here is my trip report from my recent stay in edinburgh. I was in edinburgh for 4 days with a friend from SC.
Wednesday: Arrived at the airport about 1 hour late and sailed through customs. I think we were in a taxi within 20 minutes!! It was an overcast day with some drizzle, but not bad. We went straight to the place we stayed – Apartment by the Castle (see my review) and were met by our hosts. After settling in – we decided to venture out to Edinburgh Castle. There was a small queue, but nothing major so we purchased our tickets and collected our audio guides. We spent about 3 hours walking through the Castle grounds, castle, St Margaret’s Chapel and Military prison listening to our audio guides. The guides were really quite good and I highly recommend them. I took a lot of photos.
After the castle we headed to the Jolly Judge for a bite to eat and the first pint of my trip. This is a cute pub down one of the closes near the castle. After lunch we wandered down the Royal Mile and into St Giles - took more photos. Then headed to the apartment to freshen up. My friend had jet lag and I wasn’t ready to just sit around and rest, so I went back out. I headed down the “hill” (don’t let the tour books fool you – Edinburgh Castle is on a mountain!!!!). I went over to Princes St in New Town to check out Hector Russell for a kilt – thank you unclegus for the recommendation. I quickly located the shop, but it was closed for refurbishment. So I walked back up the “hill” and headed to the next kiltmaker on my list – the Woolen Mill on High St. After talking with them – I decided it was too pricey for me right now. I then headed to Bow bar for a pint (and a half). After Bow bar I headed down the hill to White Hart Inn for a pint(s) and a snack.
Thursday: We got up early and walked down to Waverly Station to catch the 8:33 to Stirling. Unfortunately it was raining pretty hard – but oh well. We had a pleasant train ride and watched all of the lovely scenery. At Stirling – we headed straight up to the Castle. Apparently, their “hills” are quite similar to Edinburgh! We picked up our tickets and audio guides and went into the Castle. By this time it was just an occasional drizzle. We spent about 3 hours touring around the entire place and I really enjoyed it. I can’t wait to go back one the palace exhibits are open (sometime in the next millennium according to the staff). I went to the Tapestry Centre and watched the unicorn tapestry being made. I also chatted for about 45 minutes with one of the staff members about the entire process – it was highly informative. I found out that the original tapestries are actually housed here in NYC at the Cloisters – who knew (maybe I should have since they are in NYC)?!?!?!?! Now I will have to visit there. We had a brief snack at the Castle before heading down the “hill”. We then toured around Argyle’s Lodging (which is free with your Castle admission). The Lodgings are really well done and quite fascinating.
Then we caught bus 63 out to the Wallace monument. The whole trip on the bus took about 30 minutes and we went by Stirling Bridge and the University. The bus driver let us off near the monument entrance and we walked the rest of the way. Unfortunately, we arrived just as the shuttle bus driver was taking his lunch break. So after debating for about 5 minutes – I decided to walk up the “hill” to the monument. At the top of the hill – I needed a pint and to catch my breathe. I settled on catching my breathe. Then I paid my admission and headed up the stairs! The audio guide was interesting, but too long in my opinion since I knew a lot of the history. The exhibits are good, but the top is breathtaking!!! I got some lovely shots of the surrounding area. Afterwards we caught the train back to Edinburgh. As we were leaving – the sun showed up! But in Edinburgh it was still misty. We walked back up the “hill” to have a pint at Deacon Brodies and then we decided to grab dinner there too.
After dinner we headed back to the apartment but stopped in the Ensign Ewart pub for a pint. We were the only people besides the staff. The pub is so full of history and had a lot of artifacts from Waterloo. Afterward, it was still early so I wasn’t ready for bed. I started with a pint at Bow bar. Quite a few pints later and many nice conversations with the locals – Bow bar closed. Some people recommended Finnegan’s Wake next door. It is an Irish pub. I listened to the band for a bit and maybe had a pint or two (why count on vacation??) then decided it was time to go home. I got a little turned around (ok, I admit – I was feeling a bit fuzzy) and ended up going out of my way - oops. But it was a lovely walk. Got home, took a shower and crashed.
Friday: I woke up late. We finally got going around 10:30. We decided to do one of those bus tours and use them for transportation. We ended up getting the 2 day bus pass which includes all tour buses with entrance to the Palace and Royal Yacht. We started on the Edinburgh tour bus that has a live guide – she was highly entertaining. The thing I don’t like about the bus is that you can’t get great pix because you are always moving. We got off at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. We stopped for a quick bite in the café (this was the only meal that I didn’t like my entire trip), then picked up our audio guide and were off. The tour is very interesting and I loved Mary, Queen of Scots rooms. The Abbey was stunning. I was disappointed that they close the gardens in the winter. I would have liked to have toured them. We grabbed another hop-on/hop-off bus. By the way – I hate the parliament building – too modern for me and the area. After this bus finished we hopped on the Majestic Tour bus and went to Leith. The homes on the way were stunning – I want one!! It was too late to tour the Royal Yacht – so we just did the bus tour and headed back to Waverly. Then we walked back to the Royal Mile to shop for gifts and to shower before dinner.
Around 6pm we headed back down the hill and went to Guilford Arms to meet friends. We grabbed a pint and were quickly joined by a few local TA posters. We chatted for a bit then headed upstairs for dinner. The food was lovely and I tried black pudding & haggis. I quite enjoyed the haggis. The black pudding was ok, but not as good. After a great dinner and conversations, we had another pint. After that – we decided that it was bed time and headed back up the “hill”.
Saturday: another late start!!!! On the plus side – I saw blue sky!!! It turned out to be a lovely day. We got up and headed Mary King’s Real Close. It was really interesting and well done. It is amazing to see what the closes looked like back in the day. Then we headed to Waverly and started looking for bus 15A (which is what the guidebook told us to get) to go to Roslin Chapel. After quite a lot of frustration and time wasted – we found out it is bus 15! We finally got the bus and arrived in Rosslyn at 1pm. At that point we were both hungry so we took unclegus’s suggestion and ate at the Original Rosslyn Inn and pub – very good and I recommend it.
After lunch we walked the short distance to the Chapel and toured around. It was a beautiful chapel, but I was pretty much done within 45 minutes. My mate was really into it – so we stayed until after 3. We then headed back to Edinburgh. We had dinner plans at the World’s End Pub. Since it was still early – I walked around to take pictures of things I couldn’t on the tour bus. I got some great shots of the Cannongate Kirk and other things such as the Firth of Forth – yes you could actually see Fife for the first time – I was beginning to doubt its existence.
After dinner we did the City of the Dead tour. The tour provided some interesting information, but wasn’t scary. After the tour we went to the Ensign Ewart for drinks. We sat around talking for a bit then I headed home since I had to be up early. Unfortunately around 3am some kids were hanging around outside and were extremely loud – which woke me up!
Sunday: more blue sky on the day that we were leaving. We checked out of the apartment at and headed to the hotel. Our host was kind enough to drive us to the airport instead of grabbing a taxi. Thank you again! We got to the airport and quickly checked in. We had a bit of time to shop and spend my left over £s. The flight left on time and I was home by noon Sunday.
Overall, I really enjoyed Edinburgh/Stirling, but would love to see more of the country next time. Yes, I will be back!!! Watch out Scotland!!! Thank you to everyone on TA for your help and answers to my numerous questions. My review of the Apartment by the Castle is now posted on TA. Thank you again to my lovely hosts.
Phew – I am exhausted from writing this and could really use a pint!!