One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Day 10 – Edinburgh and Johnshaven, Scotland

That’s it. I’ve found my happy place and I’m not coming home. Lol we live in Edinburgh now… Send our stuff over. Don’t worry, I know you guys love the blog… I’ll keep writing from here. 🙂

This city is just amazing. Miles and miles of historic buildings, statues, parks, cathedrals. You should see the number of restaurants that I was drooling over, too.

Seriously… I am enamored. Somewhere in my five year plan I just added getting back to Edinburgh for a week. Or moving. One or the other. Haha

We walked out of our amazing apartment, which is located 2 blocks from Edinburgh Castle down what is called Lady Stair’s Close.

Edinburgh has tons of “closes” off the Main Street through the city. These alleyways and courtyards were usually named after the businesses and vendors that were situated there (like Fishmarket Close) or after the most prominant citizen that lived or owned the close. 



It was very uncommon for women to be the richest occupant off the close… So Lady Stair was a very uncommon lady 😉


This is the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh. It was the view from our bedroom. 


The spiral stairs up to our “tower” apartment 


We walked outside and saw the Scottish military lined up and practicing for a ceremony on Monday. The lady in St Giles cathedral told us that the Scottish pariament is being dissolved today… But with tradition, they don’t have the closing ceremony until Monday because historically, that’s how long it took a messenger on horseback to reach Edimburgh from London. 

(I have a video of the bagpipe playing but can’t figure out how to upload it from the phone apps…)

Speaking of St Giles Cathedral…what an amazing cathedral! 




These pictures were from Thistle Chapel. This is where the queen comes and performs the Knighting ceremony for new Knights of the Thistle- Scotland’s Order of Knights. The Knights of the Thistle are the second oldest order (after Kights of the Garter) and the oldest in Scotland.

The Queen knighted Prince William a Knight of the Thistle after his 30th birthday in 2012 just before her Diamond Jubilee.

The chapel is amazing. Gothic doesn’t even begin to describe the intricacies in carvings. I’m not even sure there is anyone alive these days with the kind of skills needed to create these scenes again. Just spectacular.


The molding between each Knight’s seat had various animal carvings.


Queen Elizabeth II’s seat during the ceremonies of the Order.   


Apparantly Yoda is a Knight of the Thistle, too. This guy was camped out levatating on the side of the cathedral. Lol  

Outside of St Giles stands the Mercat Cross.

I only have pictures from last night, but this structure is where all summons and royal news would have been read before printed newspapers. Everyone would gather around this to wait and hear the news of the city. It has been around since the 1300s. It was revamped in the early 1800s and moved from its original location a few feet away off of the main thoroughfare. A brick inlay shows its original position.



There is a statue dedicated to Adam Smith. He is said to be the “father of modern economics” and quite literally wrote the book of free market capitalism.


Across the street is the Deacon Brodie tavern.

If you’ve ever heard of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, then you already sort of know Deacon Brodie. He was a very respected cabinetmaker in Edinburgh in the late 1700s… Everyone who was anyone wanted his furniture and he was very well-to-do. He was so respected, he was crowned Deacon of the city… However, like every good politician, he had some dark secrets. He had a gambling problem and he just liked the thrill he got from stealing. He used his position to gain info on the securities of all of Edinburgh’s elite and used to make wax copies of their keys. Quite the scheme he had! Until he didn’t. Lol

One of his accomplices ratted him out when the Crown offered a “King’s Pardon” after they robbed a bank and he was hung. Rumor has it that it was on the gallows he designed and built. How is that for irony?

Robert Louis Stevenson- famous Scottish author- owned a cabinet armoire made by Brodie and hence was very interested in this man who had led such a double life, thus inspiring the book, Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde.

The cabinet of Stevenson’s is on display in the aforementioned Writer’s Museum that we didn’t have time to go into.


Next along the Royal Mile walk was a statue of David Hume. He was a philosopher in the 1700s and nicknamed “the patron saint of Atheists” due to his beliefs. Ironically, people rub his big toe for good luck – something he would have thought completely ridiculous.

On happiness: “When we reflect on the shortness and uncertainty of life, how despicable seem all our pursuits of happiness.” 


It was freezing and baby was angry so we got in our car and did a drive-by of the castle. Edinburgh castle:



We drove through Victoria St- definitely the coolest view of all of the streets of Edinburgh



We drove over to Princes Street to walk the shopping district, from here even more statues and monuments could be seen.

The Scot Memorial




A random unicorn. Lol


We ate lunch at The Dome- a “somewhat too-fancy for my toddler and my yoga pants” style lunch room 🙂

The Internet and my mother’s friend Christine (who is from Scotland)  said the Haggis Burger from the Dome was not to be missed. So miss it we did not. Haggis is quite good! I can’t wait to have it again.


After full bellies we left Edinburgh headed just an hour or so out of town for the evening…

Since we had an hour or so to kill, I decided we should see the first item from tomorrow’s itinerary- Dunnottar Castle. (This also means more sleep in the morning for Erin…see what I did there? Haha)

This castle has had a huge history… But the best and shortest story relates back to that bastard Oliver Cromwell. (Remember him from Ireland? you can thank him for all of the ruined castles basically) He and his troops invaded Scotland in the 1650s too. They waited 8 months through the dead of winter just for the satisfaction of destroying the Scottish Crown Jewels that were kept inside. This was the last place to surrender to Cromwell in the spring… And when they did take the castle- the jewels were nowhere to be found. The rumor is that the wife of one of the Scottish leaders was granted access to see her husband and smuggled them out under her skirt.  They buried them under a church for safekeeping and to this day, they reside in the Crown Room of the Edinburgh Castle as the oldest set of Crown Jewels in the British isles





I was cursing Kegan at this point.   


We ended tonight in a sleepy little sea town called Johnshaven. We are staying at the hotel which is also the bar and the restaurant in town- The Anchor Hotel and Restaurant .

We had the best seafood we have ever had in our lives. Seriously, we are in the Freetown of Scotland… And we need to give this little place a Michelin star. 

I had a seafood platter and Kegan had the Italian Style Seafood Stew followed by a Sticky Toffee Pudding that may have been the best thing I’ve ever tasted.  To put it in perspective, they just threw a lobster tail on top of our dinners “just because they caught a bunch today” ha 

Kegan had a couple new beers. I thought they were weak tasting. I suggested that maybe they had the tap set up wrong… (In my head at the time picturing a soda machine set up with the water lines and the syrup box apparently! Haha) I’ve been catching grief for my “beer syrup” all evening. Lol


AND, the kicker- they have a statue of my likeness.  


Apparently I’m a reincarnated version of a 2000 year old Roman woman because I look exactly like all of these old statues I see! Lol 


  1. Aunt Deana

    I’m loving what I’m seeing. Scotland looks like where I want to live. X the plan on the castle ruins in Ireland, let’s find some in Scotland instead 🙂

    • Erin McKinney

      Actually, I haven’t been a huge fan of the people around Aberdeen all the way to Inverness. Lol Edinburgh was great but as we went, drivers were more rude…people cut you off in line… I was quite surprised at the difference! I’ll let you know about today 🙂

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