They Distilled The Whisky, But No One Expected Edinburgh, Scotland Would Be A Top-Notch – Firth Of Forth

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Port of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland

Long before the dawn of railroad in Scotland, the Port of Leith has already been Edinburgh‘s port. It was the entry point of travelers into Scotland. The Port of Leith lies on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. This is north of the city center of Edinburgh. It is an enclosed deep-water port which handles dry bulk, passengers, break bulk and offshore cargo. Port of Leith is also used by fishing vessels as well as yachts and occasionally by warships. The Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed at the Port of Leith.

About The Firth of Forth:

Map showing Edinburgh with the Firth of Forth body of water.

This is an estuary (or firth) of the River Forth in Scotland. It drains out to the North Sea. This inlet is a broad funnel-shaped fjord that has been formed by the Forth Glacier during the last glacial period. It usually has a strong current that reach as far as Stirling ( last coastal town of River Forth in Scotland). On both banks of the Firth of Forth are towns as well as petrochemical plants, oil rigs and the Port of Leith. It can be crossed by four bridges. A different road bridge, the Queensferry Crossing links the towns of North Queensferry with South Queensferry.

On Edinburgh:

Pronounced as “Edin-Bor-reh”, this is the capital of Scotland. It’s adjacent to the Firth of Forth near the North Sea. Edinburgh, one of Europe‘s most lively cities, has a spectacular landscape with an immense area of medieval and classical architecture. The Scots sometimes call their beloved city “Auld Reekie”, “Athens of the North” or “Great Britain’s Other Eye”.

Built on top of an extinct volcano, a city of dark, hazy buildings with an imposing castle at the middle separating the Old Town from the New Town…it’s almost perfect. Because most of the time it has a wet and windy weather. But when the sun does come out occasionally, the smoky buildings glow up into orange and pink. Aye (yes; pronounced as “eye), what a glorious sight but you have be mindful of the unpredictable weather. And you have to wear a good walking shoes, it’s a hilly, cobbled-stone streets out there.

If you visit Edinburgh in spring or summer, then mind for its fog. It can shrouds the city for days into “black as the Earl of Hell’s waistcoat” as they say in Scotland. But nae (no, pronounced as “nye”) the locals call it “haar” not fog, my dearie. And the Scots use different words for some other things. “Wee dram” is a measure for a shot of their whisky, remember that. “Scran” means food and a “close” is an alley. “Loch” is a lake, “law” is a hill and a “kirk” means a Church. When you explore the Grassmarket area where the red light district is located, it is referred as “pubic triangle”. And if you see a business with a sauna sign, it’s actually a brothel. So there, Edinburgh “can be twee, small and staid” but it’s pure barry, eh.

Straight from Wales, we sailed for 18 hours to Edinburgh with the Knock An in March, 2001 for crude oil discharging. Mr. Olsen is half-Scottish, his mother hails from Edinburgh. That explains some the names of his fleet which are derived from places in Scotland like Muir-sea, Nevin-Ben Nevin mountain, Dun-fort and Clune-his mom’s surname. Edinburgh, it has both the grandeur of a large city and a glamor of a little town. A stylish place but with a good grip on its heritage. When you think of Edinburgh, what come to the mind are bagpipes, Harry Potter, universities and whisky joints. Often dubbed as “Athens of the North” this Scottish city has more than a few secrets to share. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch in some other things. Ready to find out why this craggy capital is such a damn, bonny lass?

The Edinburgh Castle

They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch with its iconic landmark, Edinburgh Castle. At some point it was the residence of Scottish monarchs. It is now used as a museum and military base at the same time.Standing at 443 ft. above sea level, the castle towers over Edinburgh on a volcanic cragg named Castle Rock. With tales of crowns, pirates, and witches this is a must-see when you are in Edinburgh. James Charles Stuart, King of Scotland (as James VI) then later King of England and Ireland (James I) was born at Edinburgh Castle in 1566. He reigned for 22 years and sponsored for the translation of the Holy Bible into English. That translation is what we know today as King James version. Edinburgh Castle endured 28 sieges in the history of the UK. And if you are brave enough, the castle is believed to be haunted by ghosts especially that of Lone Piper. He was allegedly a young boy who disappeared in the underground tunnels while playing the bagpipe. Visitors at the castle claim of hearing the sound of a bagpipe music from out of nowhere.

