So on our mini tour of the UK, one of our first stops was Edinburgh. We only managed to spend one evening here and half a day and I really wish we'd been able to spend more time in this beautiful city because it really was stunning. Edinburgh is somewhere I'd always wanted to visit, so I do feel blessed that I got to at least experience some of it. I've already planned to return, hopefully one day for NYE.
Edinburgh is one of those places where you don't have to do anything to enjoy yourself. Just walking around it's quirky cobbled streets is enough of an attraction; I could have spent hours wandering around the city's walls, glancing in awe at it's beautiful scenery. Edinburgh had a really nice feel to it; everyone was so friendly and it felt like a traditional party town to me. To me, it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate old school ; forget about alcohol and clubbing, Edinburgh was all about grabbing a pint and sitting in a local pub catching up with your old friends. Unfortunately we only had time to visit one little pub in our short time there, but I can tell you now that the beer was yummy and the staff were very friendly! It also offered a bit of everything and it was so lovely to see such a diverse range of shops. Where we live, it's very much considered a 'dying town' with new businesses failing or shops closing everyday. But Edinburgh was booming and also had a lot to offer with shops with quirky names and even awesome costume shops.
Edinburgh is rich in history and had we not been attending a gig in the evening, there's no doubt we would have joined on to one of it's many ghost walks. The castle itself drew us in too, but unfortunately we just didn't have enough time for a visit here either. However, on the way to the attraction we were actually going to, we ended up taking a slow stroll around Princes Street Gardens which were overlooked by the castle.
This was the perfect way to enjoy Edinburgh in all it's glory for free, even though we were right in the center of the city. The gardens were beautiful and everything looked stunning with all the red and orange leaves. We actually couldn't have picked a better time of year to go, although I think it would look beautiful in the snow too! It was the perfect way to view the castle in an alternative view.
Although we didn't have enough time to visit the castle properly, Harriet's sister did suggest Camera Obscura and World of Illusions which was, you guessed it, an attraction/museum filled with optical illusions. I actually love stuff like this so be able to explore five floors was really fun for me! They had all sorts of things you could do, such as cameras that would show you what you'd look like older and younger or as a chimp, a mirror maze, a rooftop viewing platform which gave a fantastic view of Edinburgh and more. The most hilarious thing was the giant vortex tunnel which was basically a little bridge that went through a moving/spinning tunnel. Despite the fact that the bridge did not move at all, we walked through and it took us a good five minutes to get out again because it was that trippy. We could FEEL the bridge moving, so much so that we even fell over, even though it was all in our minds. It was hilarious and I can't imagine what it would have looked like to anyone watching.
|In the light tunnel|
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions was the ideal attraction for a rainy day and even offered a few pretty views of the castle too. It was something a bit different and really fascinating so something I'd really recommend.
|View from the top of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions|
I think we must have stayed in the coolest boutique hotel in the city. The Grassmarket Hotel is without a doubt THE place to stay in Edinburgh. It's sat slap bang in the middle of the city and is just so quirky and different. From the chalkboard walls (which we may or may not have defaced with, um, rude drawings - oops...) which the cleaners add a brand new Sodoku to daily, to the secret bookcase door that we noticed in reception - this hotel just screamed awesomeness. We absolutely loved it. The rooms were quirky but so warm and comfy too and the staff were so welcoming. We stayed for a few chats with them and they were genuinely interested in our story, why we were travelling etc. The vibrant part of Edinburgh was right on our doorstep too, just next door was a lovely Irish pub and the hotel was actually just around the corner from the venue as well.
This hotel really had the personal touch. There was loads of tea to choose from and when I couldn't find any chalk in the room (which I later found when I bothered to look properly), the staff offered to go down to the shop and buy some more! The reception was inviting too with little window seats if you wanted to sit down and have a chat and the rooms had all the basics and more (hairdryer, iPod dock - with speakers in the bathroom too, man I had a lot of fun singing along to music in the awesome waterfall shower).
They also offer super cheap rooms at mates rates sometimes if you sign up to their mailing list, and I'm going to really regret telling you all about this now because I bet you'll all snap them up before I have the chance to!
The Grassmarket hotel is the perfect boutique hotel for a girly weekend away or a little break with your friends and there's no doubt that I'll be returning one day.
Finally, as stated before, Edinburgh is ideal for long evenings spent with friends in cosy inviting pubs, drinking the local beer! We spent a good few hours drinking with one of the support bands in an Irish club right next door to the venue which also held open mic nights and the drinks were affordable too. However, even though we didn't have a lot of time to go out 'clubbing', so many people recommended a local rock club to us which we checked out. The Hive is like a gigantic underground club, we thought there was just one room - we were wrong. If I remember rightly there were 2 or 3 different bars all connected by these random tunnels and again, the drinks were really cheap here. They played the best rock anthems too from Blink 182 to The Offspring and we were right at home here because it reminded us of a local rock club at home. It was PACKED too, so clearly it's the place to go on a night out!
We really wish we had longer in Edinburgh but we seemed to pack in a lot in such a short time. I hope you enjoyed my 'Edinburgh at a glance' feature and if you're ever in the area, I'd recommend the Grassmarket hotel, The Hive and everywhere else mentioned. This guide is based on the fact that we went out on the cheap so if you're just looking for a really cheap weekend away that still gives you a real feel of the city well here's how.
Let me know what you think with a comment below or if you have any other recommendations.
The Royal Mile
15-17 Niddry Street
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