From Kirkwall to Edinburgh, Scotland has so much to see! Come
with me to visit two more ports on the
Emerald Isles cruise on Viking Sky. Kirkwall First up, Kirkwall, Scotland. Located on the Mainland of
Orkney, Kirkwall is known as the “Egypt of the North” with
numerous sites scattered around the Orkney mainland that actually
predate the Egyptian pyramids!
Some of the many ancient sights in Kirkwall include Maeshowe, an
ancient tomb tagged with Viking graffiti, Skara Brae, a
mysteriously deserted Neolithic village, as well as the Standing
Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar, both of which can be
compared to the likes of Stonehenge.
There are two main cities on the Orkney mainland: Kirkwall, the
capital city, and Stromness, a picturesque European-style town
that is close to some of the many sights on the Orkney mainland.
(You can see it all -- it only takes about 45 minutes to
drive around the entire Orkney mainland).
It’s fun to go scout out the families of Puffins that live in the
cliff walls of the Bay of Scaill. The cliff is on a small island
off the north western coast of the Orkney mainland, but the only
way to see them is to walk across to the island when the tides
are low. Travel tip: Be sure to visit the main tourist office in
Kirkwall and ask them for the best times to walk across to the
island because you will only have a limited amount of time before
the ocean level rises again.
Scotland's compact, hilly capital has a population of about
500,000, the second most populous city in Scotland. It has a
medieval Old Town and an elegant Georgian New Town with gardens
and neoclassical buildings. Looming over the city is Edinburgh Castle, home to
Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, used in the
coronation of Scottish rulers. Arthur’s Seat is an imposing peak
in Holyrood Park with sweeping views, and Calton Hill is topped
with monuments and memorials.
The Royal Mile, lined with shops selling souvenirs, clan tartans
and whisky, leads from the castle to 16th-century Holyrood
Palace, an official royal residence. The Scottish National
Galleries display Scottish and European art, including portraits
of many famous Scots.
The area around Princes Street is the main shopping area in the
city center, with souvenir shops and chain stores such as Boots
the Chemist, H&M and Jenners. George Street, north of Princes
Street, is the preferred location for some upmarket shops and
independent stores. Summer arts festival season, a city
institution, includes the internationally renowned Edinburgh
International Festival and its quirkier sibling, Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Restaurants in waterside Leith serve high-end local seafood to
traditional fish and chips. Edinburgh's "Hidden" Gems
Edinburgh is full of history and beauty – but what gems are to be
discovered off the beaten path, down Edinburgh’s many hidden
Not many people realize that Edinburgh has a river. The Water of Leith
carves its way through deep gorges on its way from the Pentland
Hills to the sea at the port of Leith. A public footpath and
cycleway runs alongside the river, providing an ideal setting for
walks with a wide variety of terrain and scenery to explore along
the way, making this a very easy way to escape the hustle and
bustle of the city. One of my favorite things to do is to eat and shop where the
locals do and engage people them in conversation to get the
tidbits of information that only locals would know.
For example, The
Royal Mile ‘Secret Gardens’ nestle behind the famous street’s
high tenements and date right back to the 17th century. Many
locals had no idea the gardens existed until recent years
(the perfect place to settle with a book for a quiet read,
just meters from throngs of unsuspecting people).
Hidden beneath the Royal Mile lies one of Edinburgh’s deepest
secrets – The Real
Mary Kings Close. This warren of hidden ‘closes’ is where
real people lived, worked and died before being covered for
centuries, until it opened in 2003. Now an award-winning
five-star attraction, The Real Mary’s King Close allows visitors
to see a historically accurate interpretation of life in
Edinburgh from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. A unique
and historic site, it is a dark, underground time capsule thought
by many visitors to be haunted by its former inhabitants (we
may need to call the Ghostbusters).
If shopping is what you love, wander to the West End, the
Grassmarket (pedestrian friendly, it is located directly
southeast of Edinburgh Castle) and Thistle and Rose Street, known
for its charming stores which are lined by cobbled streets the
area filled with high-end gifts, international designer names and
fabulous vintage finds. Castle or Distillery tours, exploring the hidden gems off the
beaten path: your time in Edinburgh will be an exhilarating,
memorable day. Back on board, be sure and look me up - I’d love
to hear how you spent your time in Edinburgh! Hasta la bye bye!
Q Dee Serkin is a travel writer who specializes in destinations,
culture, travel tips and advice. She is dedicated to inspiring
travel in all and loves to share her adventures with others.
Contact her at Denyce.firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her site at https://travelovers.us
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