“O, my Luve is like a red, red rose, That’s newly sprung in June. O, my Luve is like the melodie, That’s sweetly played in tune.”Robert Burns
Other than Paris, I haven’t fallen in love with a city I wanted to move to immediately- until I visited Edinburgh. The sweet classic charm of Edinburgh is at every turn, the streets, shops, pubs, buildings, and the food and people are all so amazing. We thoroughly enjoyed every moment in Edinburgh, despite catching a cold somewhere between Belfast and Glasgow, I was feeling the worst when we stayed in Edinburgh, but this did not keep me down!
When we first arrived in Edinburgh in the afternoon, we drove around the city looking at buildings and monuments, we drove to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Nelson Monument and Calton Hill, Holyrood Park, and Scott Monument to see the various sights. We did not have time to visit the interior of the Palace, the Queen’s Official residence in Edinburgh, but you can visit for £16.50 per adult.
First thing the next morning, in the most dreary weather we encountered on the trip, we decided to hike Arthur’s seat. This extinct volcano has several different hiking paths depending on you strengths and time limits. The hike itself was really easy, despite not being able to see a few feet in front of us toward the end of the hike. The lack of visibly was rather intimidating once we made it to the top. Somehow we made it to the peak of Arthur’s seat, but you would never know it because we couldn’t see the city below – or each other if we were more than three feet ahead!
After our hike, and warm showers, we made our way into Old Town; we parked near the Edinburgh Castle in a public parking garage, which is a short walk to all of the attractions in Old Town. Here you can walk through the quaint streets to see all of the pubs and shops, you can also walk down Princess Street and Rose Street to visit old shops to make your postcard and kilt purchases.
Before visiting the Edinburgh Castle, just a few steps away, is the Scotch Whisky Experience Tour. There are various tours available depending on your Whisky interests/preferences. The girls chose the “Silver Tour” for £16, which includes everything outlined below. The guys chose the “Gold Tour” for £29.50 that includes a tasting of four regional single malts after the “Silver Tour” activities. When considering your time frame and schedule it is important to note that you cannot book this tour far in advance. Unlike most attractions you can schedule weeks or months in advance, here you can only book 7 days before. Alternatively, (like what we ultimately decided to do) you can just show up in hopes that you can get in for an upcoming tour. We waited in line for probably 20-25 minutes to make our tour purchase. Once you get your tickets, you get in (yet another) line to hop on a “bubble” to literally ride through the virtual distillery to learn about the history of whisky and distillation process.
Throughout the tour you learn, pause and wait to learn more, and then tour culminates in a room of the largest collection of whisky in the world, where you get to taste a whisky of your choice. My favorite part of the tour is they give you a postcard (Yay!) that is a “scratch and sniff” of the various whisky regions. Each region smells, and tastes, completely different. Based on the smell, and what you just learned about the Scottish regions and process, you choose which region of whisky you would like to try. Super fun.
After the Whisky Experience Tour, I was able to meet up with my childhood pen-pal, Becky, at a local pub a couple blocks away. About 16 years ago we met waiting in line for a ride at Sea World, we decided to become pen-pals and wrote to each other for about 7 years…until we became friends on Facebook. The craziest part is that we met up on our 9-year “Facebook Anniversary!” How crazy is life!?
Finally, we were able to tour the Edinburgh Castle. The castle is open at 9:30am daily with a 5:00pm close. We chose to buy our tickets at the gate for £19.50 because we were not sure which day would work for our visit when were are scheduling our visit, alternatively you can book online and save £2. Throughout the castle there are various rooms with history and artifacts, a museum, gift shop (duh!), cafe, and a little church.
Side note: we ate pizza with some new friends from Germany in Naples, Italy a few months ago who got married at the Castle the same weekend we were there, again- how crazy!? Traveling really makes you understand it is a small world after all.
Where to Stay:
The Airbnb we stayed at in Edinburgh was one of the best ones I have ever stayed in, it was in a great location in East Parkside, right at the base of Arthur’s Seat and close to all of the attractions and restaurants. It was a 2-2 with a great host who provided a basket of snacks and waters, and had a washer and dryer combo. Unfortunately the apartment is no longer on the Airbnb website, however there are a ton of great looking options to choose from- one of which is in the same complex where we stayed.
Places to Eat:
So for those of you who know me, I swear by Yelp and rarely do I go to a restaurant before checking out the Yelp reviews. Well one night in Edinburgh, we happened upon The Perch Restaurant. We were all indecisive and no one was deciding on where to go for dinner, so as we walked by the menu caught our eye. We decided to take a chance, and I am so glad we did. The small venue is on the second floor of a building with only a few tables and a bar, and served one of the most memorable meals I had on this trip: rare lamb with Mediterranean vegetables and seasoning. Holy moly. I totally went outside my comfort zone- I had only ever had lamb in a Gyro- what was I thinking? It was absolutely incredible. Everything we had at The Perch was perfect.
Still on the list:
Gin Discovery Tour– I much prefer Gin to Whisky, so next time I am in Edinburgh I will definitely check out this tour. It is only offered on select days and times, so be sure to schedule your tour in advance, and let me know how it is once you go!
After an incredible two days, actually less than two days, in Edinburgh it was time to move to the next stop: York, England. Have you visited Scotland, what was your favorite part? I cannot wait to return to visit the Northern Region to see the incredible lochs and castles, hike, and eat all the cookies at the Walker’s Shortbread Factory!