As part of my quest to explore my back yard whilst I am back in the UK, I planned a little trip up to the country of bagpipes to visit one of my fellow reps from Scotland while we are both at home. As I live in the North-East of England, Scotland isn’t a great distance from me. My friend lives on the West coast of Scotland and so we decided to meet in the middle and visit Edinburgh.
I have visited Edinburgh twice before in my life. Both times it was to attend the annual Edinburgh Fringe Festival to satisfy the theatre geek in me, both times I was skint so couldn’t do much and both times I was underage. Therefore, although I have been to the Scottish city twice, I had yet to explore the city, taste the food and sample the cocktails.
I arrived into Edinburgh Waverley just before 11:30am, meeting my friend and starting the countdown of 29 hours in the Scottish capital. My friend being a native could tell me information about Scotland but at the same time, hadn’t done a great deal of exploring Edinburgh and was therefore also experiencing with fresh eyes. We checked into easyHotel Princes Street from the same company as the airline, easyJet, and let ourselves into our box room crying with laughter. I had previously stayed in an easyHotel in London (they have hotels in several major cities) and had a fairly decent room for the steal of the price. At £29 for the night, we couldn’t refuse the deal. The room was the smallest room I have ever seen. A double bed and just enough room to open the bathroom door, we felt like we were sleeping on a boat cabin and the bathroom was like an aeroplane toilet. However, it was clean, cheap, the bed was comfortable and the water was hot. How could we complain? All part of the adventure!
After ditching our bags in the room, we headed back down Princes Street to explore Edinburgh Christmas Market. I love a good, themed market during the festive season and I can honestly say, I have never seen somewhere more Christmassy than Edinburgh. Everywhere you looked trees, lights, music playing and something highlighting the spirit of the season. It was incredibly magical. The market itself was pretty similar to Winter Wonderland if only on a slightly smaller scale. The same kind of stalls, a smaller array of rides, a city-viewing wheel and mulled wine on every corner… which we took full advantage of. Although the market was nothing new to me having experienced near identical versions this month in both London and Liverpool, I still feel full of Christmas joy loving to explore them. One thing I have always wanted to do at a Christmas market is have a ride on the carousel bar with a drink so during our pretty much bar crawl of the market, we hopped on to sip yet another mulled wine. It was a cute little novelty experience where we chatted, got a bit merry and became snap happy.
Finishing our market bar crawl, we took a wander up to Edinburgh Castle just a short walk away. I love that the castle is smack bang in the centre with easy access as it brings a lot of culture to the city with the addition of spectacular views.
After a few photos, we headed back down the street to explore a bit more of the city and came across a huge arch with the sign Virgin Money Christmas Street Party. After a quick Google, we discovered in an hour and a half, the arch would be lit up to provide a dancing light display to Christmas songs. We popped into a cute little bar along the street called Wildest Drams which probably due to its downstairs location and not glaringly obvious bar signs was very quiet inside. The bar is famous for whiskey with an astonishingly epic list to try, however, sticking to our Christmas tradition, we ordered mulled cider. If you’re a whiskey lover however, this would be the perfect place to tickle your tastebuds and the menu looked pretty decent too.
We headed back upstairs to catch the light show which we didn’t admire for too long as it was quite repetitive before heading back over Waverley Bridge to our new tradition, Hard Rock Cafe. After visiting the one in Palma, Mallorca I decided to make it one of my life goals (after visiting all the Disney theme parks) to visit as many Hard Rock Cafe’s as possible… and my friend was along for the ride too. The last three visits I have had my absolute favourite meal the twisted mac, chicken and cheese accompanied with a fruitapalooza cocktail. This time however, I decided to go for something a little different, slurping on a Purple Haze cocktail and munching on a mushroom and swiss burger with peri peri fries. Both delicious, both satisfying, both highly recommended but will still not replace my usual.
After filling up on grub, we wandered down George Street sampling more of the streets cocktails. Starting off at All Bar One with a Mango Bellini and Disaronno Sour and ending up at the randomest bar I have ever visited. A cute little bar on a street corner that we popped into for one drink and ended up staying the rest of the night. The bar itself is only small and is elegantly decorated but the atmosphere in there is crazy. Every single person in there was incredibly drunk and I mean every single person… even the bar staff were downing drinks. Everyone was just having an incredible time. At one point, two men turned up, fully decked out in snow suits, complete with skis and no explanation. It was such a weird night. The cocktail menu was probably the best I have ever read. Such an interesting, unusual design with hilarious house rules and some incredibly unique and mouthwatering drinks choices. My drinks of choice were a Maverick which tasted exactly like Parma Violets (delicious!), another I cannot remember the name of but I am trying to find it and finally a simple gin and Vimto. I would highly recommend this bar for it’s unique cocktails plus it’s lively and random atmosphere, one of my favourite bars.
After a dodgy night sleep on the boat, we spent the next day shopping and wandering the Christmas market again, this time to check out the Bailey’s bar which made an epic hot chocolate. Nothing to write home about on the second day, just a lovely girly day shopping and gossiping with one of my closest friends before going our separate ways.
I have still only just touched the surface of the city and would love to explore it more in the future in addition to seeing more of Scotland but for now, it was just a lovely, chilled little city break with a dear friend.