I have been reading about Edinburgh and coming up amazing pictures and I can’t explain why exactly but for some reason I have always wanted to go, when I planned my trip out to Asia and knew I was going to fly out from London I immediately set my plans to visit Edinburgh. Something kept pulling me here, who knows really, but here I am. Finally flying to check it out this city. I booked some flights and after three bookings (long story, but the company, eDreams, I was booking with just sucks and had to go through hell to get my tickets) I got on a plane to Edinburgh from London. Apparently I bought them at the pretty high price of one hundred pounds, you can get them for 40-50 pounds but like I said, this was my little obsession. I flew out at 8:00 AM from London and got to Edinburgh at about 9:15, so a very short flight. Also, FYI, it is possible to get to Edinburg via train, it is more expensive to travel and takes longer but you can potentially book a one way overnight train to sleep on the way over there and the return could be an amazing experience to ride through the United Kingdom. I would’ve preferred the train, but with my limited time frame I just had to fly out, to get the most time in Edinburgh of course!
So I get there and right as I am getting off the plane I am almost immediately regretting coming because it was a -2 degree celsius, windy, rainy weather..I wasn’t mentally prepared for this, and you must be because Edinburgh doesn’t get much sun. According to stats Edinburgh’s warmest temperature will reach 19 degrees and of course only in the summer, but, the sun sits on top of the clouds which are always around, so the city is pretty much always overcast except for some sort of miracle that there is some sun for about four to six hours a day maximum, every once in a blue moon. Any who, I just hoped it would get better as soon as I got the city, it was still early morning. You can take the Airlink from the airport for four euros and takes you to the main street downtown and you can come back exactly the same way, follow the link for more info.
First thing I did, first thing I always do, is figure out my sleeping situation. For Edinburgh I found really good reviews for Budget Backpackers, a hostel near my location and this place has good reviews for a very obvious reason. The hostel is in excellent conditions, awesome installations, super funky, super cool staff and very good prices. I also made really good friends here, the hostel makes it very easy to make friends on your stay with the bar and dining room downstairs and then an awesome little chill out room to watch TV as well. I was there for two days and felt like this could be home for some odd reason, and this is a lot to say coming from me because I hate the cold! It also helps I had the sweetest roommate ever, she is from Australia and is just the nicest girl I’ve met so far. Any who, check out Budget Backpackers through this link, I would definitely stay here again and if you are traveling solo, even more of a reason to stay here.
After that was taken care of I got a map and recommendations from the super friendly staff and headed out to walk the city. It is not as big as you would imagine, but the minute I walked out I knew what all the fuzz was about. This place is without a doubt one of my top five cities, I would really consider moving here for a while, it’s like nothing I have ever seen before. Buildings are incredibly detailed, older or modern, both meticulously built to go with the landscape, to accommodate for the best view of the city. I personally like the fact that in the outer parts of the city, there is a very marked difference in architecture where they are keeping the older buildings, in good conditions of course, and building something very minimalist right next to it but I am sure many won’t agree.
There are many places to visit but you can seriously walk down the main street all the way to the end and back the other way to see the main attractions. Walk to the furthest end to get to Calton Hill, which I highly recommend. This is where I took all the panoramic pictures of the city you will see below. From the very top you can see the whole city with perfectly delineated streets, almost like a grid that leads all the way to the marina. On the other side you also get to see the grid of buildings but also the landscape, all the greenery and the mountains you don’t see at eye level. You have the city, the ocean and the mountains all in one single view, need I say more? Coming back from that direction you will pass by several cemeteries, churches and parks, like Princess Park, make sure to make time to see this one or you can actually just walk across it instead of going above, on the street. Another cool option was to climb Arthur’s Seat, about a two hour hike, but I didn’t do it personally, I had very little time and wanted to spend more time in the city.
One of the main attractions in the city is Edinburgh Castle of course, so what you want to do is walk or take the bus up here and then from there walk down the Royal Mile, a mile distance from the Queens castle to Edinburgh Castle, hence the name. Through the mile you’ll find several souvenir shops, coffee stops, and restaurants. You can also check out Camera Obscura for an exhibit of optical illusions and make sure to check out St. Giles Cathedral along the way as well.
Another thing I wanted to do, but this might be my personal obsession, were the libraries. Edinburgh has two libraries, they are not in any way extraordinary but it’s very different to what we are used in the states at least. Plus you get to see books from Byron, from Jane Austen, Shakespeare from years and years ago. Close to the library you will also come across the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery of Scotland with works from Van Gogh, Manet, Degas, Renoir and many more impressionist painters. If you keep going down that street you will get to Edinburgh University which is also quiet the experience. Walk around a bit to get the full range for parks and buildings. I particularly loved the park behind the school, at the end of the street, The Meadows. It’s huge but it is as green as I would ever imagine green to be, naturally that is. After the park you can just turn right and head back to the city, if you keep going on the same direction you were you will just hit the residential area and there is not much to see over there.
Besides this major attractions, there is a flea market, check for hours here, where you can find fresh haggis, a must try, and don’t even ask what it is, you just have to try it, it is Edinburgh’s trademark. If not, probably most of the restaurants in town will offer it. You can walk down one of the main streets on the west end, West Port St, this is restaurant row, you will find an array of cuisines and bars serving the most exotic beers and if you get to the end of the street I recommend checking out Victoria St as well, it’s an uphill street that curves all the way up and has buildings of al sorts of colors and textures but they are all packed up together so it makes it even more interesting. On this street I had some lunch at “oink”, yes like a pig. These are pulled pork buns with the sauce of your choosing and of course, haggis! There are many other food options up the street though. You can then come down the same way or loop around all the way up and you will get back to George IV St, which is where the museum and libraries are. After lunch you can check out Elephant and Castle tea house. To be honest, there is nothing really special about this place, I mean it’s a cute shop and they have okay coffee and tea but nothing to go crazy for EXCEPT this is now, according to locals, the place where Harry Potter was fictionally born. It is said that J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter frenzy, sat in this coffee shop, in the very back of the room, staring at Edinburgh castle to get inspiration on her first Harry Potter book. You will find a first edition book and hilarious writings on the bathroom walls about Harry Potter and the author. If you’re here, you might as well check it out.. y porque no?
I really just walked around, didn’t even use my map, it is very easy to navigate and everything is pretty much in the center of the city so you will bump into all of these I’ve mentioned. I got to do all of this in two days, so it’s up to you on how fast you want to go and also how much more you wan to see. Do come prepared for the outcast, windy cold weather! I assure you it is totally worth it.