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The train journey up to the Scottish capital had a heavy Scottish contingent onboard and it was refreshing to replace the usual commuter chat on the train with a passionate back-and-forth about Scottish rugby – it helped get you in the mood for the day ahead!
Straight out of the station and quickly on to our hotel to drop the bags and dive into a whistle-stop tour of the city – well, maybe a late breakfast first. We started by Holyrood and the Scottish Parliament Building and then walked up the Royal Mile towards Edinburgh Castle. Along the way there are endless pubs, cafes and cool shops to dip in and out of - by the time we’d made it to the castle a few hours had past and we’d taken about a thousand selfies while holding bagpipes and wearing tartan hats.
We sat for a while on the Victoria Terrace and had a coffee, the row of shops and cafes sits on a ledge above street level and looks out onto the towering buildings which closely line the hilly streets, it’s a really cool spot and definitely one to make sure you check out on your visit.
We made our way around the corner and up to the castle and paid our small entry fee to go and have a look round one of the most specular buildings in the UK. Inside we found all sorts of rooms and displays which walked us through hundreds of years of stories and legends – I thought this was incredible and it was brilliant to have an insight into the inner workings of a functioning military base.
There was still plenty to see, but it was time to head to the game so the unvisited sites would have to wait until our next day in Edinburgh. We walked down some steps just to the side of the Castle’s front courtyard and took a short journey to the tram stop. All of a sudden, we were back following the trail of the fans and the atmosphere was once again palpable.
A short trip and we came around the corner of the tram turnstiles to find BT Murrayfield waiting for us. Heading inside, I was surprised to find just how many fans had made the trip to the stadium early, there was already a party atmosphere and we were keen to get involved.
Through the gates and into the stadium complex, we took a lap of the ground to take in the building excitement before finding our home for the next couple of hours in the fan park. Full of bars and foodie stops, there were activities to take part in thanks to the various sponsors and the building hum of the crowd made for a great backdrop to our score predictions. The consensus? The Fijians had travelled a long way to Scotland and the crisp, cold weather would be tricky for them, a win for the blues was on the cards.
We caught wind that the players were soon to arrive, so we made our way to the players’ entrance and experienced one of the best sporting ceremonies I have ever experienced – completely unexpectedly too.
A troop of tartan kilt clad soldiers marched into the ground followed by the team bus while thousands of fans lined the way and the stand above to try catch a glimpse of their heroes. Each player received a warm welcome as they disembarked the team bus and headed into the ground for their preparations.
It was time for us to head inside too and get settled in. Our seats were ideal, just to the left of centre, right in front of the players as they warmed up. Now all that was left to do was watch the soldiers abseil off the stadium roof with the match ball, marvel at a bagpipe player on top of the opposite stand during the national anthem and then settle in for the action – brilliant!
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