Having recently returned from my travels to Scotland I felt compelled to share with you my experience of visiting a truly wonderful city.
The premise of this trip; to celebrate the fact my brother is tying the knot later this year and so I was in fine company best described as the ‘lads and Dad’s’. In our two night’s residence we made the best of what was a fantastic weekend in possibly the nicest city I’ve ever visited. Here’s a brief highlight style review of some things to do in Scotland’s capital.
After an early start (pre 5am) the majority of our group assembled at London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 for a 07:45 departure to Edinburgh Airport.
Side note: There is a whole British Airways saga that almost threatened to hamper our efforts for this trip, you shall hopefully see a very scathing review of their very below par customer service of what is not a bad airline or even flying experience; if you can get on a damn flight)
Terminal 5 of Heathrow is the flagship home of British Airways and although it looks shiny and relatively new, it was busy and overall Airports have no way of looking particularly fancy for what they are. For the first twenty years of my life I did reside a stone’s throw away from the place so my bias is what it is. The terminal’s Wetherspoon’s (A budget chain of UK pub’s or the Walmart of UK pubs) was busy with some travelers beginning their trip with an early 6am beer. Me, I chose a cup of tea and not a lot else. I’m a nervous flyer so I’ll eat if I survive…
With a flight time of less than 60 minutes our time in the air I found to be relatively comfortable and short. We were on the ground again just before 9am, making what would be an 8 hour car journey from London seem a no brainer. Internal UK flights for the win!
Edinburgh Airport to the city Center via tram – 30 min or less
Located only half an hour from Edinburgh city center we made the short walk to the airport tram station and got ourselves a reasonably priced return ticket (for our way back on the Sunday) for £8 – probably better than any taxi fare it’s as direct as a railway and more frequent (every 15 mins). An unlimited day ticket excluding airport travel is just £4.
The tram system in Edinburgh is new and a spacious relaxing way to travel right into the very heart of this Victorian version of a smaller New York. Cobble side streets accompanied by wide avenues make this city a spacious and spread out gem. It feels like a regional town but has a certain charm, the hustle and bustle doesn’t seem overcrowded. There are large park sized gardens spread out amongst a city which was designed with some real thought.
Princes Street to the Hotel – 6 min walk
After a thirty minute tram ride we had made our way into the very heart of Edinburgh, with the high placed castle to our right and the main drag known as Princes street amongst us. It has the usual shops and places all high streets do but just on a grander Scottish scale with that picturesque castle overlooking it all.
We made our way towards the newer side of town and only a few blocks over did we find Queen street and our digs for the weekend; a travelodge – cheap and cheerful no nonsense accommodation. Looking over some quaint gardens and a part of Victorian terraced street the hotel is a room only kind of deal but there is no need for a restaurant or a bar because they surround us. The rooms were spacious, clean and simple.
Brunch – ‘Browns’ located on George Street
Our ‘lad’s and Dad’s’ tour started off relatively civilized and that made for the theme of the entire weekend. ‘Browns’ is pleasant ‘high end’ looking bar and restaurant that happily took our table for 9 on both this day and the next for an extensive brunch menu that boasts not only eggs Florentine, Benedict and Royale, but there’s also a host of smoothies, vegetarian options and of course steak and eggs!
The service both times we visited was spectacular and we were even given a semi private table tucked away at the back of the place. Located just minutes from our hotel, it was a welcome treat after an already long day.
Afternoon drinks – ‘The Alexander Graham Bell’ – Wetherspoons
Our second Wetherspoons of day consisted literally across the cobbles to this not to large and not too small watering hole where we had a handful of beers. The atmosphere was good, most of the punters were locals in rugby shirts laying in wait or preparation for the day’s game later on and overall this pub was on the better scale of Whetherspoons out there.
Whisky Tasting Experience – ‘The Royal McGregor’ – Located on the ‘Royal Mile’
As Ron Burgundy once said ‘when in Rome’ and the same goes for Edinburgh when referencing to whisky. We found ourselves (as part of my best man organizing endeavors) booked in a quaint compact pub which not only offered a unique whisky tasting experience but they also provided great value for money food. Located in the older part of town and up a partially steep hill (non walkers may struggle) known as the ‘Royal Mile’.
Our evening passed tremendously quick after tasting three types of whisky initially, all from different areas of Scotland. With reference to the map, the tastes and styles vary depending on where they are distilled and created. We then treated ourselves to another three rounds because as Rob Burgundy said…
I highly recommend this place for anyone looking to get the full Scottish culture experience along with perhaps getting slightly merry for their efforts. Our hosts at the pub were fantastic and hospitable throughout.
And so that wrapped up our first day in Edinburgh, stay tuned for part two where I review a German bier keller experience!