High Street: Royal Mile

Perhaps every visitor at Edinburgh has walked by the Royal Mile. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch on this high street. This is a mile stretch from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace (hence the name, Royal Mile). The historic heart of Edinburgh and the place where you will discover shops and restaurants. Explore the closes and enjoy the views of the Old Town down to the Firth of Forth.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

When Her Majesty, The Queen is in town, she stays at Holyrood. This is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch with the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Simply called Holyrood by the locals it has been in use by British monarchs since the 16th century. It was first built as a monastery by King David I of Scotland in 1128. But the most intriguing royal who stayed at Holyrood was Mary, Queen of Scots. For it was in this palace that she married her two husbands. Her secretary (whom she allegedly was fond of) David Riczio was also killed at Holyroodhouse by Lord Darnley, 1st husband of Mary. These days, when the Queen is around (from the end of June to early July) Her Majesty holds investitures in the Great Gallery, audiences in the Morning Drawing Room and a garden party of 8,000 guests from all strata of Scotland society. There is also a tradition called Ceremony of the Keys that takes place when the Queen visits Holyrood. This ceremony has been practiced since 1822. Located at the far end of the Royal Mile, you too can pay a visit to Holyroodhouse at any time of the year. Except of course when Her Majesty is in the house.

Try The Scotch Whisky Experience

They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch to its Scotch Whisky Experience showroom. Scotch whisky, national icon, a drink unique to Scotland but enjoyed the world over. A passion that dates back as early as 1494, the Scotch whisky (Johnnie Walker, James Chivas both originated from Scotland) is an important part of Scotland‘s identity. At Castlehill, adjacent to the promenade of Edinburgh Castle you can have the chance to explore the history and development of their whisky. In 1987, about 19 Scotch whisky distillery owners joined together to put up The Scotch Whisky Experience. And in May 1988, the attraction was officially opened at the former premises of Castlehill School. The Scotch Whisky Experience is an amazing trip into a replica of a distillery. Guides will take you on a virtual journey to see Scotland‘s whisky producing regions, their history and how they blend this trending spirit. Afterwards you will be rewarded with a tasting of your chosen dram.

Choose your dram, or shot at The Scotch Whisky Experience.

Old Town vs. New Town

View to Edinburgh’s Old Town

The moment you set foot at Edinburgh, the first thing you will notice are its two distinct areas. The Old Town consists the medieval part while The New Town is the area developed from the 18th century to the present. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch on its stunning quarters. The blending of these two contrasting parts of the city is what gives Edinburgh a unique character. The Old Town stretches along a high ridge from Edinburgh Castle to Holyroodhouse Palace. It is a network of closes and hidden courtyards. At its heart is the Royal Mile. The New Town (north of Edinburgh Castle) is a grid of 18th-19th centuries beautifully restored buildings . George Street is its main hub which is filled with designer boutiques as well as hip bars and restaurants. Combined both sections are the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Edinburgh.

George Street, main heart of Edinburgh’s The New Town

The Real Mary King’s Close

What life was under Edinburgh’s Rel Mary King’s Close

If you want to experience what was Edinburgh looked like during the 17th century then go down under to The Real Mary King’s Close. Beneath the hustle and bustle of 21st century Royal Mile lies a secret and surprising part of Scotland‘s history. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch on its little ‘dark secret’. The Real Mary King’s Close is a top-rated attraction in Edinburgh made up of underground alleys (or closes) and narrow streets where people lived during the 17th century. This area was once a thriving community where Scots lived, worked and died during the outbreak of the medieval pandemic, The Black Death. Mary King was a real person, a Burgess (an elected official) in the 1630s who had properties at the close that bears her name. When Edinburgh expanded in the 1700s, the close was covered and buildings were built using the underground community as foundation. The hidden alleys and medieval settlement were untouched for 250 years. Now at modern times Mary King’s Close has been opened to visitors to have a glimpse of what life was for Edinburgh’s 17th century underground residents.

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Anyone?

And of course a trip to Edinburgh is not complete without tasting Scotland‘s national dish, the haggis. This is a savory pudding made up of lamb’s heart, liver and lungs. They are minced and mixed with onion, salt, spices and beef’s fat (suet). The mixture is stuffed into the sheep’s belly and boiled. While haggis is available all year round in Edinburgh, it is especially cooked during the Burns Night. This is a celebration of the life and works of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns. It is observed every January 25 and the ‘Burn’s supper’ includes also the neeps (turnips) and tatties (potatoes), both mashed and of course with a dram of their good ‘ole Scotch whisky. They distilled the whisky but no one expected Edinburgh, Scotland would be a top-notch on their iconic haggis. You can also try their haggis ice cream or haggis crisps if you don’t like the real haggis.

From its breathtaking landscape and literary (home of J.K. Rowling, author of Harry Potter as well as the first James Bond, Sean Connery) history, to its intriguing cuisine and historic castles, Edinburgh has it all. Once you’ve been in the city, you find it hard to leave. It is as if your soul belongs there and start to believe Edinburgh is magical. This is a city you have to visit one day to find out for yourself if you are also bewitched at her charm like I was twenty years ago. Guid cheerio the nou. Keep the heid an’ cairry oan, aye?

References: Wikipedia,