Exploring Edinburgh

Second day in Edinburgh – our only full day here. I wish we had more time to enjoy the city but I think we made a good dent in some of the highlights. The day before, we hiked to Arthur’s Seat, walked the Royal Mile and dined at a local pub.

Our second day in the city started with breakfast at a little cafe – the Southern Cross – fitting considering where we’re from. I enjoyed a giant bowl of granola with a slathering of yogurt, fresh fruit, and honey. (I’m always shocked when I see portion sizes abroad because all I ever hear about is how large American portions are but from my experience, the portions are just as big in Europe!) Bob had hash browns and a fried egg – both he and I are still iffy on how runny the eggs are here. Funny note: Bob liked the song playing in the Cafe so much that he asked the waitress what was playing – however she disagreed on the song’s quality and skipped over it!

After breakfast, we made our way back onto the windy streets, heading towards Waverly Bridge. After talking to a local shop owner, we had decided to try the Hop-On, Hop-Off tour buses. Now, I was hesitant before because I hate doing very touristy things, but choosing to ride the bus was definitely a good idea for many reasons.

1. The bus shielded us from the wind and got us from destination to destination comfortably.

2. We got the chance to learn even more interesting facts about Edinburgh that we wouldn’t have known if we had just walked past the same spots.

3. The bus took us out to Leith and the shoreline, so we were able to see even more of this area than we had planned. We considered stopping at the Britannia to see the Queen’s ship, but weren’t sure if we wanted to spend money on seeing it. We did get a good glimpse riding by though!

The only bad thing about the buses was that they stopped running so early! We didn’t have the chance to really “hop on and off” because our stop at the castle took so long.

We passed by some really interesting places that I wish we had had time to visit. The Children’s Museum, Dynamic Earth, Greyfriar’s Kirk. Too bad everything closes so early during the week! I’m glad we were able to spend more time at Edinburgh Castle, though.

It was very windy, so many areas were closed off so that no one blew off the side, but we were able to see the Scottish Crown Jewels – used for the coronation of many Scottish Kings – the war memorial, Mary Queen of Scot’s bedchambers, old canons and the One O’clock Gun, a dog cemetery and of course the lovely views of Edinburgh! We even had lunch and tea at the tea room in the castle! (That was my one request of Bob – that he let me do tea somewhere at least once during our trip!) I felt a little out of place though because while we ordered lunch (it was 12:30pm), it seemed that everyone else just ordered tea. I couldn’t recall hearing about any weird dining times in Scotland, so it definitely confused me as to why we were the only ones eating! I felt so American in that moment. However, I did enjoy my tomato soup, ginger and lemon tea, and lemon scone – even as an American! They also had a bottled sparkling lemonade that I enjoyed, but Bob didn’t – it had a strong taste of ginger.

After the castle, we popped in a few gift stores and then made our way to the Scotch Whiskey Experience. This place gives you a tour of how whiskey is produced, explains the different flavors of whiskey from various regions, and let’s you taste one from the region of your choice. There’s also a fun little barrel ride in the beginning, giving you a more dimensional learning experience.

We were given a scratch and sniff for the different regional whiskey flavors and allowed to choose the one we would like to taste. I chose to try one from the Speyside region, which tend to be more sweet. Bob chose one from the Highlands, which I thought had a very strong taste to it. We ended the tour in the world’s biggest whiskey collection! It was neat to see the rare bottles of whiskey on display, knowing that only select people like the Queen, Prime Minister, and Bill Clinton were gifted them.

I thought it was very interesting to learn about the different regional specialties – it helped you understand Scotland a little better. This tour is amazing if you need help deciphering between the thousands of whiskey types – and I really do think it gives you a good first look into the areas outside of Edinburgh before you head out into the wilderness. I only wish I could’ve tried a taste from each region!

The picture above is of the “fermentation process” segment of the barrel tour. 

After the whiskey tour we made our way down the street towards our hotel to drop things off. In the old Tron Kirk beside our hotel, there was a local market where we decided to stop for a look. Bob purchased a picture from a local artist which I really hope we don’t crush on our way back home! It was cool to see local items on display and compare them to our own markets back at home. There seemed to be a great deal of similarities between our tastes and theirs.

We decided to walk down to George’s Street to buy my souvenir pin from Hard Rock Cafe and we were so hungry by that point that we decided to stay there and grab a bite. We felt bad at first for eating at a HRC instead of somewhere local but we will be out in the middle of nowhere for the next few days so we concluded that it was necessary for us to get one last “safe” meal just in case! Our waiters were very friendly locals though and we enjoyed talking to them about the States and what we had done around Edinburgh.

Our night concluded with a walk down George’s Street, spilt coffee, views of the Edinburgh Castle at night, a trip into McDonald’s to see the different menu, and a nightcap of Glenfiddich whiskey at the hotel bar (for free!). 

The coast in Leith. 

The next leg of our journey starts at 4:30am on March 15th as we head towards Inverness via train where we will pick up our rental car.



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