Sunday, August 6, 2017

Edinburgh, Scotland

When my partner and I visited Edinburgh, we did not stay in a hotel.  We stayed with my cousin near the University.  This clearly provided us with the ability save money on hotel rooms.  We were also able to cook our breakfast before leaving for the day. If you plan to visit Edinburgh, I recommend that you use a hotel that offers a breakfast, or a mini-kitchen so that you can save some money there. Search Here for Best Hotel Deals! (Affiliate link, see disclosure page).  You can use's search fields to sort only hotels with breakfast included, which is also something I usually do. Additionally, Edinburgh is a very walkable city.  We took a couple of buses and a couple of cabs, but we were able to walk most places we wanted to go.

After breakfast, we took a stroll through The Meadows, a large beautiful park next to the University of Edinburgh, then through the University itself. This is known as the Lauriston part of town.  Here you will find the National Museum of Scotland.  Any real history buff could literally spend all day in this particular museum.  We, unfortunately, combined the National Museum of Scotland with the Royal Yacht, Britannia because their is a bus that easily transports you between these two places.  That being said, on a future visit, I would give each of these attractions their own day (see also: The Royal Yacht Britannia).  The regal building contains an array of exhibits organized into broad categories.  I adore the Scotland section of the museum, as it takes you on a journey through the story of Scotland over the course of history.  You will explore this mesmerizing story through a variety of art and artifacts either made or used in Scotland.  Next, I might break for lunch, and return to experience the World Culture section of the museum, where you will learn about how the human experience has been analyzed, archived and enhanced through the development of art, music, and performance.

As I mentioned before, in order to get the most out of the National Museum of Scotland, you might need to break briefly for lunch.  I suggest leaving the building and heading to nearby Elephant House.  Elephant House is cosy and quaint.  The atmosphere is relatively casual, yet contains a feeling of sophistication.  When I was there, I ordered tea and a vegetarian/traditional breakfast which was entirely satisfying.   It contained sauteed mushrooms and roasted tomatoes as a supplement to the egg dish.  This cafe is not only comfortable, but also the rumored location in which J.K. Rowling was said to have written a great deal of her earlier work.

Once you've satisfied both your hunger and need for museum time, make sure you stop by the famous Greyfriars Bobby statue nearby. Greyfriars Bobby is a monument of a terrier.  This dog is is the basis of a famous Scottish tale.  According to local legend,  this dog spent 14 years guarding it's owners grave, until he finally passed away himself.

Take a stroll by the cemetery that was rumored to have inspired many of the character names found in J.K. Rowling's books. Continue to travel on foot to Edinburgh's Grassmarket, where you can enjoy a marvelous view of the castle as you enjoy a sweet treat from Mary's Milk Bar.  Mary's Milk Bar is a gorgeously, cosy little ice cream parlor with flavor's changing daily.  Mary makes everything from ice creams, gelatos, and chocolates fresh daily using all natural ingredients and no preservatives.   Mary actually studied gelato-making at Carpigiani Gelato University in Italy.  Not a lot of people could say that.  This is the real deal, and you don't want to miss it.

If you need a time-out for dinner, there are plenty of choices in the Grassmarket area.  I recommend remaining their until the Literary Pub Tour starts.  Edinburgh's Literary Pub Tour is hands down the best way to spend an evening in Edinburgh.  Tickets are reasonably priced, and you get a slight discount if you purchase tickets ahead of time on their website.  You will also want to verify dates and times; during the summer months they tend to run every evening, though less frequently during winter months.  Tours start promptly at 7:30, so you want to be sure to be on time. This tour is lead by two actors.  They play off each other beautifully, in a display that is a perfect combination of theater and academic lecture in a casual atmosphere.  During this walking tour, you'll be experiencing a handful of pubs that were the frequent locations and inspiration of some of Scotland's most brilliant literary geniuses.  At each pub, you will learn about one or more writers that spend time in each location, and be given a chance to purchase a beverage, though you won't be at each location for long.  I highly recommend if you want to have one at each location, you share a pint with a travel buddy.  That's what I did in order to save time, money, and keep it classy.  If there's one attraction or activity I'd recommend in Edinburgh, the Literary Pub Tour is it.

Nothing on this particular day's itinerary is very expensive.  Everything is pretty moderately priced, so their are no real splurges, but my financial breakdown looks a little something like this:

Budget SAVERS:
  • Breakfast (Hotel = free/prepaid)
  • National Museum of Scotland (most exhibits are free, with some exceptions, donations accepted)
  • Elephant House for Lunch (relatively inexpensive)
  • Greyfriars Bobby (free)
  • Mary's Milk Bar (inexpensive)
  • Literary Pub Tour (inexpensive tour, save even more by booking online)

  • None (unless you opt of a spendy dinner)
Any favorites in Edinburgh?  Whether it be secret spots or tourist traps, if it's in Edinburgh, and you love it, we'd love to hear about it.

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