This morning we anchored in South Queensferry (for Edinburgh Scotland). After tendering from the ship to Hawes Pier, as the Koningsdam is too large to fit under the Forth Railway Bridge, we made our way to the Scottish Rail Station at Dalmeny. This involved exiting the port authority which was adjacent to the Forth Railway Bridge, turning left, walking about .2 miles, climbing 110 stairs, then proceeding down another narrow asphalt path about .3 of a mile. The Dalmeny Railway Station sits behind the building on the corner of the next road that you will cross. We entered the station and purchased two round trip tickets to Edinburgh at 8 pounds each. As there are two rail lines, the Edinburgh train required you to cross the rails using the walkway to enter the train on the adjacent platform. The journey to Edinburgh was about 20 minutes and made two other stops before arriving at Edinburgh. Since the rail line terminates at the Edinburgh station you cannot go wrong. Please note the path is unlit so when returning after dark you will need a flashlight.
After exiting the station, we wondered into the adjacent East Princess Street Gardens. At the park a man was feeding the squirrels who were taking peanuts from his hand and quickly burying them about the park. Once we got our bearings, we headed down toward The Mound street and up towards Edinburgh Castle. This was quite a climb to say the least as the castle sits atop a craggy rock shelf. We joined the lengthy queue for castle tickets which took about 30 minutes.
With ticket in hand we proceeded through the castle gates and into the land of Edinburgh Castle. Upon arrival in the castle we noticed that a Free Castle Tour was beginning in a matter of minutes so we joyfully joined in. The tour was given by a knowledgeable member of the staff. We learned that Edinburgh Castle had been burnt down, rebuilt and besieged many times throughout its turbulent history. That many of those who besieged the castle came by way of the Firth of Forth river. The castle fires a gun every day at one o’clock as a time sync to passing sailors. We were told that in the days before modernization, sailors on the nearby shores had no way to know the hour of the day.
At the top of the castle climb is St. Margaret’s Chapel built in 1130 as dedication to Queen Margaret herself. This is the oldest standing structure in the castle grounds and was most likely part of a great stone tower. Near to the tower is housed the Scottish Crown Jewels which were used in the Coronation of Queen Mary of Scots at the age of 9 months. Also seen was the Stone of Destiny which is an oblong block of red sandstone that was used for centuries in the coronation of the monarchs of Scotland, and later the monarchs of England and the Kingdom of Great Britain. This sacred red stone (a.k.a. the Kingmakers Stone) was stolen during the Wars of Independence in 1296 by Edward I of England and taken to Westminster Abbey in London. The stone was returned after 600 years in exile and now rests again in Edinburgh Castle.
After our visit to the castle we walked the Royal Mile “ a wee bit “. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival was in full force. We passed many displays of artistic expression, street performers and many others vying to woo us to their performances later that evening. My favorite was Comedy in the Back of a Van whereas a van was sitting on the street with its side door open waiting for the next participant.
We returned to the pier and the ship for transportation to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We departed the pier by Motorcoach at 7pm and arrived by 8pm to join the rather large Tattoo queue. After waiting in the queue about 15 minutes, the gates opened up and we were fast inside. We were sitting in the pie area front corner Section 6 Row X. The Tattoo included performances from several countries including Scotland, England, the United States, New Zealand, Jordan, Norway and Nepal. The show lasted three hours, included a display of fireworks at the end and possibly the coolest feature of all: The Illumination of Edinburgh Castle. At the end of the Tattoo we departed down Princess Street with 9,500 others, a large crowd headed down the Royal Mile and back into Edinburgh.
Cruise Port: South Queensferry for Edinburgh, Scotland
Steps logged: 18,230