If you want to read the post on Day 4, click here.
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We took the early morning flight from London Luton Airport to Edinburgh, Scotland. We booked a flight with EasyJet, one of UK’s budget airlines. The flight cost us about £150 or roughly P10K for a roundtrip airfare for two, including insurance and two pieces of check in luggage. We arrived at the airport at 6am, a full hour before our scheduled departure. It was a chilly morning and as we walk from the taxi drop off point to the airport entrance, we could see puffs of cool mist with every breath. We soon realized that we should have allowed ourselves at least an hour and a half before the departure. By the time we cleared the final security check, our flight was already boarding and we had to take a brisk 10-minute walk to our gate.

It was an uneventful flight. We purchased a light meal of potato chips, one sandwich that we split in two, and a small bottle of mineral water. Soon enough, we touched down and set foot in a much colder Edinburgh. We took the airport taxi and asked to be dropped off at Apex International Hotel, our accommodation for one night before heading off to the Highlands. Since it was very early, we expected that our room will not be ready yet but we hoped the hotel could keep our luggage. Fortunately, the front desk staff did offer to take in our luggage while we go around the city before our 2pm check in time.

We decided to immediately head to the Edinburgh Castle (check Wikipedia entry here). I already purchased our tickets online (at £14 each) and it opens at 9am so we were good to go. It was very near our hotel, but it required going up a steep flight of stairs. I had to stop once in a while to catch our breath. By the time we got to the castle gates, people were starting to pour in.

The Edinburgh Castle shot from the street below (photo by Ariel)


Taking the stairs up to the castle and pretending to stop for photos
but really, I just need to stop! (photo by Ariel) 
Going into the castle
The gate into Edinburgh Castle

While there were a lot of tourists, there were no lines to the ticket counter, nor to the main entrance. We found ourselves leisurely strolling inside the castle grounds.

One of the many canons around the castle
The canon with a clear view of intruders from the sea beyond the city walls
The walled city of Edinburgh (photo by Ariel)
Ariel playing with a big toy
Exploring the perimeter (photo by Ariel)
A hole for the canon
Enjoying the view
Ariel with a guide

More weapons

A more modern weapon
New life between the centuries old rocks

After a while, we saw a cafe and decided to have a light meal. Ariel and I each got a cup of coffee and shared a slice of apple-walnut cake. We took a table by the window which gave us a breathtaking view of Edinburgh City below.

Inside the cafe, enjoying out breakfast (photo by Ariel)
Enjoying the lovely view
Still early in the day and already having a blast! (photo by Ariel)
Inside a guard post
No idea who that guy is, but he was important
enough to get a statue so might as well pose
beside him
By the castle wall
Another shot of this beautiful city – it was a beautiful sunny day but
very cold for Southeast Asians like us.
With a statue of a Scotsman in a traditional outfit
Papogi lang
Papogi ulit. :)
Can you believe it?
No idea what building this is but it’s beautiful
in a very scary way – think horror movies. :)
This is a very small chapel inside the castle grounds.
Inside the chapel – only a few people can fit inside
Stained glass window of Saint Margaret’s Chapel
At the Falconry area
Hedwig, is that you?
The falconer (if that’s a word)
This bird of prey is huge! About 3 meters with its wings wide open.
This is the 2nd smallest owl in the world (don’t ask me
what kind this is –  I forgot!), only as big as it’s female handler’s hand
and is 6 years old already – I thought it was still a baby.
Just showing off my red jacket – haha! (photo by Ariel)
Another solo (photo by Ariel)
Inside a dungeon (photo by Ariel)
One of my favorite photos in the trip – taken inside a
dungeon with a small window behind him in this photo.
There was a hole on the roof and I asked Ariel to stand
directly below that hole and look at it. I took the photo
from an elevated platform. :)
One of the many statues inside the castle – not sure whose coronation this is. 
Lunch break (photo by Ariel)
Enjoying our Coke while waiting for our lunch (photo by Ariel)
Very yummy mushroom soup – looks like dinuguan!
I opted for fish with mashed potato and what looks like giant capers
Ariel got the pasta with mushrooms and chicken wrapped in bacon – very tasty!
When we got out of the courtyard, we saw this –
four ladies in medieval gowns dancing

This is an Easter performance
The gowns looked heavy
They look very regal
Ang lalake sa bintana

We spent five hours exploring the castle. It was a tiring, but leisurely tour. We were happy not to be rushed by a tour guide. We took our sweet time going around, taking photos when allowed to do so, and just taking the scene in. By 2pm, we were ready to relax a bit in our hotel. Apex International is just a few blocks away from the Castle. We got the promo rate and paid only £81 for a room that normally costs over £200. The room was spacious, and had two double beds. We got the usual amenities plus free wifi and calls within UK.

The beds were very comfy

The modern bathroom was also spacious and clean.
What came as a surprise was this beautiful view of the Edinburgh Castle.

We rested for a bit and then by 4pm, we headed out to explore the rest of the city on foot. First, we checked out Princes Street to do a bit of shopping. Actually, I just wanted to check if I can find a good pair of boots. In our frustration, stores were already closing when we got there. Only a few were open and by 5:30pm, almost all of them were closed already. So, we decided to walk uphill to the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is actually a road that is about a mile long which starts from the Edinburgh Castle and ends in the Holyrood Palace also known as Palace of the Holyroodhouse (see Wikipedia entry here), the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. We did not go to the Holyroodhouse Palace and was not able to take photos but you can check out images here.

The train station
Walking to the Royal Mile
I booked a tour as a surprise for Ariel. It’s called Ghost Tour (£13 each) and it’s a night walking tour around Edinburgh. We got it from Mercat Tours and it promised to be entertaining, informative, and creepy. The meeting place was at the Mercat Cross along Parliament Square. At 6:30, the tour participants started arriving. We were met by a caped guide. By this time, the cold got worse and I had to   put the camera in the bag, wear gloves and wrap my arms tighter against my body.
By 7pm, we started walking. Our guide filled us with stories (real stories!) about the olden days, how justice was served by cutting people’s hands or nailing their ears on wooden planks. Of course with death comes rumors of roaming spirits. The highlight was a tour down the Underground Vaults. It was very dark, lighted only by a few candles. I had to walk ever so slowly, lest I fall again and break my ankle like I did in Cambodia. :) Our guide filled us with the history of the underground vaults, how they were used in the past, how they were discovered and are now being used again. Of course, he also shared rumors of spirits roaming the depths of the tunnel system. After a while, half of the participants who only paid for the walking tour left us, while those of us who paid for the full tour continued to the Mercat Tours chambers where we were served drinks (I opted for orange juice while Ariel got some red wine). More stories were shared as well as relics found in the vaults and some kind of blueprint showing the extent of the underground network.
The Mercat Cross

Our tour ended at 9pm and we got back at the hotel shortly after where I met my online classmate (from Karen Russell’s Snapshots of a Good Life), Clare Telford, at the hotel restaurant. We talked photography for a bit over coffee and I got to try out her 24-70mm lens and her Expodisc. Cool!

(photo by Ariel)
So cool to meet an online friend halfway across the world! (photo by Ariel)
The Edinburgh Castle at night, viewed from our hotel room (photo by Ariel)

Thanks for looking!

Up next: Our 3-Day Isle of Skye tour! Click here for Day 6.

Written by Alby Laran

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