When we learned that the husband will be sent to the UK for a week (of course I had to be tagged along!), we planned of arriving couple days ahead for a mini vacation. Since it’s our 6th month as a married couple, we opted for somewhere romantic… in our own definition of the word, lol. We thought of Scotland and had to pick between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Eventually, the latter won. We feel more attracted to the capital’s history, architecture and… Harry Potter connection. So, with a game face on, a scrimped budget and no proper itinerary, we’re in for an adventurous weekend in Edinburgh!
Dubai to London, London to Edinburgh
Straight from a 7-hour flight from Dubai (via Gulf Air), we headed to King’s Cross Station and bought the earliest train to Edinburgh. We also booked the return tickets, which can be used (once) any day at any time for a month. The cost was £209, but we managed to snag a good deal for traveling as a couple and another additional discount for… providing ID photos! We paid £179 in total. Note to self: always bring extra photos when traveling!
The train ride took about 4 hours and 43 minutes, arriving in the busy Edinburgh Waverley Station on a rainy afternoon. However, the showers didn’t dampen our spirits as we were told that all 4 seasons could happen in a day in Edinburgh!
Where we stayed: Destiny Student Brae House
Our home for the weekend was a student housing building in Abbeyhill called Destiny Student Brae House. It’s fairly new and just recently opened its doors to travelers this summer. It’s a student accommodation for the rest of the year, thus the layout and size of the rooms.
Floors are divided into flats and further subdivided into rooms. Each flat has a huge, common living room and pantry. It’s a no-frills place to stay at – clean and very basic rooms (just a bed, small closet, desk and chair) with ensuite bathroom. It costs £80 for 2 nights.
Day 1: First impressions
It’s basically late afternoon when we arrived so our first agenda was a proper pub food. We popped in World’s End at The Royal Mile just in time before it gets too crowded. It’s interesting to note that the pub was named as such because its location was previously outside the fortified walls of Edinburgh. We had fish and chips, of course, and it’s huge and delicious!
Since it’s raining crazy, we didn’t go too far and just marveled at the beautiful Old Town. There are a lot of things happening in this part of the town. The sound of bagpipes that are heard everywhere in the city, street performers on the sides, and the outstanding architectural wonders that are basically just everywhere.
We made a stop at St. Giles Cathedral. There was a choir practice when we swung by and it’s magical! The blue vaulted ceiling is a refreshing sight.
Before we even know it, we’re already at the foot of Edinburgh Castle. Then, as predicted, rain started pouring again. This time we got a little sick of it so we hailed a bus home. And what do you know – we spotted a Sainsbury’s along the way. My craving for their brownies couldn’t wait for tomorrow… and Mrs. Tilly’s tablet/fudge, too!
Day 2: The longest day ever
Our second day in Edinburgh was the longest. We were surprised to see a very quiet town at 7:30 in the morning. Perhaps, coz it’s a Saturday? Most cafés and restaurants were still shut, too, so we walked until we find an open one. Along the way, along The Royal Mile, we discovered a close (alleyway) that opens up to a lush English Garden, the Durban’s Close Garden.
Luckily, we found Circus Café, located near World’s End. We had our fill of hearty traditional Scottish breakfast – sausage, bacon, beans, fried egg, hash brown, tomato, mushrooms, black pudding (blood sausage), haggis (sheep’s heart, liver, lungs and stomach), potato scone and toast.
Pumped to conquer Edinburgh’s slopes (hello steep ramps and stairs!), we ascended to Pleasance before making a turn at Drummond St. There lies a section of the Flodden Wall, the fortification that once walled Edinburgh.
We took the back streets and found ourselves back in Cowgate, then to the intersection of Victoria St and Grassmarket. Drawn by the colorful shops along Victoria Street, we made a turn and explored its two-level façade.
Up the steps and we reached Castlehill, the part of town where all the action is. Since we’re planning to see the castle in the afternoon (we’re hoping for a clear sky), we trekked down to Princes Street Gardens.
Just a thought – How awesome would it be?
Here’s a side story. The day before, I asked my husband how cool would it be to see a familiar face while in an unfamiliar town. I, then, posted a photo of our pub dinner in Facebook and surprise, surprise! We learned one of our schoolmates is in town and we had an instant get together the following day. We met in Waverley Station near the Princes Street Gardens for coffee. So yeah, our schedule for the day was briefly interrupted with a nice catch up with an old friend. It’s cool – I hope it happens again in our future travels.
