Saturday, January 02, 2016 Road Junkies 0 Comments

, Chapter 27: 

Day 33:  Edinburgh 

Back in our Edinburgh home away from home, we still have a couple of days to visit nearby locations before our flight home next week.  Our first stop this morning was Craigmillar Castle, just four miles from the hotel.  One of the best preserved medieval castles in Scotland, Craigmillar is best known for its association with Mary, Queen of Scots, who convalesced there after the birth of her son James.  
Craigmillar Castle
Arriving a bit before the 10:00 opening time, we strolled around the grounds and found a discreet place to hide a letterbox in an old wall.  Having finished that project, we returned to the entrance to find it still locked up tight.  Chatting briefly with an Australian couple, we discovered that they, like us, had depended on Google for opening times.  Consulting the property's web site, we discovered that it was closed today because January 2 is a bank holiday in Scotland.
The hike to Arthur's Seat
Hiding a treasure in the wall
Moving on, we drove to Calton Hill and parked near the Parliament building.  We walked up to the Old Calton Burial Ground at the top of the hill and revisited the Stewart Monument as well as the National Monument and the Nelson Monument.  Our primary purpose was to search for a likely home for a new letterbox, but we found no place suitable.
Unassuming but top notch
From there, we finally made our pilgrimage to Henderson's, the institution of a vegetarian restaurant that opened in 1962.  As when we ate there in 2011, the legendary basement bistro was bustling with customers eager to try some of the cutting edge vegetarian cuisine that has earned Henderson's an international reputation.
Love those neeps and tatties
I couldn't resist ordering the vegetarian haggis again.  It was served with clapshot, a tasty mixture of bashed neeps (rutabaga) and champit tatties (mashed potatoes), both topped with a delicious spicy sauce.  For the record, the haggis is made with mushrooms, lentils, kidney beans and oats, rather than the traditional sheep heart, liver and lungs.

After a lengthy battle with our Garmin GPS in search of a post office where we could mail a card, we finally turned to Google Maps.  It should have been no surprise to find the post office closed since we had already learned that today was a bank holiday—but only in Scotland, not in the rest of the UK.
Parks were open today, however, and were rather busy.  We drove to Holyrood Park, aka Queen's Park, and hiked up the hill to Arthur's Seat, an ancient volcano which rises 822 ft above the surrounding area and offers panoramic views of the city and beyond.  Though the trail was muddy from all the recent rain, the climb was greatly facilitated by the gradually sloped path winding up the east side of the hill.
Enjoying the climb
Edinburgh's most popular tourist attraction, Holyrood Park was established and opened to the public by James V in 1541. Prior to that the area had served as a 12th century royal hunting estate.  The park was bustling with people on this holiday, about half of whom were accompanied by dogs.  We saw only two dogs on leash.

Back at the hotel, we took advantage of the guest laundry (with tumble dryer!) and walked just down the block to the Sainsbury's Local for a few groceries.  Dinner in the room as we planned the next couple of days before returning home.


Even though we found no place for a box, the view is always great.