One of the most vibrant and prettiest cities I’ve visited to date, Edinburgh caters for all ages, tastes and persuasions with culture dating back hundreds of years.
From the famous castle to modern nightlife, Edinburgh has it all. Despite it being one of the most touristy destinations in Britain, not once did we indulge in touristy, chain restaurants or eateries, preferring to spend a little extra, enjoying and supporting the local trade, quite an important part of travel in my opinion and as a result, you usually get better tasting food and drink.
We boarded a train from Manchester on Friday afternoon, for a very scenic 3 and a half hour journey. We arrived just in time for dinner and drinks in one of the many pubs along the street where we stayed.
Our accommodation was superb, though it took me ages to find a suitable place to stay as this trip, along with my boyfriend, I took my new best friend Emma, a former work colleague. Although we’re a generation apart, we clicked and became firm friends. Emma had been to Edinburgh many times before for reasons I’ll tell you about shortly but it was great having our own personal tour guide. She knew all the best places to visit…and more importantly how to get there. There were dozens of pubs along the street where we stayed, so never too far to grab a pint whenever we needed on.
Along with our room, the weather was superb too, with the sun shining and blue skies all round – very different to the past few months of grey skies, rain and sub-zero temperatures.
On our first day we wandered up to the Royal Mile, witnessing a traditional Scottish pipe band as we headed to our first attraction, Camera Obscura.
Camera Obscura is Latin meaning dark room but with a very modern take on this principle, with lots of obscure, vibrant photographic, colour and mind challenging experiences. It was well worth the £15.50 entry fee as we walked through the half dozen floors of fun activities.
Following that, we visited Mary Kings Close, a fascinating network of hidden streets and houses, located under the Royal Mile where the poorest of the poor lived in the mid 17th century, confined to spaces no bigger than my living room with no natural light, very limited facilities and often putrid conditions.
Saturday night was a night on the town I’ll never forget. Emma has quite an eclectic taste in music, so she took us to a club called Opium – a nightclub that plays nothing but heavy metal music, a far cry from the kind of music one would expect from the kind of nightclub I’m used to. No Kylie tracks here. Frequented by a fun, alternative crowd of all ages from young uni students to middle age men with hair covering their backs, ink and piercings, it was certainly an eye-opener.
Nurturing a hangover, we enjoyed a hearty Scottish breakfast which included a hair-of-the-dog (another pint) and some haggis before heading out, this time to the castle. I won’t tell you the ingredients of haggis nor how it’s made because I fear you will never try it but like black pudding, it’s become one of my breakfast must-haves whenever I travel to Scotland.
On Sunday, we headed to Edinburgh Castle. Situated at the top of the hill overlooking the city, the castle site is one of the oldest in Britain, with human occupation of the site dating back to the Iron Age, around 200A.D. The castle itself dates back to around the 12th century, with recent research concluding that this castle is the most besieged in Great Britain and one of the most attacked castles in war.
Entry to Edinbugh Castle is £18.50 but being a member of English Heritage, we were entitled to a 50% discount, so essentially we received 2 tickets for the price of 1.
We saw the crown jewels and the coronation stone, a piece of sandstone which is used for each crowning of a King or Queen, which is still used today. The stone will again be used to crown the next King of England, Prince Charles once Queen Elizabeth dies.
Completely exhausted after our day trip to the castle we headed back to our accommodation, stopping for a couple of pints at the pub next door before ordering a “munchie box” each – a Scottish tradition full of deep fried food and pizza.
The next day we showered and jumped on a train back to Manchester. We didn’t get to do all that Edinburgh had to offer and we plan on revisiting this amazing city again sometime in the future.
We’ve decided to give our overnight excursions a miss for a while. As fun as they are, they’re also very expensive with long weekends costing close to a thousand pounds. So we’ve decided to put that money aside for now to save up and buy a narrowboat.