Sun’s up! The day has just started!
Just as we said our goodbyes, we’re ecstatic that the sun has finally showed up! We returned to the places we’ve been (seriously!) to take photos of it on a clear day. We couldn’t be any happier.
Off to Edinburgh Castle and we were thrilled to see queue has subsided. The views up there were fantastic, especially since the sun’s up. The blue sky was just the perfect background to the monochromatic town below.
Two hours later, after exiting the castle, we went down to Grassmarket for a quick (late) lunch. Every Saturday, the street operates a market selling fresh produce and local crafts. Food was awesome at an affordable price. We’re at the right place at the right time.
In a nearby shack, we had fried Mars! Yes the chocolate, yes it’s covered with batter then deep-fried. Sounds sinful, looks sinful and tasted very, very sinful that I felt the need to burn the calories for the remaining part of the day.
We took a bus to The Shore in Leith. My father used to dock here when he was still working as a seaman. From there, we walked along the Water of Leith, following the tree-lined walkway. We were searching for Dean Village only to find out that we were on the wrong side of the waterway. The village we’re looking for was just at the foot of the castle and it’s a 55-min walk from where we were. Sometimes, Google Maps can’t be trusted. :s It was quite a romantic walk though.
Sunset on Arthur’s Seat
By that time, we felt exhausted so we returned to the dorm. But the sun was all up and we couldn’t afford to waste it. Then an idea half awesome (nice views and experience), partly crazy (it’s 8:00 PM already!) entered my head – let’s climb Arthur’s Seat! Hey, Google Maps said it would take 37 minutes to get up there.
The climb was easy peasy for the first 10 minutes and we’re pretty confident about the hike. But as we hit the 15th minute mark, the climb was getting tough. We made it to the top an hour after. Yes, Google Maps betrayed us for the second time that day. Ugh. The views, however, were worth the sweat, panting and the life of my big toe nail. The sunset was fabulous and romantic.
We managed to get back to base before it got completely dark. Time check – 11 PM and we’re in for a serious midnight grub. We couldn’t find any restaurant open except for Bene’s in Canongate who’s open only for takeaway! C’mon!
Day 3: One last look
After an uber long Saturday, we decided to take it slow on our final day. We had a nice breakfast at The Holyrood 9A. Their breakfast rolls are the bomb – very filling, tasty and super affordable! The interiors are on point as well.
With sore muscles from last night’s hike, we couldn’t afford to walk longer so we took the bus to Greyfriars Kirkyard. Guess whom we paid a visit to – the real-life Voldemort!
We’re back in #London, but my mind is still in Edinburgh. I miss the warmth of the locals, the music from bagpipes and quiet walks on graveyards. Yesterday, we paid the real #TomRiddle a visit in #Greyfriars – as expected, someone vandalized his tomb with #Voldemort’s name ? #HeWhoMustNotBeNamed #HarryPotter #aDVentureinEdinburgh
We also saw Greyfriars Bobby, just outside the graveyard. The statue was of a dog whose heartwarming story very much resembles Hachiko’s.
Another Harry Potter find is The Elephant House, the café where J.K. Rowling penned the first two books of the wizard’s saga.
Our next and last stop in Edinburgh was the Scottish National Gallery. It features art works from different eras, from local artists and not.
Interesting wall decked with busts of famous people ?? #aDVentureinEdinburgh . . . . . #aDVentureinUK2016 #Edinburgh #Scotland #UnitedKingdom #igersedinburgh #edinphoto #thisisedinburgh #wanderlust #vsco #vscocam #uaebloggers #art #sculpture #liveauthentic #neverstopexploring #travelgram #travel #beautifuldestinations #darlingescapes #instatravel #passionpassport #lovetheworld
Just as we were leaving for Waverley Station, rain started pouring. It’s a good thing though that we can leave at any time. Despite the inconveniences of rain showers, our weekend in Edinburgh was nothing short of exciting and fun. We hope to be back, not only in Edinburgh, but to see the rest of the beautiful Scotland.
PS. I forgot to mention about Scottish tablets – one of the best things that has ever happened to this trip!
PPS. We obviously had a disorganized trip so follow this itinerary at your own risk :3