14 November 2014

Suitcase. Edinburgh, UK – Travel Guide

Ah Edinburgh, home to the elusive kilt-wearing, bagpipe-playing Scotsman. Who mind you, as I discovered last weekend, is not so elusive – there are actually people in kilts everywhere! I’m curious to know what happens when the wind blows…

Last weekend saw me head off to the most northern part of the world that I have ever ventured – Edinburgh. With a suitcase laden with coats and gilets I felt prepared for the chilly Scottish autumn I was about to encounter, and they were right – it sure was cold and the blustery wind and rain makes it feel even chillier! Nevertheless I had a wonderful weekend soaking up the sights [and several hot toddy’s] in this historic town.

The Dome

Every little part of Edinburgh lives and breathes its historic background – the town just oozes old-world charm. The most stunning sight that evidences the town’s age is Edinburgh Castle which sits right in the centre of town way up atop an extinct volcano – it’s a pretty incredible location. The battlement is first mentioned in literary texts back in the 10th century but they believe it dates right back to 600 A.D. Amazing. Leading up to the castle you’ll find the Royal Mile which is a historic cobblestoned road that features some of the iconic places of Edinburgh’s Old Town. All around this area you’ll find truly charming residences, awe-inspiring churches and original cobblestoned paths [watch out for these, I tripped several times!].

Further downtown you’ll find Princes Street which is the main shopping mall of Edinburgh, along here you’ll also find the Balmoral which is a beautiful stately hotel. One street further up is George Street where there is a great selection of dining options – this is also where you’ll find The Dome. What was once the headquarters of the Scottish banks, this historic building now houses a beautiful selection of dining options and their Christmas decorations are first class – complete with fake snow [don’t tell anyone but I actually thought it was real and got very excited!].

And if you’ve got time and feel like stretching your legs a walk down the Water of Leith walkway makes for a lovely stroll. This little river heads up towards the ocean from the centre of town with plenty of beautiful buildings, charming bridges and cosy pubs along the way.

Edinburgh itself is actually quite small so within the town you can easily walk around and take in the sights – I think it’s the best way. But if you need to get out of the rain or travel a bit further afield to the outskirts there are buses, trams and taxis at your disposal. When arriving in from the airport you can easily get the tram or the Airlink bus straight into the city.

Breakfast at Peter's Yard
Food and drink seems to be a huge part of Scottish culture – I think it’s largely because the weather is so often cold and raining, so settling down in a pub with a hot roast and cold larger must seem like a pretty good option for locals. I had the pleasure of eating at some lovely places during my visit. Peter’s Yard which is a Swedish café makes a great breakfast stop – I can highly recommend their breakfast tray which provides a delightful assortment to get your day started. Grass Market in the Old Town is a strip of old style venues with several low key pubs that have a very authentic feel. If you fancy a trip to the markets, the Stockbridge markets have some great produce available and make a lovely activity for a lazy Sunday. And for a lovely meal for dinner you can’t go past The Grain Store in the Old Town. This beautiful restaurant offers an idyllic, authentic atmosphere (think stone walls and candelabras) with some truly incredible food; I highly recommend the scallops, partridge and chocolate fondue.

Chocolate fondue at The Grain Store

This wee lassie had a grand old time in Edinburgh - this historic town makes a wonderful place for a weekend visit - just be sure to pack your best coat in winter and some very good listening skills to decipher the Scotsmen.

Photos by Krissie.