The Dunedin of the North

Not surprisingly, following last night’s extravaganza, we had a slow start this morning. We woke up to a sun-filled room. Mugs of tea and breakfast at home, making the most of our welcome basket – eggs and toast with homemade marmalade.

Our AirBnB is so comfortable and homely that we could have spent the morning in – reading and chatting.

We had plenty of walking ahead of us, so eventually we made a start!

Walking all the way up Leith Walk, taking in antique shops, galleries and shops selling Scottish handmade things. We’re both in love with the stunning architecture here and kept prodding each other whenever we came across a gem. We’ve been chatting about the architecture of Edinburgh a lot since we got here yesterday – how preserved it is and the sense of history emanating from it. We’re guessing that the major difference with London is due to how much London was bombed during the Second World War. Edinburgh reminds us of Newcastle – big imposing buildings, with many details.

And obviously, we compared what we saw with Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South. The man in charge of the building of Dunedin was instructed to follow the characteristics of Edinburgh, complete with street names. The main difference I could see between the two towns was the amount of sunshine we had yesterday!

After the obligatory flat white stop (excellent coffees from Artisan Roast), we walked to Greyfriars Kirkyard. The graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk is incredibly photogenic. Located in the middle of the old town, it is also famous for being the resting place of Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog that guarded its former master’s grave in the graveyard for 14 years.

From there, we walked to St Giles Cathedral. The cathedral has stunning stained glass windows. We also wanted to check the carved angel playing the bagpipes but sadly the Thistle Chapel was closed and the helpful man at the front desk wasn’t sure when it would open.

We made time for the Shackleton photography exhibition at the National Library of Scotland. The images on display were taken from Frank Hurley’s negatives and they give a real inside into what life was like for these brave men stranded for months and months in the ice.

For a little while after that we walked up and down Royal Mile, and popped in and out of many of the closes – narrow alleys – leading off the Royal Mile.

Royal Mile itself was very busy with tourists. The shops seem to be selling either toot, woollen goods or whisky.

At 2pm, we met our friend outside the National Museum of Scotland and had a great lunch at Tower. We then went up to the roof terrace for spectacular views of the Edinburgh skyline, and especially the castle.

What followed was quite special. We spent approximately 40 minutes in the museum. We had two things on our list to check out – the Lewis Chessmen and the ‘light-filled atrium of the Grand Gallery’. But what made the experience so good was the special tour our friend gave us – insider knowledge! From bringing the Lewis Chessmen to life to pointing out the other highlights of the gallery – Dolly the Sheep; the oldest locomotive ever; some amazing Alexander McQueen shoes (emulating goat hooves) to a Mantua dress, and a Lego replica of the Museum. And finally, a personal introduction to the Galloway Hoard – ‘the richest collection of rare and unique Viking-age objects ever found in Britain.’ The Museum is currently fundraising to save the Galloway Hoard for the nation. And that’s a good cause.

Our friend had one more treat for us – the Dovecot Studios, just a few minutes away from the National Museum of Scotland. This incredible fine art tapestry studio is located in a renovated Victorian pool building. You can view the works in progress from a gallery. That was quite special, and I particularly enjoyed the Daughters of Penelope exhibition, and especially the works of Caroline Dear, made of grass from the Isle of Sky.

We walked home – via Grassmarket and the Scottish Parliament. A glass of white wine and some olives… and it was time to set off again.

We walked down to Leith shore. At The Ship on the Shore, we enjoyed terrific cocktails. We were tempted by the Mars bar martini…. No, not really. Andy settled for a Glenmorangie-based cocktail and I had a superb margarita.

Our table at Martin Wishart, just a few minutes walk from The Ship on the Shore, was booked for 8pm. We opted for the vegetarian eight course tasting menu, with the matching flight of wine. As the courses followed each other, we oohed and aahed, and sometimes meh-ed. The food always demanding a strong reaction.

We walked home, and settled in the lounge to talk the day over with a small glass of Bunnahabhain 12 year old.

Another late one!