So, I recently just got back from a weekend trip to Scotland. I don’t get to Canada until early March and am showing my girlfriend around the UK at the moment. My Mum and step-dad missed my 21st whilst I was away and wanted to treat us, they thought a little trip up North would be perfect as its so different to anywhere in Australia, well what I saw of it anyway! The trip was amazing, we got lucky with the weather whilst we were up there – January/February is probably the worst month in the UK as its just cold & wet nearly all of the time – and it was the first time either of us had been in Scotland.
The Train Journey
We had booked our train tickets for the early afternoon on Friday. We had managed to snag ourselves some really cheap first class tickets as we booked the trip quite a while in advance, a bit bougie but I wanted to treat myself. From London Kings Cross Station the whole journey was just under 5 hours. A time we filled with too much gin and some shitty internet Monopoly. The train ride went quickly, for pretty much the entirety of it the views were magnificent out of either window. The further towards Edinburgh we got the nicer it seemed to become. Even the lunch was worth mentioning, I got the ‘zesty chicken’ wrap and it was great, not your average chicken wrap and both Mum and my Step-Dad got, apparently, the best Malaysian beef curry they had ever had. It could have been the gin talking but I really enjoyed the journey. When we arrived in Edinburgh we were very excited, couldn’t wait to see the city and where we were staying.
After a short walk through the city we got to our street. “Great King Street” was beautiful, everything was so so old! It looked like a street from a movie, the walls of all the buildings were made out of these great, big stone bricks. I could just imagine an old horse and carriage trotting down the road. As we walked down I noticed the huge windows on every floor each accompanied by massive, white shutters. We met the owner outside and she let us in to show us around. Going through the door really felt like we had gone back in time. The lobby was huge with these cold, grey stone stairs spiralling up through the block. We went up to our apartment on the first floor, the door was massive too. Everything in these buildings was huge, the size of the lounge was nearly double mine back home. The kitchen was okay, had everything you would need in it. They even left us some coffee and milk for the morning, a nice little touch. A lot of the furniture and decorations in the house were from Africa, the owner had told us that she did a lot of work of there. It was awesome. Our bedroom wasn’t that big, had just enough room for the double bed in it and the wardrobe. It was just so tall again, you needed a ladder to reach half way up the wall! We had to share a toilet between all of us, but it really wasn’t an issue. All in all the apartment was amazing and considering it was in the centre of the city it really wasn’t that expensive. It worked out to be £20 a night each if it were split four ways. There were cheaper places to stay but this was more of a little holiday for us all.
We went too Edinburgh castle on the Saturday, the one day we decided to go the sun packed in and the clouds opened – great. Nevertheless, the castle was incredible. I remember first seeing the castle whilst walking down the high street for the first time, it was magical. Firstly, we had to queue in the cold, freezing rain. It wasn’t that bad to be honest we were all very excited. From being in Australia for a year I hadn’t seen anything like it for ages and neither had Jonti – ever! After getting our tickets we walked on through. It was enchanting. All the small buildings made it seem like we were walking into a small village, if it wasn’t for the cannons along the edge of the castle walls I would of thought we were in one. We proceeded to follow this old windy, brick road where we came to a National War Museum. It was rich with old Scottish war memorabilia and was fascinating to walk around. Just as we went upstairs there was a video exhibition of the history of the Scottish army, and how it plays such a big part in Scotland’s story. This was amazing to watch as Jonti’s family tracks back from Australia to Scotland. After this we jumped straight back onto that windy road and carried on. We passed through an archway and it seemed as if we walked into a Harry Potter set. It was inspiring. Next up, we entered the old prison. It had been “restored” to look like what it had done years ago, it was not as i expected! The cells were actually a bit spacious and there was one room which just had a bunch of hammocks in it. Obviously I would rather not be held captive in it but I’d seen much worse! I think this particular part was for Scotsman who had deserted or something along those lines. Im sure there was worse places at the time. The final exhibition we went to was to see the Scottish crown jewels. Now I don’t think that any of us had ever seen something like this. Im not going to lie but it didn’t really interest me that much. We had to queue throughout this tiny building, I was cold, wet and hungry by this point. This being said when we finally got to the room it was pretty special. I couldn’t help but think of all the royalty who had worn the crown and held the sceptre. I wish I could of taken pictures but you can understand why! After this we headed out of the castle, in the cold, freezing rain to grab some lunch. Even though the weather was cruel to us the castle looked fantastic. It almost looked better in the rain I thought, maybe felt a bit more genuine.
Where We Ate
Over the weekend we tried to eat as much good food as possible. There were two meals which really stuck out. The best was our lunch at the “Whiski Rooms”. My favourite part was the cocktail menu – of course – which had some well known cocktails but with a Scottish twist. I started with a “Smoky Mary”. This was your usual bloody mary but with a shot of 10 year old Ardbeg on top. It was delicious but strong. My step-dad wanted the full “Whiski” experience and got a double whisky and coke, whilst the others got a gin and tonic. To start with we ordered some bread and olives to share. We got a pot of garlic and chill olives with a small loaf of light, fluffy sourdough and a black olive paste. It was simple but very tasty, full of flavour. Im a sucker for some good olives. As a main i got the fish and chips, you can never go wrong really. It was battered haddock the likes of which id never seen before. It was like a rolled up tube sliced in half and placed on top of some delightful mushy peas. There were homemade fries on top of something that tasted like a warm lemon sorbet. I never did figure out what it was. The decor of the restaurant was very stylish. It was dark but well lit, and very focused on Whisky, hence the name. There were old whisky advertisements over the walls along with some Scottish style decorations. The waiting staff were all very cheeky and all in all it was a great lunch. Good food and great people. The second meal was a dinner we had at “Petit Paris”. It was a tiny little restaurant, it could maybe fit 20/30 people in there. The tables had a plastic throw over it, that of which you would expect at a picnic and small glasses. It was simple and cute, I liked it. As we walked in we were loudly greeted “Bonjour!” by two of the waiting staff. They were very French. I almost expected good food as soon as we had walked in I had a feeling! To start we shared a portion of the mussels in blue cheese sauce and I had the soup of the day – sweet potato – I was much hungrier than the others. Someone call the astronomer, the mussels were out of this world! The soup was very good, nothing too fancy but what do you expect with a potato soup. For my main I got the steak. No exaggeration but it was the best steak I had ever eaten out. Normally I’m very picky with steaks as I cook them all shift when I’m working, but this was perfect. The pepper sauce was perfect and the sautéed potatoes it came with were also full of flavour. The drinks were nothing fancy just your standard drinks but the restaurant was cosy and it worked well, would definitely recommend.
The City As A Whole
For a first time trip to Edinburgh I can’t believe I’ve not been there more often. It was a beautiful city with much to offer. There were times I could of done some things cheaper but it was a late birthday present and it was thoroughly enjoyed. Im surprised its not more spoken about in the travel community and I think anyone who goes there will reap the good times out of it – regardless of the weather! Although, it does help.