Edinburgh

James and I wanted to visit each country in the U.K., so it was only natural that a trip to Scotland was necessary.

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On a warm day in Exeter, we hopped on a train north to Bristol Temple Meades station. In that hour the weather was drastically different.The short wait for the Airport Flyer was a very cold one – and this was just Bristol, we were dreading the cold in Edinburgh. We immediately had to put our gloves, hats and scarves on. Every time we spoke we could see our breaths.

On a warm day in Exeter, we hopped on a train north to Bristol Temple Meades station. In that hour the weather was drastically different.The short wait for the Airport Flyer was a very cold one – and this was just Bristol, we were dreading the cold in Edinburgh. We immediately had to put our gloves, hats and scarves on. Every time we spoke we could see our breaths.

P.S. The airport flyer is £7, but if you buy your train ticket on Trainline to Bristol Airport (XPB train code) instead of Bristol Temple Meades the bus is included in the fee – for the same price as going to the railway!

I have this habit of always saying  “things are going well”  before our trips even start – more of a reassurance to myself, but I say it out loud. It drives James crazy because he thinks I’ll jinx everything. On this trip I decided to keep quiet and not say anything…low and behold what happened? Our flight got canceled. We’re now convinced that it’s a good luck charm whenever I say “things are going well” before our trip and I MUST say it on all trips now.

Anyway, the flight was canceled due to the immense fog in Bristol. As it turns out the earlier flight at 10:15 am was delayed due to the fog, and was set to leave at 2:25 pm (the time our canceled flight was supposed to depart) so Easy Jet, combined both flights. I’m not sure if both flights were super underbooked, or people that got to the counter later were offered a refund instead of being placed on the earlier but delayed flight. All I know is the minute they said our flight was canceled and please head to desk James and I sprinted there to ensure we were the first people attended to.

Now fast forward an hour, and we were in Scotland! Since we’re always looking to be cheap, we avoided the Airlink bus which was about €6 for a single ride into the city center and took the public transport. The Lothian bus #35, calls at stop F at the airport and it was only €1.60 for a single ride.

By the time we made it to the city center it was about 6 pm, and we decided our first stop would be to a Tesco to get some food for the following day for our Highlands Tour. We managed to score a bag of oats, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, 6 bags of crisps, and two ready meals for about €5. After our shopping we went to our hostel to check in, eat and rest up for the tour. We stayed at “The Hostel.” It wasn’t terrible, at the time it was undergoing some renovations but the facilities itself weren’t bad. They had free wifi, lockers, a kitchen, a nice lounge area. The only negative experience we had in our hostel was really the guests in our room. A lot of people checked in rather late – near midnight and didn’t seem to care that half of the room was already asleep. They just flipped the lights on and started chatting and doing unpacking their entire bags. I understand you got there late and needed to get changed, but they could have done it quietly in respect for the people already sleeping. James and I learned we are not hostel people – we’ll get us a nice B&B instead.

The following day, Tuesday, we did our highland tour (detailed in a separate post click to read).

On Wednesday we spent the entire day adventuring the city of Edinburgh. We were fortunate that the weather was much warmer than when we first arrived. It was warm enough for me to take my winter coat off! Fun fact Edinburgh is not pronounced the way it looks. It’s more along the lines of “eh-den-bruh”, still don’t know why.

Nearest to our hostel was St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral – free to enter so we went in for a quick stroll.

Edingburgh

Right across the way of the Cathedral is Dean Village, a quaint and picturesque neighborhood.

Edinburgh

After Dean Village, we walked over to Princes St, the “new town” area of Edinburgh. Across Princes St to the right is Edinburgh Castle which sits on top of a volcanic rock. The land between the castle and the street naturally forms a valley and was used for a Park. We spent our early morning strolling through the park and taking in the views of the Castle. It is rumored that the Edinburgh Castle is the inspiration for Hogwarts in Rowling’s books. When James first saw it he said to me it reminded him of Hogwarts – and then I happily explained it was the inspiration.

Since it’s December, there are Christmas Markets everywhere and Edinburgh was no different. All the stalls were open and decorated with lights. There was also a Ferris wheel! I think Edinburgh’s Christmas market is probably my favorite thus far. Not too crowded.

Edinburgh

After we did the Christmas Market we opted to check out the National Gallery of Scotland – it’s free. I would be lying if I said James and I were connoisseurs in art. We go to a museum, spend maybe 30 minutes looking at paintings and sculptures, stop and look at whatever interests us and then leave. We definitely don’t sit and discuss art unless it makes us giggle. James came across a painting from a time period before the Renaissance that looked like a lady was performing oral sex, so we giggled.

Next stop was the Edinburgh Castle. It was swarmed with tourists on the outside so I could only imagine how many were inside. I believe it was around €12 to enter, we opted to view from outside. James took the opportunity to pretend he was riding a horse up to the castle. I swear he’s 22…

Following the Castle, we walked over to the Grassmarket area. When eating out you should definitely check this spot out, a great variety of restaurants and live music is located here. We saw a gentleman photographing his 3 fluffy white dogs – clearly we were excited. Dog models! How cute.

Grassmarket Edinburgh

We then left the Grassmarket and walked up Victoria Street – another Harry Potter inspiration. Supposedly it’s said to have inspired Diagon Alley. I think Gandy Street in Exeter is more believable than this but I guess we’ll never know unless Rowling confirms it herself.

Victoria Street Edinburgh

Next stop was Greyfriars Kirkyard to continue our hunt for Harry Potter inspirations. There are gravestones that are rumored to be the name inspirations for Dumbledore and Voldermort. One of the gravestones literally reads “Tom Riddle”. Unfortunately, there were so many gravestones, we couldn’t find them.

