The past few months have been full of uncertainty as to where we can travel, with the ever changing green, amber and red lists when leaving the UK. One thing that is a go zone, is Scotland! It’s handy and attractive and isn’t relatively too far away, where my boyf and I decided to visit Edinburgh, which I know is a favourite of his and a place my Grandma and Nanny have been fond of.
I won’t lie, it has taken a while for me to write this as I haven’t been left feeling like one to shout praise about it – sad spoiler, I know. I went at the beginning of August, which unbeknown to me clashed with Scotland’s bank holiday, the weekend before the Fringe festival and slight easing of restrictions = chaos.
Many jolly, merry folk, let’s say.
Anyhow, me boyf and I went from Friday to Monday, which was probably more than enough time. We got the LNER train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh, which took just over 4 hours and was quite picturesque at times. I managed to get us into First Class for an extra £5 each!
Even though we arrived on the cusp of the late eve, we had fortunately booked to have cocktails at a Jurassic-Park themed bar hosted by The Cocktail Geeks, and my goodness, the drinks were quite literally out of the park! After, we tried looking for another bar or pub along the Royal Mile, but due to restrictions, we had to have booked, places were full, or closing due to the 11pm curfew which was a shame – but rules are rules. We decided to call it a night and headed to the hotel, taking in the view of the Castle at night, before making sure we booked places for food for our remaining nights!
I have to say, here comes the first of the ‘eeks’ for me: our hotel was the Mercure near Grassmarket which was handy for getting to bars, cafes and restaurants quickly. However, for the amount we paid compared to a Premier Inn for instance, I was not impressed: the walls were super thin, a squeaky bed, and key card issues, plus I was not a fan of the sliding wardrobe-bathroom door. Let’s just say if you need to vocalise in the toilet, you have to be very comfortable with the buddy you’re sharing with! Moreover, the doors in the whole corridor were loud and rattly, meaning when one slammed, you could hear it throughout and feel it shake the walls. It didn’t help that on one night we had a few merry ladies next to ours into the wee hours. However, I will say that the staff were great and the location is ideal: near a Tesco if you need to grab a snack!
On the Saturday for our first full day, we came across the Lovecrumbs bakery for breakfast, which became our staple place each morning. One thing I did notice was the tap water tasted very different in Scotland – it turns out I am a water snob and prefer it ‘processed’ down South compared to pure springs up North!
I booked a tour for the afternoon, so we used the morning to explore Armchair Books filled with a decent selection of old and new novels, with some first editions, really crumpled ones and newish ones. We checked out the Royal Mile in daylight, Victoria Street and the Elephant House which inspired J.K. Rowling to write Harry Potter, which is very evident when going around the city which has left its mark thanks to all the HP merch shops! We managed to go up to the Castle (not inside as we didn’t see the point spending £19) and get a slightly foggy view, before heading to our tour from Monkey Barrell Comedy: the Mountebank Tour.
I was feeling a bit underwhelmed by the city at this point, so it was nice to break it up and learn some history of the hidden nooks and backstreets where our guide Daniel was brilliant and remembered everyone’s names! He was very interactive, sweary (ah hem, comedy tour!) and fitted the part in his kilt, stockings and thick Scottish accent. One thing I did learn about was the true meaning of a jobbie. (Google it.)
I finally had the pleasure of trying a deep fried mars bar… oh my! I was not disappointed! My boyf and I shared one and I was so surprised that I didn’t feel too stodgy afterward, although 1 was enough. Our evening finished with us going to Down the Hatch, a Canadian themed restaurant which was a bit of a way out and through a lot of people out for the night, although I had some delicious buffalo wings and fries.
Sunday was a bit more of a chilled one as we covered most of the things on my list, apart from Arthur’s Seat as I didn’t realise how much of a trek it was, plus the weather was not on our side. We did, however, take a nice walk to Dean village which was very ‘insta-worthy’ with its cute stream going through. We proceeded to a nearby Sunday market selling all sorts of foodie bits, before of course popping into the charity shops! I managed to bag myself a few goodies, plus a first edition Harry Potter 7 (not worth much though).
The weather picked up a bit more and the sun was out as we made our way back via New Town, so we just chilled in the city park near the Scottish National Gallery reading our books. The eve comprised a visit to Cold Town Beer in Grassmarket where at this point I had unfortunately really not taken to the city, to the point we had considered getting our train ticket home brought a day forward.
Monday was another chilled one: we headed to our favourite Lovecrumbs café and Armchair Books, as well as local bakery Tasty Buns to grab a cornflake brownie. We browsed Waterstones and once again sat in the park before catching our train home in the afternoon.
I cannot pinpoint if there was a certain moment where I knew Edinburgh wasn’t for me. It’s a shame.
The weather wasn’t on our side and I was left agitated about the hotel. I think overall it was very overhyped and it didn’t help that there were A LOT of merry, jolly people out and about in the evening combined with the restrictions and crap weather. Sadly, I still find it very difficult to switch off from work and other mental health troubles so this darkened my spirit.
I’m glad I went and got to see the city for myself, but I’d say I’m not in a rush to return just yet.