A Weekend Trip to Edinburgh
James and I wanted to visit each country in the U.K., so it was only natural that a trip to Scotland was necessary. Some cheap flights later and a weekend trip to Edinburgh was arranged.
Transportation to Bristol International Airport
On a warm day in early December, we hopped on a train to Bristol Temple Meades station. In that hour the weather changed drastically from Exeter to Bristol. The short wait for the Airport Flyer was a very cold one and we had to bundle up in our winter gear while waiting. We were dreading the cold in Edinburgh.
P.S. The airport flyer costs £7, but if you buy your train ticket on Trainline to Bristol Airport (XPB train code) instead of Bristol Temple Meades the bus is included in the fee!
Whenever we start a trip, I always say to James ”things are going well” before our trip starts and it drives him crazy. He thinks I’ll jinx everything, well low and behold the one time I didn’t say it our flight was cancelled. I’m convinced that it’s a good luck charm so I say it on all trips now! Anyway, the flight was canceled due to the immense fog in Bristol, however Easy Jet offered to put us on the next flight which was only an hour later.
Edinburgh Airport to City Center
Now fast forward an hour, and we were in Scotland! Since we’re always looking to be cheap, we avoided the Airlink bus which was about €6 for a single ride into the city center and took the public transport. The Lothian bus #35, calls at stop F at the airport and it was only €1.60 for a single ride.
Eating in Edinburgh
By the time we made it to the city center it was about 6 pm, and we decided our first stop would be to a Tesco to get some food for the following day for our Highlands Tour with the Highland Experience Company. We managed to score a bag of oats, a loaf of bread, peanut butter, 6 bags of crisps, and two ready meals for about €5. Clearly we learned how to shop cheaply as a Uni Student.
During our day exploring Edinburgh we came across an Indian Restaurant while walking to King Arthur’s Seat (keep reading). The Indian Restaurant offered a lunch buffet from 12-2:30pm for €6.99. Obviously James and I were all about it, but in hindsight eating a ton of Indian Food before hiking was probably a mistake.
After our grocery shopping we went to our hostel to check in, eat and rest up for the tour. We stayed at “The Hostel” which we found on Booking. The hostel itself wasn’t terrible, but it was undergoing some renovations. They offered free wifi, lockers, a kitchen, a nice lounge area. The only negative experience we had in our hostel was really the guests. Many people checked in past midnight and didn’t care that others were sleeping. They would turn on the lights and chat with their friends. James and I learned we are not hostel people – we’ll get us a nice B&B instead.
Our second day in Scotland was spent exploring Edinburgh since the first day was spent in the Highlands. Fun fact Edinburgh is not pronounced the way it looks, its more along the lines of “eh-den-bruh”, I still don’t know why.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral
When in Europe you’re bound to see a ton of cool Churches. This Cathedral was quite near our hostel and free so we went in for a quick look.
Just beyond the Cathedral is Dean Village, made for an instagrammer’s dreams. Look how adorable this village is!
Princes St is part of the newer city area in Edinburgh. Across Princes St. sits Edinburgh Castle atop volcanic rock.The land between the castle and the street naturally forms a valley and was used for as a park. We spent our early morning strolling through the park and taking in the views of the Castle. It is rumored that the Edinburgh Castle is the inspiration for Hogwarts in Rowling’s books.
Europe in December calls for a Christmas Market and Edinburgh was no exception. All the stalls were adorned with lights and bustling with people. I think Edinburgh’s Christmas market is probably my favorite thus far.
National Gallery of Scotland
The National Gallery of Scotland is free and we decided to spend some time exploring it. I would be lying if I said James and I were connoisseurs in art. When we go to a museum we spend maybe 30 minutes looking at paintings and sculptures. We definitely don’t sit and discuss art unless it makes us giggle. James came across a painting from a time period before the Renaissance that looked like a lady was performing oral sex, so we giggled.
Our next stop was to hike up the hill to Edinburgh Castle. It was swarmed with tourists on the outside so I could only imagine how many were inside. It cost €12 to enter and we weren’t dying to see the inside so we looked on from the outside.
