Edinburgh. . . what a place!

I’m sitting in my hotel room in shock. . .  In shock at the discovery of this amazing city.

As a cool short winter break, and a kick ass Valentines Day present for my girlfriend, I decided to book a short break to Edinburgh, Scotland.

I opted to get the train up instead of flying there. Just to make the four day trip more of an adventure. The train ride up was outstanding, naturally I booked us into First Class, you’ve got to live a little right? We departed from Kings Cross about 10am, so it was still quite early. Seeing the English countryside was phenomenal. Whilst on the train up to Edinburgh I thought to myself “What job do I need to do to live in a HUUUUGE country house, on its own, in the middle of the countryside?” Unfortunately, during the duration of the train journey I never really found answer to my question. Although It was nice to be able to sit back, take a step back from things and relax. The East Coast Service was very good and I throughly recommend it to anyone travelling to Edinburgh by train.

Once we arrived in Edinburgh we then had to trek to our hotel, and I’m NOT kidding when I say trek. Naturally, being the organised person that I am I had already had a rough idea where our hotel was. That rough idea disappeared the moment I exited Waverley Station onto Waverley Bridge. I then decided to embrace the future, and modern technology,  and use the GPS on my phone. The walk was quite nice until we needed to head up a rather large flight of stairs and up a steep hill. Once we had ascended the stair case and navigated the steep hill we were both rather jubilant as the next part of our journey was downhill, and rather picturesque. As we walked through the Grassmarket area of Old Town, Edinburgh, it hit me. This is one place I would love to live. There seemed to be lots of quaint looking coffee shops / cafes. A couple of decent looking pubs and restaurants. For me the best part was the view. The view in this surrounding area is dominated by the mighty looking Edinburgh Castle.

The hotel we stayed in was fantastic. Upon arrival I was given the option to upgrade to get the “Unlimited Breakfast.” This was probably one of the best spontaneous choices of the whole trip. The member of staff presented me with a breakfast menu with a tasty looking breakfast and it was simply a no brainer. The view from our hotel room was pretty decent too. I had a feeling we would get a room without a view and was pleasantly surprised to have a good one.  Pasted below is a photo of the view. Just out of shot to the right hand side was a rather mean looking hill / mountain. (Or would that be Ben or Munroe? 😛 )

Our first full day in Edinburgh was met with one of the best hotel breakfasts i’ve ever had. Naturally, I felt a bit groggy / tired from the day before. And as most people who know me well know that i’m not the best morning person! After our epic breakfast we headed into town. First stop: Starbucks. Personally I think everyday isn’t quite complete until you’ve had a good coffee break. Once we had finished our quick pitstop we continued on to Edinburgh Castle. I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about Edinburgh Castle and it was nice to go there with an open mind with no real expectation. My first real issue was ticket collection. It was VERY misleading. Having already purchased my tickets online I thought I could just arrive, go to a ticket booth or self service machine and collect my tickets. It didn’t really work like that. I arrived and queued up at the ticket booth for about 15 minutes and was told that I couldn’t collect my online tickets. I was then pointed to the Visitor Information point where I had to queue up AGAIN and collect my tickets. I think some clearer direction is needed there! *Rant over!*  The castle itself was very impressive. Besides all of the epic views that surround the castle in every direction, my favourite part was “The Half Moon Battery.” As the name suggests it was a half moon shape filled with cannons. It looked brilliant! Shown below are a few photos from the castle and surrounding views.

Our second day was probably the best day of the whole trip. We went on a 12 hour coach tour which covered a 500 mile round trip of The Highlands and Loch Ness. It was probably one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever witnessed. The tour itself was fantastic. Our Tour Guide / Driver (called Peter) was fantastic. He gave lots of history, facts, and trivia about every area and town that we drove through. Peter even played some traditional Scottish folk music. A particular favourite of mine was The Ballad of Glencoe. It was nice to meet, and make friends with, other visitors to Edinburgh through our coach tour. The tour company I used was ScotLine Tours. They’re brilliant, I’m looking forward to our next trip to Edinburgh. We’re definitely participating in another coach tour! Below are a selection of photos from our day in The Highlands.

Our last day in Edinburgh was quite a relaxed one. We had our final epic hotel breakfast, gathered our things and checked out. We slowly made our way to Waverley Station. I was trying to “take in” the city one last time on our way. As the train departed from the station I felt a little sadness and I said to myself: “Edinburgh, you haven’t seen the last of me.”

Special thanks to: Everyone at http://www.scotlinetours.co.uk Especially to our driver and tour guide Peter (you’re an absolute legend!)

Edinburgh. . . what a place!