It’s been 10 years since I’ve been to Edinburgh, and it hasn’t changed much. In fact, some parts haven’t changed in the last 10 centuries. After a 6pm arrival, we hightailed out of the airport, checked into the fabulous Waldorf Astoria, and took advantage of the long hours of daylight before dinner.
The striking views of the skyline dominating castle are mind boggling; you can’t help but be drawn up the hill. We took a ghost walk through the ancient St. Cuthbert’s Church cemetery on the way. Making a list of the shops to stop in the following day, we wandered through the mostly empty Grassmarket and made our way towards dinner at The Edinburgh Larder Bistro. Feeling like we’d uncovered a hidden gem, we excitedly flipped through the scotch menu and feasted on delicious fresh fish and lamb. The atmosphere and blackberry and sweet woodruff trifle really stole the show. The next morning, we incessantly checked the weather and decided to roll the dice by trying to hike up and down Arthur’s Seat before the threatening rain hit. Our taxi driver had me a little anxious about the climb, but the hubs and I skipped the slow sloping trail and dominated the ragged route to the top. It felt so good and had us aching for our California climbing adventures. FitBit claimed we’d scaled 90 flights of stairs, you Chicagoans could compare this to the Hancock Hustle. It felt like our luck was running out, and sure enough, just as soon as we’d hailed a taxi back to the hotel the rain let loose.Feeling quite accomplished, we fixed ourselves up and were once again ushered via taxi to the castle by noon. With pre-purchased tickets, we jumped the line and joined the rest of the umbrella clad crew wandering the castle’s cobbled paths.
Wishing I would have done my research on the extensive castle, we found ourselves stuck in a slow moving queue to see the crown jewels, which fell far short of the expectations implied by the long line. However, the Prisons of War exhibit detailing the lifestyle of the castles’ prisoners was intriguing. Most amusing was the fact that beer was part of their daily rations- not just one, but TWO pints?!
The Great Hall was also impressive, well, to me at least. On our way out, we managed a few more snaps in the sun before calling it quits on our cultural portion of the day. Making our way towards lunch, Grassmarket was wholly different than the quiet quarters we’d walk through the previous night post castle close. Snagging the last open spot at BrewDog, we attempted to taste everything on tap and snacked on homemade nacho pizza.
Loving the local feel and separation from so many selfie sticks, we passed a couple of relaxing hours before making our way down the hill to our previously scouted shopping spots. Unmissable is Iain Mellis Cheese monger where we picked up essentials for the following day’s road trip. If only I could go back and buy out their stock of oatcakes… To round out the afternoon, we strolled through New Town which was a bit unremarkable. George street was quaint enough and our snack and scotch stop at The Rosehip provided enough taste of the city’s other side.
Feeling optimistic about our chances to score a table at The Scran and Scallie, an acclaimed, local gastropub, we taxied out through the residential streets. Luck was on our side again and we claimed the last spot in the bar for dinner, which ended up being much more lively than the dining area.Feeling like we’d successfully conquered the city’s sights, we had a celebratory scotch and relaxed before the next day’s adventurous drive to the Isle of Skye.