This weekend I finally got to explore the beautiful city of Edinburgh having never visited there before. It was in fact my first ever visit to bonny Scotland! But it’s safe to say I’ve completely fallen in love with this city.
Having travelled up by plane on Friday with two of my university girlfriends, we arrived in Edinburgh just after 2pm. As there were four of us in total (another friend joined us on Saturday), we decided to rent a flat using Airbnb – another first for me! Our four person flat was in the Grassmarket area and offered incredible views up to the castle from the kitchen and bedroom windows, which was pretty special. We were initially greeted by our wonderful host who supplied us with enough tea and breakfast items to sink a ship, gave us a run-down of what to do in the city, and handed us the key to the cosy abode.
Most of our time in Edinburgh was spent wandering down the Royal Mile and up to the Castle, which was incredibly impressive; exploring the lanes and alleyways (closes); and brunching/indulging in hot chocolates. What’s a girl to do when it’s so chilly outside!? We also paid a visit to Greyfriars Bobby, The Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling wrote parts of the Harry Potter series, and took a walking ghost tour through Edinburgh’s Vaults, which was highly entertaining/actually quite scary.
On Saturday we decided to check out The Pantry in Edinburgh’s New Town (central area of the city), a restaurant renowned for its hearty, healthy brunches. All three of us ordered the Sunshine on Stockbridge 3.0 – olive oil toast (GF in my case) with guacamole, slow roasted thyme and paprika tomato, spiced sweet potato, golden beetroot thins, poblano pepper, poached free range eggs, fresh chilli and a cheeky extra helping of chorizo. It was as delicious as it sounds. The pepper and chilli gave it an extra kick, which I particularly liked.
As well as a freshly squeezed OJ, we also ordered a hot chocolate each which were incredible. The Pantry was permanently full with a queue developing on a number of occasions for the in-demand tables. It was bright, warm (SO important in Edinburgh) and the waiting staff were very friendly. Definitely check this place out.
Another foodie spot that I’d recommend visiting whilst in Edinburgh is Hula Juice Bar. This is a go-to spot for anyone looking for a filling yet healthy plate of food, and they cater extremely well for those with allergies/intolerances. We had initially visited on Sunday morning for a juice (spinach, lemon, nutmeg apple) and a slice of cake (blueberry and coconut), but it was so good that I ended up returning at lunchtime once my girlfriends had caught an earlier flight home (I had arranged to meet up with some childhood friends later that afternoon). For lunch I ordered the rainbow bowl which was a hot bowl of tofu, kale, avocado and a raw red cabbage/carrot salad, oh, and a hot chocolate.
It’s probably no bad thing that I live so far away from Edinburgh, otherwise I’d definitely spend all of my time and money at Hula!
One of my final café stops, before I headed home to London, was Lovecrumbs. This cake shop is well worth a visit whether you’re into your baked goods or not. By this point I was pretty full from all of my other eats so, instead of a slice of cake, I instead went for a Coco Chocolatier rose and cardamom hot chocolate (noticing a theme here?). I was at first hesitant of this combination but it was absolutely delicious – the rose flavour was subtle and the chocolate itself was so rich and creamy. Perfection. I won’t lie though, whilst I was enjoying my hot choc, I was still pretty tempted by the cabinet of cakes which Lovecrumbs is best known for…
Before I knew it, Sunday late afternoon had crept up on me and it was time to start my journey back down south to London. Although I chose to fly to Edinburgh on the way up, I decided to opt for a train journey back with Virgin East Coast Trains. It’s safe to say I won’t be flying up to Edinburgh again. Travelling by train was so relaxing and much faster than I had anticipated (approx. 4 hours 40). I had admittedly booked a first class ticket, but this in my opinion was well worth it and not much more expensive than travelling in standard. Having never travelled with Virgin Trains before, I was extremely pleased to discover that complimentary drinks and snacks were offered on board, as well as free wifi throughout the entire journey (ah, the little things in life). As far as train journeys go, this was a pretty great journey. No early arrival at the airport, no checking in and plenty of time to catch up with a book or TV series. A far cry from the commuter trains that I’m used to catching.
All in all, I had a really wonderful time in Edinburgh. The city itself is absolutely stunning and a dream travel destination for anyone with an interest in British history, architecture or a love for great food. I’m sure I’ll be seeing Edinburgh again soon.
Of course, being in the city for only two and a half days meant that I missed out on a couple of places which I’ll have to visit next time round: Mary’s Milk Bar, The King’s Wark, Urban Angel and Roseleaf. Oh, and The Kitchin (I know, dream on…). I’d love to hear your suggestions too!
I also sadly didn’t manage to try any haggis which was very much on my list of things to do whilst in Scotland, so if anyone knows of any great restaurants in London that serve traditional Scottish dishes, do let me know!