This may have been the best 36 hour trip I have ever been on. I did not expect to become so in love with one place in such a short period of time. If you ever have the opportunity or you are nearby Edinburgh it is an absolute must in the UK.
It was a bit of a rocky start, as we took to Newcastle drinking more than anticipated the day before. The 4:30 am wake up was a little ouch but it wasn’t until the train ride that I realized I should have chugged 5 coconut waters the night before. As Emily and I were pretending to sleep on the train we both were thinking about an appropriate place to be sick. I was about to sacrifice my boot. Alas, we survived and were able to let the fresh air cure our hangovers.
We still had 5 hours until our check in time at the Budget Backpackers Hostel, which was an amazing/cheap hostel, so we set out to make the most of it hungover and all. One thing about Edinburgh that was an adjustment was the stairs, you will be climbing stairs all day. Anyways, we climbed up a great deal of steps to the Edinburgh Castle which gave a beautiful overview of the city. And then we were off to experience Edinburghs New Europe Tour. Basically, this tour company provides free tours across Europe. It is entirely tip based, you choose how much the tour guide earned at the end. It is an affordable alternative to your average tour and we found that the tour guides put in more effort to have a fun, intriguing tour. Overall, it was great and our tour guide, Jen, was amazing. We learned heaps about Edinburghs gruesome history all the way to Edinburghs inspiration for Harry Potter. Just awesome. I walked away from the tour having a new appreciation for my surroundings and a better understanding of the city.
Back down all the climbed stairs, we made it back to the Grass Market for lunch. We found our favourite pie shop in Edinburgh, Auld Jock’s Pie Shoppe. My mouth is literally watering right now thinking about their pies and mashed potatoes. The food was incredible and very reasonably priced. They also serve haggis which is a traditional Scottish food, a must try. Who would have thought sheep lungs, heart and liver would make the perfect addition to any meal? Breakfast, lunch or dinner, haggis is there.
After a well deserved 3 hour nap, we were out again. We explored the Christmas Market, which is one of the top in Europe. There were tons of tiny vendors, mulled wine and activities for everyone. All smack dab in the middle of beautiful Edinburgh. For the week following Christmas, it was very much alive. From there we had a few pints and a meal to prepare ourselves for The Terror Tour. Straight spooky. The tour led us underground to newly discovered vaults that rest right below the city. Our expectations of the spook levels of this tour were exceeded. Edinburghs eerie, disturbing past was present. I would recommend this to anyone who has an open mind and likes to get out of their comfort zone. That was it for day one. We went to bed well fed and feeling a little off put that one of us may wake up with a scratch across our face as a result of the ghost tour.
Thankfully, we woke up only to feel well rested and excited about our activities for the day. We ate our haggis and eggs, put on our hiking shoes and set out to hike. We conquered Arthurs Seat, which is the peak of the hills surrounding the city, with an elevation gain of 251 m over the course of 1.6 km. It was relatively easy, but there were a few sit downs and water breaks along the way. The top was more than worth it. It gave us a 360° view of the whole city, the North Sea and beyond. For an extinct volcano, it was pretty cool. We proceeded to climb Calton Hill afterwards, which was a measly 10 minutes walk up a short hill. It does give another wonderful view of the city and has a few historic buildings on top. I would suggest doing both of these, not only do you feel well exercised but it is truly beautiful.
Another stop at Auld Jock’s Pie Shoppe, 5 hours of board games and beer at the hostel and Emily and I were off. This was one of my favourite trips thus far from my travels, mostly because of the company but Edinburgh contributed as well. As I said before, it is worth the trip if you are around the area. I was sad to say goodbye but I know that I will go back. Edinburgh was a magical place.