Edinburgh, the “Athens of the North,” is probably the most dramatic-looking capital city in Europe. The castle glowers from over a black, volcanic cliff, watching over Princes Street and the gray, granite-block buildings that shine in the rain and brood in the sun. Carved, Greek columns give Edinburgh a justified air of education and culture. Every day at one the cannons from the ramparts fire to mark the time. The stoney streets of Edinburgh echo with the sounds and sights of sensible activity mixed with an enevitable demonstration of that mystical passion of the Scots (after dark, and fueled by a love of spirits and socializing, the mystical passions of the people of Edinburgh become more pronounced).
To the traveler, Edinburgh looks and sounds forbiddingly far from the familiar sights of London. But high speed train service out of London trims the trip to Edinburgh's Waverley Station to about four hours. You also have the option of taking the nine-hour overnight sleeper train, which by US Amtrak standards offers an almost giddy level of charm, comfort and romance.
A visit to Edinburgh can begin with a trip to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. The hard past of the Scots, and their enduring spirit, is beautifully captured by Edinburgh Castle. Not only commanding a beautiful view of the city and region, the castle houses the history of the Scots for a thousand years ad the history of Scotland's Stuart kings. The Royal Mile is the main, history-packed thoroughfare of Edinburgh. A list of other touring points of Edinburgh, including the Edinburgh Zoo, the Royal Museum, the Scottish National Portait Gallery and Parliament House, is beyond the scope of this survey. But you will find yourself only slightly less busy than in London.
Edinburgh boasts a variety of interesting accommodations, ranging from the grand and traditional Scotsman (in the building occupied by the newspaper of the same name), to the new and chic Malmaison, to individually operated inns full of local charm like the Stuart House. Here is Tripadvisors listing/rating of hotels in Edinburgh. [cloudtravel]