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Hunting the Edinburgh Experience

Good day to all of you, my friends! I hope that you are feeling fine and the weather matches your mood!

I recently had a quick getaway to Edinburgh, a city that I know well. My short visit reminded me how much I love this compact capital of Scotland!

Edinburgh has less than 1.3 Million residents in the metropolitan area but it is one of the oldest cities in the United Kingdom. Castle Rock has been a strategic site since time immemorial. As early as 600 AD, the Votadini tribe had their tribal capital there at a site they called “Din Eidyn” – ‘Din’ being the Brittonic name for ‘fort’. When the Saxons captured the site that added their name for a fort, “burgh” to the existing name and it became Edinburgh. The site became a seat of royalty in 1124 when King David I erected a castle and palace there and it has been a seat of power ever since.

In the 18th Century, the city was known as the “Athens of the North” because of its neo-classical architecture, its reputation for learning and philosophical debate. The coffee houses of the period saw debates between such luminaries as Adam Smith, David Hume, James Hutton and Joseph Black. In fact, much of the philosophical basis sparking the quest for liberty in the last years of that century can be said to have formed in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh - Traditional pub

Greyfriars Bobby: an iconic Edinburgh traditional pub

Today, Edinburgh is known more for its festivals than its philosophers. Every year, Edinburgh starts with Hogmanay – its five day celebration of New Year. Then, there is the Beltane Fire Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the International Film Festival and the  International Science Festival. The largest festival, though, is known as “The Fringe” and it is an offshoot from the Edinburgh International Festival that takes place at the same time. The Fringe is an art show that features cutting edge comedy artists in dozens of venues across the city.

Here’s a pro-tip: Hotels book really early for the Edinburgh International Festival and The Fringe. So, to obtain a reasonable price, you need to either book way ahead or stay further away from the festival. If you book late, consider staying in Dunfermline or Falkirk. They are both beautiful and close enough to commute into Edinburgh for the fun!

When you’re not attending festivals, there is much to see and do. Of course, you must see the historical sites of Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyrood, the National Museum of Scotland and the five National Galleries of Art. When museums begin to all look the same, however, check out some of my favourite sites in Edinburgh:

  • Cockburn Street – this picturesque street in Old Town is perfect for strolling and window shopping.
  • The Edinburgh Vaults – this underground warren of rooms and passageways was formed when the bridges were constructed in the 18th They became a place of “dark deeds” and are reported to be haunted. Note: some of the vaults are even used for venues during The Fringe!
Edinburgh Cockburn Street.

Cockburn Street is great for strolling!

  • The Edinburgh Zoo – this is a super cool facility that even has a pair of pandas!
  • Scotch Whiskey Experience – at the top is the Royal Mile, this experience gives you the opportunity to understand the production of Whiskey while tasting some of its best examples!
  • Ravelston Woods – at the edge of Edinburgh and near the zoo, this nature reserve is known for its bluebell woods.
Edinburgh - Ravelston Woods

Ravelston Woods bluebells are beautiful!

Reaching Edinburgh is easy. You can fly into Edinburgh International Airport, which is a compact and convenient facility. Also, you can take a fast train from London or Manchester to provide more gateway opportunities. Public transport is through trains and Lothian Buses but taxis and ride-sharing is also widely available.

Hotels are generally moderately priced, unless you are booking during one of the many festivals of the year. There are some fabulous luxury hotels including; the Edinburgh Grand Hotel, the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria and The Bonham. I like the more moderately priced Angel’s Share because it has a fantastic bar connected to the property.

Here’s another pro-tip: The Royal Yacht Britannia, which is permanently moored in Edinburgh opened The Fingal Hotel earlier this year, a luxury floating hotel close to the Yacht. It has great service in a unique setting!

Restaurants are excellent, catering to any tastes and are inexpensive. I recommend Whigham’s Wine Cellars for a wonderful meal in an atmospheric setting. There is also Ostara for authentic Scottish cuisine, Aizle and Condita.

Edinburgh - Scotch Whiskey Experience

The Whiskey Experience is intoxicating fun!

You will undoubtedly be looking for the best tasting whiskey but remember that Edinburgh gin is also quite popular. Head to a traditional pub to find unique whiskey options that are coveted by each premises. If you want a cool bar, though, check out some of my favourites including; The Devil’s Advocate in Advocate Close, the Voodoo Rooms and Usquabae which has more than 400 different labels!

Edinburgh Brewdog

Brewdog offers a relaxed attitude filled with wit and fun!

Here’s a final pro-tip: Edinburgh is home to my favourite beer producer, Brewdog Brewery, which has several fun locations. They offer fantastic beers with creative names like “Mistletoe Mafia”, “5AM Saint” and “Elvis Juice”. Brewdog even has a beer Advent Calendar for the festive season. Spend a fun afternoon sampling their wares!

Edinburgh has been inspiring writers for centuries like Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and, more recently, J. K. Rowling. I hope it inspires you too!

Love,

 

Isabella

 

Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Edinburgh Castle, The Fringe, The Edinburgh Vaults (https://www.visitscotland.com, https://www.edinburghcastle.scot, https://www.edfringe.com )

Where to stay: Edinburgh Castle, The Fringe, The Edinburgh Vaults (https://www.visitscotland.com, https://www.edinburghcastle.scot, https://www.edfringe.com )

Where to party: Usquabae, The Devil’s Advocate, Brewdog Brewery (https://www.usquabae.co.uk, https://devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk, https://www.brewdog.com )

Where to eat: Whigham’s Wine Cellars, Ostara, Aizle (https://whighams.com, https://www.ostaracafe.co.uk, https://www.aizle.co.uk

What to buy: Scotch Whiskies, of course

Enjoy the Edinburgh Experience!
Isabella’s Checklist

What to see: Edinburgh Castle, The Fringe, The Edinburgh Vaults (https://www.visitscotland.com, https://www.edinburghcastle.scot, https://www.edfringe.com )

Where to stay: Edinburgh Castle, The Fringe, The Edinburgh Vaults (https://www.visitscotland.com, https://www.edinburghcastle.scot, https://www.edfringe.com )

Where to party: Usquabae, The Devil’s Advocate, Brewdog Brewery (https://www.usquabae.co.uk, https://devilsadvocateedinburgh.co.uk, https://www.brewdog.com )

Where to eat: Whigham’s Wine Cellars, Ostara, Aizle (https://whighams.com, https://www.ostaracafe.co.uk, https://www.aizle.co.uk

What to buy: Scotch Whiskies, of course

Enjoy the Edinburgh Experience!

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