I felt very strange going up to a staff member asking for the gravestone locations  as well as it seemed a bit disrespectful to ogle at an actual person’s grave. So we left, to find the Greyfriars Bobby Statue. It’s said if you rub his nose it’ll give you good luck – but please don’t! His nose is all varnished out from all the rubbing.

Greyfriars Bobby Edinburgh

Just below the statue is the Elephant Castle. THE pub in which J.K. Rowling wrote some of the novels! Obviously, the Potterhead in me was excited to see that!

Best for last – you can actually find J.K. Rowling’s hands on the streets of Edinburgh. In the City Chambers Quadrangle, there are certain notable hands. J.K. Rowling was awarded the Edinburgh Award so her hands are forever imprinted in gold on the street!

After we finished our Harry Potter tour we decided to do the Arthur’s Seat hike. While walking to the mountain we came across an Indian Restaurant that was doing a lunch buffet from noon-2:30 pm. It was €6.99 for all you can eat. We weren’t sure we would be able to do the hike and then get back in time for the buffet so we opted to do lunch first. Big mistake. I really don’t know why we were so stupid with this – maybe because we were hungry and had hungry brains. We both overate because it was a buffet and we wanted to get our money’s worth. I literally had to loosen my bra a little because my stomach had grown so large and it was getting a bit tight. We were both worried we were going to throw up while climbing Arthur’s Seat.

Fortunately, we still needed to walk about 30 minutes before we reached the base of the mountain so that gave us some time to digest our food. Regardless we agreed we would climb the mountain very, very slowly so we don’t throw up. There are two ways to get to the top, the left path consists of rock step pathway which was very steep and winding, whereas the right path consists of walking along the road in a very gradual but long and out of the way manner. We opted to do the steep and winding path up, and the long and gradual path down. It actually wasn’t terrible because we were going nice and slow and it was quite windy so it was difficult to work up a sweat. Once we got higher, though, the wind got a lot stronger and the rock steps became muddier and more dangerous.The top of the steps is the halfway point for the climb because it then turns into a walking a path along the side of the mountain. This part was probably the scariest. Not because of the height but because of the narrowness of the path and strength of the wind. On two occasions the wind was so strong it knocked me over. Fortunately, it was blowing into the mountain rather than off. Towards the end of the climb, you need to go up a hill and down a valley and up the final hill. When we were walking up the first hill the strength of the wind was super helpful – since it basically propelled me up the hill. Though immediately after that it started blowing me very quickly down the hill and I got scared and just crouched down next to a rock to maintain my balance. The very last hill was very rocky and there weren’t really any actual paths – it turned more into rock climbing than hiking. The view at the top though was well worth the trouble. 250.5 m high in the sky and you could see all of Edinburgh. It was breathtaking while simultaneously terrifying due to the strength of the wind. There was a “seat” like a monument that showed the height of Arthur’s Seat and I literally was clinging onto it while at the top so the wind didn’t blow me over. We didn’t spend too long at the top because it was starting to get dark, so after about 15 minutes we made our way down Arthur’s Seat, on the long and easy path. This path was far less eventful than the first, and it allowed us to walk on the other side of the mountain so we were able to glimpse the ocean.

About 40 minutes later we were back in the city center, visiting the National Museum of Scotland, which is free. We took the opportunity to use the free restrooms and look at some art.
You can’t go to Edinburgh without strolling through the shops on the Royal Mile. We spent about 15 minutes window shopping. Most of the shops are quite the same – selling plaid patterned cashmere scarves.

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Our last stop of the night, the Christmas Market. On our way to the Christmas Market, we managed to score some free tea. A gentleman offered us a voucher to a cafe offering a free cup of tea or coffee. Obviously, they’re hoping you buying something else with it – but we’re all about maintaining the free so we stuck to just a cup of tea. We then ventured down to the Market and strolled through the shops and stalls. I’ve found the Christmas Markets all over the U.K. seem to sell the same products, so there wasn’t anything that jumped out at us. We did buy a piece of Bailey flavored fudge for dessert so that was quite tasty. The Edinburgh market, in particular, was far less crowded than others, Iso that made James and me very happy.

There you have it – our trip to Edinburgh. We managed to see almost all the sites within a day. Will you be visiting Edinburgh soon?

Total Cost James and I: £210.08

Breakdown

  • Return train tickets to Bristol Airport for James and I: £51.60
  • Return flight tickets from Bristol Airport to Edinburgh Airport: £83.96
  • Return bus ticket from Edinburgh Airport to city centre for James and I: £6.40
    • Single for 1 – £1.60, so 4 trips=£6.40
  • Hostel 3 nights for James and I: £48
  • Total food for James and I: £20.12
    • Grocery – £5
    • Lunch buffet – £14
    • Fudge – £1.12

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10 thoughts on “Edinburgh

  1. Yeah, the fog can be pretty bad in the UK and play havoc with flights, so kudos to you for getting an alternative flight so soon after your first one was cancelled! Edinburgh is a great city, I agree. Such beautiful architecture and, yes, lots to enjoy if you’re a Harry Potter fan 🙂 More kudos to you for climbing up to windy Arthur’s Seat after an Indian lunchtime banquet!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I believe same like you that if you “things are going well” eventually everything will turn up just fine. The power of our thoughts is amazing truly. Basically we are creating the reality around us . I was lucky to find good weather when I went to Edinburgh, I hope I’ll go back one day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You packed in a lot in a single day, but the pictures have turned our amazingly well. I have my eyes set on Edinburgh and Scotland since a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

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