Edinburgh Day 3 – Linlithgow 

One of my favorite things to do while visiting Europe is to hop on a train and take a day trip to another town. Rail travel is so simple and affordable in Europe that it makes it quite easy. In the past, we’ve visited Provins in France, Enkhuizen in The Netherlands, Bruges in Belgium, and on our visit to Scotland we decided to hop on ScotRail and visit Linlithgow.

   
    
   
Linlithgow Palace sits on a hill overlooking a loch and has been a royal residence since the 1100’s. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born there. 

  
    
 
In 1746 a fire destroyed much of the palace and it has remained uninhabited ever since. 

Tim and I thoroughly enjoyed clamboring around in the ruins, exploring the palace – from the wine cellars to the Great Hall to the King’s bedchamber and the towers. King James IV’ beautiful fountain still stands in the courtyard and the massive fireplace in the Great Hall is still intact and quite splendid. 

   
  
The Great Hall. Long tables would have been positioned down the length of the Hall, tapestries would have hung on the stone walls, and statues would have sat on the pedestals above the tapestries. 

    
    

  
    
    
  
 
This large fireplace in the kitchen would have held spits for cooking meats. There was also an oven for cooking breads and an additional fireplace. 

   
The imposing and massive fireplace in The Great Hall

    
The chapel

    
 
St. Michael’s Church sits next to Linlithgow Palace. The original, old part of the church was consecrated in 1242 (although before that it had been a Druid site of worship) and the “newer” part of the church was built in the 1500’s. Oliver Cromwell occupied Linlithgow Palace in 1650 and his cavalry and horses occupied the church. There are still marks in the stone walls from where his men sharpened their swords on the walls. 

 
 
  

Grooves in the wall from Cromwell’s men sharpening their swords. 

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
 
   
 
It was a fantastic day. History + ruins = happiness. Even after being destroyed by fire and being exposed to the elements for centuries, Linlithgow Palace is magnificent. 

That evening we decided to do one of the many walking ghost tours in Edinburgh. 

   
 
Honestly, it wasn’t really that scary. Slightly creepy at times, yes, but also fun and very informative. We learned about (and walked through) the vaults. We also walked through Greyfriars Kirkyard and Tomb of Sir George Mackenzie and the Covenanter’s prison.

Edinburgh, Day Two 

Day two in Edinburgh was another gorgeous, sunny day. We walked to Waverly Bridge and took one of the tour buses for a “hop on-hop off” tour of the city…

   
 
The Balmoral Hotel, where J.K. Rowling wrote the last Harry Potter book in room 555. 

   

    
 
   
    
   
   
Arthur’s Seat in the background…more about that later…

 
Holyrood Palace,Queen Elizabeth’s residence when she is in Scotland. 

   

    
   
After the bus tour, we walked over to the Scott Monument, where Tim climbed the 287 steps to the top and I sat on a bench and drank a diet coke and people watched 💁🏻. 

   
   
And then…we hiked up Arthur’s Seat. 

Arthur’s Seat is another extinct volcano, which also overlooks the city. It was a gorgeous, sunny day…it was incredible. 

   

 
Calton Hill
   
 
Views of Holyrood Palace and Calton Hill

   
Holyrood Palace and Calton Hill in background

 
Calton Hill

   
Holyrood Palace, with the Abbey in back. 

   
Finally, we toured the Real Mary King’s Close, which was really cool and interesting and informative. I love learning little “factoids” such as…

During the foul pestilence (plague) doctors (who often weren’t really doctors) wore beak like masks filled with herbs to try to fend off the plague…and that’s where the phrase “visiting the quack” came from. (The bird like masks…)

Also, I learned that during the plague, people were dying so quickly that they just buried bodies as quickly as possible. Sometimes they made mistakes and thought a person was dead, when in fact they were only unconscious. Apparently, this happened so often that they began burying bodies with a string attached to a little bell above ground. If an unconscious person was mistakenly buried, they could tug on the string and it would ring the bell (and hopefully someone would hear it and dig them out!) From this came the expression “dead ringer!”