to music.

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All in all I really enjoyed my break, it was nice to get away and really cool to see somewhere I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. If I were to go again I’d like to do one of the graveyard tour type things and take in a comedy show. I’d recommend it to anyone though.

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