We started our second day in Edinburgh by walking to Calton Hill, which has a bunch of cool buildings and monuments as well as views of the city below.
Here's me doing a silly pose with a cannon in front of an observatory and a selfie with the view.
And here is the Nelson Monument, which is supposed to look like a telescope. (After failing to answer a question about Lord Nelson correctly in our impromptu pub-trivia effort in Ireland, we have come across a ton of Lord Nelson stuff. It's like he is haunting us for missing the question.)
Most notable on the hill is the giant National Monument, which was inspired by the Parthenon in Greece. Since we will be seeing the real deal in a few weeks, we will be able to see who did the Parthenon better - the Greeks or the Scots. My money is on the Greeks.
From Calton Hill, we walked to one of the nearby locations of a local fast food-ish joint called Oink that I had read about. Each Oink location in Edinburgh roasts an entire hog each day (which they display in the window). And the only thing that they serve is pulled pork from said hog, which you can either get in a box or on a bun with a couple different sauces and fillings. Dylan got his in a box with onion and sage filling and apple sauce. I got the "Oink" size bun (the larger size is called a Grunter, which I found really funny) with Haggis filling and hot chili sauce. It doesn't look the best, but it was tasty!
We also walked right by a gelato place that looked too good to pass up, so we got one to share.
After lunch, we walked back to the Royal Mile to see the inside of St. Giles Cathedral (this is the one I had pictures of outside yesterday).
This is a picture of the roof in the "thistle" chapel in one part of the church. (On a side note, we have seen a lot of thistle stuff, since thistle is the national flower of Scotland. But the best is a chain of souvenir shops called "Thistle Do Nicely." As I have said earlier, I can really appreciate a good pun.)
From St. Giles, we headed further up the Royal Mile toward the castle. On the way, we came across a bagpiper who was braving the wind and generous enough to pose with tourists passing by.
Dylan and I decided not to go into the castle for the full tour, but we really liked exploring the exterior, especially seeing how the walls were built onto/into the rock below.
I got this picture of the castle a little while later in the day from a street below, but figured it would go well here.
Next, Dylan graciously went along with me as I hunted for various sites in Edinburgh that are associated with the Harry Potter books. The city offers guided Harry Potter tours, but I didn't want to torture Dylan too much - even though he said we could go on one. So I found a self-guided tour online and used that to explore...
First, we explored the Writer's Museum, which actually didn't have any J.K. Rowling stuff on display at the moment, but was still neat to see. We learned instead about Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The museum is housed in a building from the 1800s, which is quite historic in and of itself!
Next, we explored Victoria Street, which also dates back to the 1800s. According to a sign on the street, it's Scotland's most photographed street and believed by some to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books. (An important side note is that J.K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she wrote a lot of her books.)
From there, we ventured into the cemetery in Greyfriars Kirkyard to see the headstones that likely inspired Rowling in naming some of her characters.
Here's me with the marker for William McGonagal (like Professor McGonagal).
And here's me with the marker for Thomas Riddell and his family (like Tom Riddle aka Voldemort). The main reason why we were able to find this marker was that a tour guide in a robe with a wand was standing in front of it. As we waited for her to be done with her spiel to take photos, we heard her saying that each Halloweeen at midnight, a bunch of people show up dressed like Deatheaters (Lord Voldemorts' followers in the book) and pretend to duel with their wands...which is pretty crazy.
From the kirkyard, we could also see George Heriot's school, which is supposedly an inspiration for Hogwarts!
As we were leaving the cemetery and wrapping up my self-guided tour, we also came across this creepy relief/sculpture that Dylan thought looked cool.
Although it wasn't an intentional part of the tour, we also came across a guy dressed like Dobby at one point
We ended up finding ourselves near the University of Edinburgh, which had a beer garden set up for the Fringe Festival. It looked very inviting so we decided to get a pint. Dylan got a Franciscan Well beer (from Cork in Ireland, which we visited!) and I got a passion fruit cider, which was delicious but also very, very sweet.
From there, we headed back to the center of town to see some more festival festivities - like this juggler and this silent dj group, which looked really silly but seemed to be having fun.
On the way, we unexpectedly came across the taproom of a craft brewery called Fierce Beer. We got a chilli (yes that's how they spell it here) and lime sour, a "kit-kat" pale, and a coffee vanilla porter to share. The beers were very interesting and tasty, and we liked their can/wall art too!
After heading out of the Fierce bar, we came across a Wahaca, which I had seen in London and noticed beaause the name is a phonetic spelling of Oaxaca. We decided to try it out since Mexican food is one of the few types of food we haven't had (and had been missing) since we left CA.
We got micheladas, guacamole, and one of their recommended small plates selections. The food definitely didn't taste like authentic Oaxacan food, but it was very good and actually had some heat to it - which is extremely rare in the UK.
After dinner, we continued toward the center of the city. On our way, we came across this Oor Wullie. Dylan's least favorite thing about all of the UK and Ireland is the number of wasps that are often buzzing about when you try to eat and drink outside. It thus seemed fitting to get his picture with this Oor Wullie.
Eventually, we made it to another awesome beer garden set up for the festival in the heart of the city with a great view of the castle. We finished out our day of excess with a couple pints, people watching and listening to live music until the fire works show started above the castle.