Fun Fact: When you're at the castle and look behind you you can actually see King Arthur's Seat off in the distance!
The Grass Market is just below Edinburgh Castle, filled with a variety of shops, restaurants and live music. We saw a gentleman photographing his 3 fluffy white dogs – clearly we were excited to see dog models!
Yet another Harry Potter Inspiration that I needed to see was Victoria Street. Supposedly it inspired Rowling’s Diagon Alley. I personally think Gandy Street in Exeter is more believable but I guess we’ll never know unless Rowling confirms it herself.
Next stop was Greyfriars Kirkyard to continue our hunt for Harry Potter inspirations. There are gravestones that are rumored to be the name inspirations for Dumbledore and Voldermort. One of the gravestones literally reads “Tom Riddle”. Unfortunately, there were so many gravestones, we couldn’t find them.
I felt very uncomfortable asking a caretaker for the gravestone locations and it seemed a bit disrespectful to the dead. Instead we left to find the Greyfriars Bobby Statue. It’s said if you rub his nose it’ll give you good luck – but please don’t! His nose is all varnished out from all the rubbing.
Surprise, James and Michelle visited another Harry Potter Site. Rumored to the pub in which Rowling wrote many of the novels, Elephant Castle made our list of things to see.
J.K. Rowling’s Hand Prints
Best for last – you can actually find J.K. Rowling’s hands on the streets of Edinburgh. In the City Chambers Quadrangle, there are certain notable hands. J.K. Rowling was awarded the Edinburgh Award so her hands are forever imprinted in gold on the street!
King Arthur’s Seat
It took us about 30 minutes to get from Edinburgh to the base of the mountain. There are two ways to get to the top – the left path consists of rock step pathway which was very steep and winding, whereas the right path consists of walking along the road in a very gradual but long and out of the way manner. We opted for the steep and winding path up, and the long and gradual path down.
It actually wasn’t terrible because we were going nice and slowly and it was quite windy so we didn’t break a sweat. As we got higher the wind got stronger and the rock steps became muddier and more dangerous.The top of the steps is the halfway point for the climb because it then turns into a walking a path along the side of the mountain. This part was probably the scariest, not because of the height but because of the narrowness of the path and strength of the wind. On two occasions the wind was so strong it knocked me over. Fortunately, it was blowing into the mountain rather than off.
Towards the end of the climb, you need to go up a hill and down a valley and up a final hill. When we were walking up the first hill the strength of the wind was super helpful and propelled me up the hill. However, immediately after that it started blowing me very quickly down into the valley so strongly that I dropped to the ground to maintain my balance. The very last hill was very rocky and was more rock climbing than hiking.
The view at the top though was well worth the trouble, 250.5 m high in the sky and you can see all of Edinburgh. It was breathtaking while simultaneously terrifying due to the strength of the wind. There was a “seat” like a monument that showed the height of Arthur’s Seat and I literally was clinging onto it while at the top so the wind didn’t blow me over. We didn’t spend too long at the top because it was starting to get dark, so after about 15 minutes we made our way down Arthur’s Seat, on the long and easy path. This path was far less eventful than the first, and it allowed us to glimpse the ocean.
The Royal Mile
You can’t go to Edinburgh without strolling through the shops on the Royal Mile. We spent about 15 minutes window shopping. Most of the shops are quite the same – selling plaid patterned cashmere scarves. James and I made sure to get our own scarves as souvenirs!
Our weekend trip to Edinburgh was a great adventure and I can’t wait to return for another trip! Have you ever been?
Total Cost: £210.08
- Transportation: £141.96
- Train tickets Exeter to Bristol: £25.80 per person = £51.60 total
- Flights Bristol to Edinburgh: £41.98 per person = £83.96 total
- Bus Ticket Edinburgh to City: £1.60 per person = £6.40 total
- Accommodations: £48
- Hostel: £16 per night total = £48
- Food: £20.12
- Grocery – £5
- Lunch buffet – £7 per person = £14 total
- Fudge – £1.12
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