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Tourists In Edinburgh

Pretty much ever since I moved to Edinburgh I’ve been wanting to go on a guided tour in the Old Town, but just never quite made it. We did go on one of those ghost tours in the underground vaults when I was still living in London and only visiting, but we had to interrupt the tour as I thought I was going to faint due to lack of oxygen (and perhaps my hangover had something to do with it too…)

However, last Saturday I told Matthew that we’re going on a free 2,5 hour tour of Edinburgh (I might’ve left out the 2,5 h part though haha). The tour isn’t really free though as you are expected to tip the guide who isn’t getting paid for the whole thing – they make that very clear. But the guide and the tour were excellent, so didn’t mind doing that at all. Sandemans is the company running the free tours as well as other tours if you’re interested!


I was determined to take as many photos as possible, which almost caused us to lose the rest of the group on several occasions…And as I wanted to focus on what the guide was saying too the quality of the photos suffered…This is our group (I got the photo off Sandemans Facebook page) – can you find us? 🙂


Bet you can’t guess how many floors the City Chambers building has…The correct answer is 12(!)


The artist who was working on this statue felt he wasn’t being paid enough – and when he didn’t receive more money he put pigs ears on the horse.


This is the Mercat Cross where public announcements have been announced for centuries – and still is. When baby George was born they announced it here as well. However, when baby Charlotte was born they didn’t….


I don’t know how it’s possible that I’ve lived in Scotland for 2,5 years without knowing that Scotland’s national animal is a unicorn?! This is at the top of the Mercat Cross – and I’m pretty sure I would never have noticed it if I hadn’t attended a guided tour!


Parliament square. Matthew decided to dress up as a turtle.


St Giles Cathedral is pretty amazing as you can see. It’s not actually a cathedral as it doesn’t have a bishop – so High Kirk of Edinburgh is a better name for it. The guy on the horse is Charles II of Scotland.


Our South African guide who’s been guiding here in the Burgh for 5 years definitely knew his stuff.


We didn’t go inside, but will definitely do that next time I’m in the area!


It was freezing and stupidly neither Matthew nor I were dressed appropriately.


The Royal Mile connects Edinburgh Castle with Holyrood Palace at the bottom – the official residence of the Queen in Scotland.


So cold my nose was about to fall off – where is my Finnish sisu?!


This is David Hume on the Royal Mile – a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist.


Another detail I haven’t noticed is the big toe that you’re supposed to rub for good luck. It’s quite ironic actually as Hume was a rationalist and didn’t believe in such nonsense…I didn’t touch the toe – mainly because it’s probably full of germs haha!


This is Gladstone’s Land, a 17th century high-tenement house (which means multi-occupancy building according to google) originally built in 1550. It’s been restored and furnished by the National Trust of Scotland, so you can actually visit the building. Will put that on my to do-list for sure!


If you’re after harris tweed, cashmere, knitwear or anything to do with kilts and tartans, Royal Mile is the place to come to!


This pretty Gothic building is called the Hub (nope, it’s not a church!) and hosts many shows during the Festival as well as weddings throughout the year.


And here we have the Castle from a more unusual angle. It’s built on volcanic rock that has been shaped by the ice age, leaving a tail behind which is now the Royal Mile.

Grassmarket area used to be were the poor lived, but now it’s a sought after area with lots of pubs and shops. The square was were a lot of hangings took place, and the names of many pubs there reflect this historical fact.


I hate to admit that during half-time a very cold Matthew managed to talk a very cold me into ditching the rest of the tour and go somewhere warm for a drink instead. We used the baby-card…Apparently the second half of the tour was more story-orientated, so at least we got 1,5 hours of pure history when attending the first half 🙂

Edinburgh is a city full of fascinating stories that I really haven’t “taken advantage of” before – which is a shame as I do think that your surroundings become so much more interesting when you know a little more about it. Think it’s finally time to pay Edinburgh Castle a visit too!

How well do you know the history of your own village/town/city?

x Nina x

Nina Äikäs

<p>I’m a Swedish-speaking Finn who left Finland for the lovely and thrilling London town in 2011, but after meeting an equally lovely and thrilling Scotsman I somehow now find myself in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. In February 2015 our gorgeous little girl arrived and made us a happy family of three. Follow my blog and get to know us!</p>

  • shazza

    I didn’t realise the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal and how funny about the horse statues pigs ears! my town is apparently haunted by boggurts that look like goat men. Never seen one thankfully!

    November 27, 2015 at 5:52 pm
  • Coombe Mill - Fiona

    I’ve never been to Edinburgh but it looks stunning. You’d get very fit working at the city Chambers! #abitofeverything

    December 1, 2015 at 11:10 am
  • Jade Munro

    I love this! We have just spent a year living on the English/Scottish border for my husband’s job and I managed to have a fabulous girls weekend in Edinburgh. It is, honestly, one of the most beautiful cities in the world! The architecture, the culture, the history… it is just all so magnificent. I hope we’ll be able to pop up to the Christmas market before we leave for our next posting, we have heard wonderful things about it. Thanks so much for all of the tour information, I’ll definitely look ‘up’ more when we are next there.

    December 1, 2015 at 11:34 am
  • Cheryl @ ReimerandRuby

    Since I moved here in Scotland about 7 yrs ago, I have been to a few places but have not been on that guided tour bus, would have liked to try it, however my husband being Scottish is not interested with it. It’s nice to more of the history of the place/building rather than just look around. Lovely post and beautiful photos too! #abitofeverything

    December 1, 2015 at 7:26 pm
  • Kirsty

    Great post!
    We are going to Edinburgh for the first time next week.
    Is there anywhere you would recommend?

    KT xo.

    December 1, 2015 at 8:37 pm
  • Agent Spitback

    What stunning photos! I always love exploring the historical context of a place. Edinburgh looks absolutely lovely! Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything….and the interesting bits of information —I didn’t know about the unicorn as well!

    December 3, 2015 at 10:14 pm
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