Last week I spent a week in Scotland with my family. The first half of the week we spent at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and then we had a few days to enjoy Edinburgh. I’d heard great things about the city, so I was excited to look around and check it out for myself.
I think it’s fair to say I didn’t exactly see Edinburgh at its best, thanks to the weather, but we had a good time and I’m keen to go back some time, hopefully in the sunshine, to explore properly. In the meantime, here are a few highlights:
Ahem. I’m basing this on a photo that appeared on Twitter a couple of days after we got home, because unfortunately as a result of the rain, we couldn’t really see most of Edinburgh. As you can (not) see from this picture. It was a shame really because everyone had forgotten, when telling me how lovely the city is, to mention that it’s essentially one big hill. And after climbing a big hill, you kind of expect to be rewarded with a nice view. But hey – it was still pretty good, considering 🙂
I mentioned Dubh Prais the other day but I’m still dreaming about the cheesecake, so it’s going in again. My parents discovered it by accident a few years ago and had told us how nice it was, so we had high expectations, which were not disappointed. It’s a tiny cellar restaurant on the Royal Mile which only seats 24, and feels like someone’s living room (not my living room; I’d never fit 24 people in. But you get the idea). The food is amazing – not just the cheesecake, it was all lovely – and the service is great. It’s not cheap but totally worth paying a little more for.
We knew we were staying close to Edinburgh Zoo but didn’t realise it was literally opposite our B&B, so it took us about a minute to get there, and most of that was waiting for the traffic lights to change so we could cross the road. Once inside, we headed almost immediately to see the only two giant pandas in Britain – for now anyway; the lady panda may be pregnant. Cue much excited running around trying to get a decent photo (from the people, not the pandas).
The other highlight was the much hyped Penguin Parade, which I’d been hearing about from my sisters ever since their last visit. For anyone who’s not heard of this, each afternoon the gate of the penguin enclosure is opened and if they feel like it, the penguins go for a stroll (waddle?) round the block, while visitors line the path to make sure they don’t wander off. We only got two rockhoppers but they were so cute we didn’t really mind.
Oh, but be warned – like the rest of Edinburgh, the zoo is set on a big hill. So be prepared to climb. And if anyone wants to see more photos of cute animals, I have lots. I mean lots.
Again, I don’t think we saw the best of the castle, which was a shame as it wasn’t cheap to get in. The views were obscured by the low cloud, and the persistent rain meant we had to spend most of the time running from one building to another huddled under hoods and umbrellas. But learning about and seeing the Scottish crown jewels was cool (I wouldn’t want to be the person responsible for locking that door every night) and the Scottish National War Memorial was a really moving tribute to all the Scotsmen and women (and animals) who’ve lost their lives to war since 1914.
Not particularly cultural perhaps, but the Camera Obscura was another attraction I’d been told I had to go to. And it was really fun. As you probably know by now, I quite enjoy acting like a big kid from time to time, and there’s no better place – apart from maybe the Science Museum in London – to do that. The Camera Obscura is several floors of illusions and general silliness. Whether it’s a room that makes you look like a giant, a computer that turns you into a monkey (not literally), or a mirror maze that has you bumping into walls like you’ve had a few too many drinks, it’s hours of entertainment.
And I got a new wall print in the gift shop, which is a picture made up of the text from Pride & Prejudice. I’ve no idea where I’m going to put it but I’m very excited about it.
Now I’ll be honest, we didn’t do the National Museum properly – firstly because it’s huge and secondly because we really only ran in there to escape from the pouring rain for an hour at the end of the day. But we know a lot more about cloning now than we did before, and I would like to go back and have a proper look around some time; it’s free, after all, and there’s so much there to see, we barely scratched the surface.
Had to be done. This was taken from the bridge looking over Princes Street on one of the less rainy evenings.
So, that was Edinburgh. We only had a few days and we didn’t even get close to seeing everything there is to see, but if you are interested in finding out more about what the city has to offer, I recommend this blog post, written by a friend of mine who’s a student at Edinburgh Uni. And not that I’m biased, but while you’re there, you should check out the rest of the blog. It’s pretty good.
And by the way, in case anyone was wondering what I’d look like a monkey…