We checked out of our hotel this morning and began a three-hour drive to Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland.
As we started our drive, we could see Pap Glencoe in the distance and felt quite impressed that we had made it to the top! It's the rounded (somewhat pimple-looking) peak you can see in these next two photos.
As we got a little further into the drive, we got some amazing views of the Highlands. Dylan ended up pulling over at one viewpoint so we could get some photos. But ultimately the photos don't do it any justice. Being surrounded by such giant mountains on all sides was majestically impressive. Dylan and I were saying it's definitely one of the most beautiful nature areas we have ever been to - which is saying a lot considering the time that we have spent in Yosemite and Zion.
Once we made it out of the Highlands, the landscape really flattened out. But it was still very beautiful. There were boggy pasture areas dotted by rocks and lakes.
Ultimately, we made it to Edinburgh and checked into the Beaverbank Residence, which is actually a dorm during the school year. During the summer, a company takes over and rents the dorms out as quasi-hotel rooms. It was quite a nice dorm room and only about a half hour walk from downtown, so we were happy!
From the very start of our walk downtown, we got to see some of the beautiful architecture of Edinburgh.
We also were reunited with some more Oor Wullie statues like what we had seen in Glasgow.
And the best of all was that we came across a tourist who was unironically wearing a Sherlock hat like the ones we had tried on at the Islay Woollen Mill!
Since we had just come from a nature park, we didn't want to shock our systems with too much city stuff too quickly. So we decided to take advantage of the fact that Edinburgh has a beautiful park, the Holyrood park, with an ancient volcano called Arthur's Seat that you can hike.
(We also got a quick look at the Queen's Gallery/Palace, which is right next to Holyrood park, but didn't bother to pay for the entrance/tour.)
Here's the view of cliffs from the edge of the park and then Arthur's Seat in the distance.
Pretty early into the short but steep hike, we came across ruins of a medieval chapel with a grassy knoll on one side and a lake below on the other.
As we continued onwards and upwards, the views of the city (and ocean beyond it) got even better.
But by the time we got to the very top, we were bombarded with some impressively strong wind - like duck down or you will literally get blown off the rocks, strong wind. Dylan managed the wind and posing for some awesome photos quite well. I, on the other hand, did not. But I had a lot of fun trying!
We hadn't eaten a meal all day and were pretty hungry after our jaunt up to Arthur's Seat so we ventured to the Royal Mile, which is the main street in Edinburgh's old town, and found a table at a pub for lunch. Dylan got a picture of me with my craft beer that came in pint glass with a really cool design. And I got a picture of the giant haggis burger that he ordered.
Once we no longer had food on the brain, we spent the rest of the day enjoying the hustle and bustle of the Royal Mile. We ended up really lucking out with our timing of coming to Edinburgh, because the Fringe Festival is happening now. We had no idea that the Fringe Festival even existed, but it turns out that it's the largest arts festival in the world. It goes on for several weeks in August and stands out for accepting anyone for any type of performance. Anyone who wants to perform just has to register in advance, and then they are given a time slot at one of hundreds of venues across the city.
We got to see an Aussie street performer juggle knives and axes in between telling a bunch of jokes, including a number of quite funny jabs at Americans.
We also saw a number of musicians, including this cute kid playing bagpipes.
Possibly my favorite person that we saw on the street, though, was a lady dressed in a Scottish punk outfit with a giant mohawk. She had a traditional wool spinning display set out and requested tips for demonstrations. I didn't want a demonstration, just to document her look. So I got this great shot of Dylan in front of St. Giles Cathedral...with her in the background!
Here's another cool shot of the Cathedral with a statue of Adam Smith in front.
Eventually, we ventured a little ways of the Royal Mile to see the Scott Monument, which was built in honor of the novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott.
We also gained an appreciation of Edinburgh as a city constructed on hills. It makes for some great views of buildings and a skyline that seemingly juts up right in front of you at times.
As we were walking back to our dorm at sunset, we passed a major construction area. A topic of conversation that came up a few times on our trip with the Gang of 7 was how it was annoying when cranes and scaffolding ruined otherwise perfectly unobstructed views of historic buildings and beautiful landscapes. (Elin in particular is not a fan of cranes.) But with the sun setting, I thought these cranes were actually kind of pretty. So here is my nod to the cranes of Edinburgh.