A (Very Brief) Guide to Edinburgh – Part 1

I’m leaving Edinburgh today. *tears*

Actually, technically at the time of writing this I’ve left Edinburgh.  I’m actually sitting in a little restaurant/café called Ca’puccino in ‘The Queen’s Terminal’ (aka Terminal 2) at Heathrow.  I have two and a half hours until my flight.

And I’m really fucking mad.

We’re talking next level, scary mad.  The type of mad that would make me want to punch something if I was that sort of person, which I’m not, so I just want to write an angry letter about it.

But I also probably won’t do that either. Nor will I complain about what made me so damn angry here and now.  That might come another time.

So, instead of sulking around being miserable that I have to leave Edinburgh and that a certain airline as stupid baggage policies, I thought I’d give you all a few of my tips/advice for visiting Edinburgh, seeing as I’ve been here both as a tourist and as a semi-local (I’d consider myself a local but you know).

I could literally write an essay on this, so I’ll probably split this post into two so you don’t get too overwhelmed!


 

Be prepared to walk…a lot…up hill.

Despite what A initially thought, Edinburgh is not at all flat.  In fact it’s very, VERY hilly.  You get used to it pretty quickly (and nothing increases your fitness like walking around Old Town), but I still wouldn’t recommend lugging heavy luggage/walking in high heels/pushing a pram up and down the hills.  Edinburgh is also wet the majority of the time, and the uneven cobble stones (and even more modern pavements) quickly get slippy as fuck.  So watch out for that too.  Also it can get super windy (I’ve been blown off course whilst walking a few times), so be prepared for that as well.

None of these make Edinburgh a bad place to visit (quite the opposite in my opinion), but they are things you need to be ready for.  Don’t even bother thinking you can spend a day walking around the city in stilettos – you’ll be hobbling into the first Primark/H&M/Office you come across to buy a pair of flats once you’ve rolled your ankle/your heel’s gotten stuck in the cobble stones and broken/your feet start to bleed. Basically just bring sensible walking shoes and be prepared for some aching muscles.

Go on some sort of tour when you first arrive.
There are plenty of bus tours that will take you around Old Town/New Town (and some even further) and an absurd number of walking/cycling tours you can take that won’t cost you more than 15 pounds (it’s cheaper for students/the elderly/children).  For those of us who come from cities like Adelaide or Melbourne where everything is laid out in a pretty grid, the slightly random layout of Old Town is bound to confuse you at first.  Going on a tour is a great way to get your bearings, work out where everything is, and learn a bit about the city whilst you’re doing it.  Edinburgh obviously as A LOT of history, and it’s nice to know a bit about it as your begin your adventure in the city.

Don’t avoid the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile has a bit of a bad reputation amongst Edinburgh locals, which I think is a bit unfair.  Yes, it can be busy with tourists (particularly in July/August or over holiday weekends), and aside from Starbucks and my favourite chippie you’d never catch me buying food along it (it’s WAY too overpriced most of the time), but despite that it’s absolutely stunning.  The Royal Mile is the original Edinburgh, and it’s wide street juxtaposed with the almost claustrophobic closes branching off it are so integral to the character of the city.  Also there are usually great little pop up stalls with artists/leather makers (and jewellery but I’d avoid them coz it’s not worth it) selling beautiful hand-made items that will be much more special and help out a lot more than a souvenir from one of the tartan-tat shops that blear out bagpipe music constantly.

Don’t expect a sunny holiday
Scotland is very rarely sunny, and it’s even more rare for it to be warm.  I think the hottest temperature I’ve experienced in Scotland was 20 degrees Celcius, and that was in the middle of summer.  It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit, you’re going to want to bring a rain coat unless you want to get wet.  You can try carry around an umbrella, but if it’s winter/autumn/spring/most of summer it will be too windy to even bother.  Sandals probably aren’t necessary either.  Put it this way (although keep in mind this was a ‘bad’ summer) – last July A and I wore hoodies most days whilst we were in Scotland.

Do the ‘touristy’ things
In some cities my favourite thing to do is just wander around and experience life as a pretend local, and whilst that’s fun to do in Edinburgh too you need to visit the tourist attractions.  Unless you’re studying at Edinburgh uni for your whole degree (in which case it’s bad luck) visit the Castle. It’s worth it, even just for the war memorial and war museum inside the castle (although it’s all bloody brilliant). I’ve never been to the Palace at Holyroodhouse because the modern day monarchy isn’t really my thing, but it’s supposed to be great and much cheaper/less busy than the London palaces.  All the tours I’ve been on in Edinburgh are fantastic – my highlights would be the Real Mary King’s Close and Mercat Tour’s Historic Underground (I do like being underground though). Go out to Leith and see the Royal Britannia Yacht. Climb Arthur’s Seat.  Visit Calton Hill. Do every tour and touristy thing (that interests you) that you can.  It’s worth it!


Stay tuned for part two on Thursday, and let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to cover!

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