Monday March 27th
With only 2 days in Edinburgh, we had to jam everything in pretty tight. Again, we were extremely lucky with the weather because it was supposed to be raining most of the time we were there, but we saw no rain!
The hostel was pretty ok… at 10 £/night I’ll take anything though! The room smelled like feet because we had guys in the same room but the bathrooms were big and clean which was the most important part.
We woke up early on the first day and ate breakfast at our hostel café before attending the 10am walking tour. As we stepped outside, we were greeted with a view of a the castle and paused for a second to admire it – some random guy on the street says, “beautiful, isn’t it?” as he passed by. Our guide, Ben, was so stereotypically Scottish that it hurt. He had a huge red mustache and wore a plaid hat and shirt. His accent was also so thick it was hard to understand him sometimes and you could tell that he was trying to slow down and pronounce things all the way. There were a lot of places roped off because the next Avengers movie was being filmed! We didn’t seen any of the actors, but we saw a stunt double I think strapped into a harness.
Ben was really interested in literature so that was one of the themes of the tour – it makes sense because many famous authors have written works inspired by Edinburgh, while in Edinburgh, or that take place in Edinburgh – Even J.K. Rowling! The national animal of Scotland is a unicorn… here it is^ on top of a pillar and that really explains how fun and goofy the Scottish people are.
We walked through Greyfriars Kirk and graveyard and it was really beautiful. Since the graveyard is built on a hill and it rains so often, it is not uncommon for bones to come up out of the soil. Another area that has inspired the names for characters in the Harry Potter books and even Ebenezer Scrooge. There is a real man, Mr. Scroogie’s headstone was mistaken to say “A mean man” and that gave Dickens the idea for the character even though the real headstone said “meal man”. Another fun story from the graveyard was about Bobby the dog. This was a beloved dog who stayed by his owner’s grave and there is a little statue in remembrance of him. Bobby even got the keys to the city because he is so adored by Edinburgh.
After the tour was over we asked the guide for some advice on what to do for the rest of our trip since we had so little time. He told us about a restaurant called Mums that serves traditional Scottish food but is also focused on sourcing locally so we went there for lunch. Jordan got the shepherd’s pie and I got some type of stew with puff pastry on it and both of them were soooo delicious and hearty. The people working there were also awesome and super friendly and we even got free water for once! Free water is something I’ve been missing and it is custom in the UK as it is back home in the states.
Next, Ben the tour guide told us that there was a small hike up to a place called Arthur’s seat. Now, I am used to people using the word “hike” to do things like hiking up to Piazzale Michelangelo for sunset but it is really just a walk and a slight incline for 15 minutes tops. Hiking up to Arthur’s seat was hard work! We were not dressed properly to be hiking and there were a couple moments where we needed to use both hands.
After hiking for about an hour up, the view was really worth it. You could see the whole city and the water. It was really windy up there so we were scared we were going to fall off when we took photos! I bought a puff ball hat right before going on this hike and I was scared it was going to fly away. We spent awhile up here and walked down to a flatter grassy part and laid down here to enjoy the sun and the view.
We walked down and at the bottom of the hill/mountain there was a big park and a lake and there were so many people out exercising and playing with their dogs. We were probably stopped here for twenty minutes watching people play with their dogs, it was great.
It was starting to get cold so we treated ourselves to some of the best tea I’ve ever had. It was a hipster tea bar place where we both got our own pots of loose leaf tea and it was so refreshing. We stayed here for about an hour relaxing and using the wifi before doing the last thing Ben recommended.
He told us to walk up to see the sunset at Calton Hill where there was the beginning of another Parthenon being built but it was never finished because they ran out money. Getting up here was a piece of cake and we climbed up onto the National Monument to wait for the sunset. It is actually a lot higher up than it looks and we had to have people help pull us up.
We met a girl who was traveling by herself and she had brought a bottle of wine and shared it with us before parting ways. She was really cool!
It was starting to get really cold and we walked back to our hostel to rest our tired and cold feet before going out to dinner. After eating traditional food and feeling really heavy and gross all day (especially right before our hike) we decided we missed Italian food and went to an Italian restaurant. I downed a HUGE plate of spaghetti and Jordan had an appetizing salad.
Two of our roommates Casey and Alyssa happened to be in Edinburgh at the same time as us so we had them come grab a drink with us at the hostel bar. We could hear the hostel bar bumping music from our room and it seemed cool – we went up there and we were essentially alone but we grabbed a drink anyways before heading out to a cool pub that was playing live music. I was surprised that they carded us pretty hard here even to get into the pub. It was an open mic night which was good and bad because the performers were only allowed to do a couple songs – some people were great and others I could live without. Alyssa was tired and wanted to go home, but it was great to catch up with Casey and hear about her spring break adventures so far!
We walked Casey home in the surprisingly quiet town and got some well deserved sleep.
Tuesday March 28th
This morning we slept in a little bit by accident because our alarms were too quiet since we didn’t want to wake up our roommates. Good thing we had a relaxing day planned!
We started off with some muffins and coffee at the hostel breakfast bar and then walked a couple blocks over to see the George Heriot’s School. It is a really famous and expensive private school that J.K. Rowling’s kid still goes to. While we creepily walked by there was a girl walking in with full uniform and two red French braids. We did a lot of walking around and the weather was looking gloomy so we stopped into the National Museum of Scotland because it was fo free!
This museum was actually awesome, it was very kid friendly and most things had a sign that said “please touch me!”. We spent a really long time in here being kids and playing with stuff. After nearly falling asleep on a couch in the more traditional history section, it was time to have lunch. We went to a barbecue place called Oink and had two delicious pulled pork sandwiches with homemade sauce and sage stuffing.
After a lot of walking around, we ventured over to the new side of the city and sat in a pretty park with yellow flowers blooming. It was great to rest our feet because I had actually pulled something in my ankle the day before with all of my climbing and it was killing me today! We sat here for awhile chatting and admiring the scenery. We decided it was time to get up and do something so we walked around the new area and did some shopping! I bought an ankle brace which actually made my foot hurt more because it was swollen. We went into several grocery stores to explore – they had so many options! I wasn’t used to huge grocery stores like that anymore and it was so fun buying snacks and candy. We also discovered that Edinburgh had TkMaxx – the same thing as TjMaxx and it felt like we were at home while we were there.
Some more walking and exploring and it was already dinner time and we went to a bar to get some more traditional food and ciders before heading in for an early night. I am adding Edinburgh to one of my top favorite places because we had such a good time here. There is a lot to see and a lot to do but not too much to make it stressful. The people here are also so friendly and they speak English which is a plus.
We had to catch the bus early in the morning and the sun had barely risen. This is my least favorite part about staying in hostels – we had to collect our things and be completely quiet in the morning because we were in a room of sleeping people. The town was still asleep too as we sprinted to the bus stop up and down hills with all of our things. We were all gross and sweaty by the time the bus came but we made it! The bus to the airport was short and so was the flight to Dublin – next stop Galway!