My Ryan Air flight landed around 4.45pm and wanting to save a few pounds I took public transport. According to the bus route there was a stop fairly close to the hostel I had booked. It was a long trip but I did get to see the Royal Mile by night. Almost 2 hours later I pressed the stop button and made the short stroll to the hostel. Check in was fairly quick but my private room was on the top floor with no elevator.
I was starving by the time I settled and before long I was hurrying off to the bistro down the road due to close in 20 minutes. The young emo waiter welcomed me with a warm smile and insisted I dine in rather than take my meal away. He was surprised that I was dining alone and kept me company during my meal. Normally I would’ve politely declined but this young lads aura was warm. He told me about his Australian adventures and I was so glad to be able to talk to him about familiar places and food; he promised to make chicken parma a thing in Scotland. I kept the bistro open 40 minutes past it’s closing time but the waiter and owner didn’t seem to mind, inviting me to share a shot of whisky. I got to know this 18 year old kid so well in under an hour, more than some people I’ve known my entire life. This is why I travel! By the time I had left my new friend, William, had convinced me to come back the next morning for a divine breakfast.
By 9am I had myself back down at Bijou Bistro with a latte, scrambled eggs and salmon ready to be devoured. It was so delicious. Before embarking on my day adventure William wished me an amazing trip and promised I’d always have a friend in Edinburgh.
From outside the bistro I took a bus into the city center and alighted at Waverley Station, the main train station in Edinburgh. From here I walked past the National Gallery up the hill, past many kilt stores to Edinburgh Castle. The castle has a high vantage point and the views were quite amazing over the old town.
I traced my steps back half way down the hill and bought a hop on hop off bus ticket, always a great way to check out a city when there’s limited time. The tour guide had a thick Scottish accent. I would spend the next 90 minutes piecing the information together with every third word. The tour took us through the old town past the Scottish Parliament, Holyroodhouse Palace – where Queen Mary bathed in sweet white wine; up the Royal Mile past Greyfriar’s loyal dog Bobby who guarded his owner’s grave for 14 years; and finally past the Sir Walter Scott Monument – the largest in the world for a writer; as well as Burke and Hare’s house where many corpses were sold to Dr Knox for medical science.
I did not get off the bus on the first round. On the second round I decided to explore the Royal Mile. My feet led me into the Museum of Childhood which is home to some amazing vintage toys. There was a Punch and Judy puppet show as well as Sweeney Todd. There were also thousands of dolls, some scarier looking than others. From here I wandered into a Christmas shop with intricate hand made tree decorations. The store smelt of fresh pine and had a warm winter buzz to it. I especially enjoyed the Nutcracker wood carvings. I checked out the different kilt stores too however without knowing what clan my mum’s family comes from I didn’t buy one, this time.
I got back onto the bus and stayed on until the National Gallery. This time I ventured into Princes Street Gardens for a different view of Edinburgh Castle. I followed the footpath back to the Scott Monument. Up close I could see the enormous carving was decorated with characters from the authors books. It was really cool to see the amount of detail in this sculpture.
I got back onto the bus for one more round trip just to get off my feet and out of the cold. The tour guide this time was a lot easier to understand and also very animated. I love seeing different personalities bring a place to life. After a very familiar 90 minute trip I hopped off again and headed into a café for a well deserved latte and lemon cake. I could feel my sugar levels restored and my blood turn warm again. I people watched for a very long time; tourists walking slowly marveling at the sites then suddenly stopping to take pictures; the local folk quickly sidestepping to avoid collisions but without annoyance.
The sun had set and I decided to take a stroll down to Waverley Station for the bus back to the hostel. My walk took me back past the National Gallery and I’m so glad it did as I stumbled on some fire dancers. The show was amazing, I think I stood there watching them for at least 30 minutes mesmerized like a moth to a flame. See what I did there?
I eventually tore my gaze away from the show and walked down Leith Street to get myself dinner. I walked past the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle pub and was tempted to go in but it was busy with Sherlock enthusiasts so I carried on down the road for some grilled chicken and red wine. With my belly full and head buzzing I got onto a bus and stumbled into bed very soon after.
I checked out of my hostel early the next morning and caught a bus down to Ocean Terminal Leith Port; a shopping mall overlooking the water.
I quickly checked out the Royal Yacht Brittania before aimlessly wondering through the stores in the mall. I followed the signs to the port for a closer look at the vessels. I have developed an immense appreciation for ships since spending a few years booking travel for seafarers in this industry.
And after a few shots of the port I was on the bus back to the airport for my flight home. I had an amazing short time in this beautiful Scottish city and I know I’ll be back here in a heartbeat. To buy something tartan and have a whisky shot with an old friend.