After years of “Silvester” and “New Year” celebrations I was finally ready for “Hogmanay” and wanted to wave goodbye to my first year on the Island with Cèilidh or céilí in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As the “Edinburgh Hogmanay Party” claims to be the best, world’s favourite, and even the largest New Year event, and after so many superlatives in 2010 I was ready to end it with a grand finale. And in Scotland’s capital you not only celebrate on December 31st, you can choose from a four-day program. As photography nuts we wanted to see the Torchlight Processions on the 30th and of course attend the big street festival on the 31st with the fireworks display from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle.
Unfortunately, due to a burst water pipe in my apartment that needed fixing before we left, we arrived too late on the 30th – at exactly the time when the procession finished. You can get an idea of what we missed by looking at this photo blog post of Carissa Ray. So if you ever plan to experience this Edinburgh Torchlight Procession, make sure to arrive before 6.00 PM on the 30th…and fix all your water pipes early in advance 😉
We did not allow ourselves to be too sad about what we missed and went out for a fantastic dinner instead. With the help of ‘Yelp!’ we found “Hewat’s” an amazing Scottish-French restaurant, which I am sure that if walking past it, I would have never gone in. The online reviews and Toptable Gold Award did not lie: really FANTASTIC food, atmosphere, wine, staff and good price. Thank god for the mobile apps and local search! 😉
The next day we wanted to make sure not to miss anything again and started quite early with a walk up to Arthur’s Seat to get the best view on the city from above. We were so lucky with the weather; no rain, and right in the moment when we reached the highest point on Arthur’s Seat, the sun lit the city in perfect morning light. Just stunning.
After seeing the city from above, we walked the Royal Mile from castle to castle for a closer look of the historic heart of Edinburgh. However, I was not too impressed. This part of town felt just like a big tourist attraction, with one gift shop after another, and a bagpiper for every street corner, and just way too many tourists.
When we reached Edinburgh Castle at the top of the hill we took some photos of the stunning view of the city but tried to escape this touristy centre rather quickly.
We walked down Victoria Street towards Grassmarket in search for a restaurant a little bit away from the crowds. We found a table in another cute little French restaurant that I can really recommend, if you are ever in Edinburgh: “Maison Bleue” great cosy atmosphere, excellent food and wine.
The Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party at night was amazing, too. It is very different from what I have experienced on New Years so far. Really like a big festival with open-air concerts on several stages in and around Princes Street Gardens in the city. We had tickets for The Keilidh, and outdoor ceilidh experience that was set within an exclusive area of the street party. There we enjoyed traditional Scottish music and watched hundreds of people following the instructions of a Ceilidh Caller who taught them the correct Scottish moves until the spectacular Midnight Fireworks begun and we could throw our arms around a new, exciting 2011!!!
On our way back from Scottland we did a bit of a detour into the famous Lake District and drove along Ullswater towards Windermere. This was the most amazing landscape I have seen on the island so far. We must have passed thousands of sheep, all with funny color dots on their bums. 😉 I guess that is either the way for the owner to recognize their own sheep or to define which year they are born or something… We decided to come back to Ullswater on the next long weekend in spring and stay in one of the lovely cottages to count the sheep and their dots all day long, and maybe also enjoy a Shepherds Pie…lets see 😉
I wish you all a very Happy New Year 2011. Make the most of it!