Thursday, 2 November 2017

A Big Adventure - Edinburgh - new experiences and old favourites

Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Last weekend I went away on a big adventure. My youngest daughter had three nights booked in an Air BnB in Edinburgh, and at the last minute asked if I'd like to go along. I'd said 'Yes' almost before she'd finished asking!

Holyrood Palace with Calton Hill  beyond

Firstly, I love Edinburgh, and this was a chance to explore it away from August Festival madness, plus, due to worries about my parents' health, I've only had a couple of weekends away in the last couple of years, so an unexpected break was very welcome. I hurriedly packed a bag, and, leaving my husband in charge of the house, dog, and possible parent problems, I was on a train heading north almost before I knew it.

The adventure started straight away, as I haven't been on a train since a school trip when I was 15 or 16. Things have changed; seats were more comfy, the train less noisy, and we certainly didn't have gin and tonic to drink on that trip! The journey was about five hours but we played a very slow game of Scrabble, watched stations slip past, and the sun set, and the trip didn't seem as long as in a car (it is, though).

view from Arthur's Seat, with the castle on the right
My daughter had a series of things planned for the weekend - re-visiting some of her favourite eateries around the city (easy), checking out modern art at the various galleries (also easy), climbing Arthur's Seat, that big hill that dominates the city (not so easy ... at least, not for me). I said I'd just walk part way, see how things were going, and maybe just hang around and wait for my daughter to return, but she persuaded me to try for the summit - and I made it! The views are certainly worth the hike, and the weather was sunny and clear so we could see the Forth Bridges and over to Fife.

The Royal Mile

After that our time was spent less energetically - we checked out Holyrood Palace and the new parliament building, walked up the Royal Mile to the Castle, with some retail therapy on the way, visited the main National Gallery in the city centre, caught the bus to the Modern Art galleries further out and walked back via Dean Village. We found small parks and wooded places just off the main roads, walked up Calton Hill (it seems small after Arthur's Seat but my legs were beginning to object), and out to the National Museum to play with the interactive exhibits.
Old Town skyline

Holyrood Palace
Edinburgh Castle
Obligatory piper

Dean Village

Gallery of Modern Art

Playing with hot air balloons
at the National Museum

We ate Italian food and burgers at places my daughter discovered when she worked at the Fringe, smoked salmon in the Gallery cafe, haggis with baked potato in a small cafe on the Mile, rested our feet while having afternoon tea, and I discovered how to order drinks and dinner via an app in Wetherspoons.

The Dome - it's even more gorgeous inside!
In the evenings we checked out cocktail bars that had been recommended - some, like Bryant and Mack Private Detectives, were so secretive and hidden that a special knock at the door would have seemed appropriate - and met with my daughter's friends at a really special bar, The Dome, which looked particularly fine in its Christmas decorations.

Nettle and Elderflower

Bryant and Mack Private Detectives cocktail bar

New Town at night

It was a weekend full of a lot of 'firsts' for me - first time away with just my daughter, in fact first time since being married that I'd holidayed without my husband, first time trying AirBnB, or hanging out in cocktail bars till 3am! For most of the trip, my daughter was in charge of organising - ie trains and accommodation - and choosing where to go, and it definitely put a whole new spin on Edinburgh. Luckily we share many of the same interests such as art and exploring new places, but without her I'd have stuck to tried and tested chain restaurants I know from home, and never have stumbled on such interesting 'gin joints'. It's the longest time that the two of us have spent alone together for years, certainly since my daughter would count as 'grown up', and I found it really fun. I hope she did too (that way she'll maybe take me along again).


  1. I'm hearing so much about Edinburgh of late that it's making me want to go Mary. I haven't been since I was a kid. What a lovely post, I particularly love 'I said yes before she finished asking'! Go you! Sounds to me like you will be asked again. Well done for reaching the summit and all the firsts that you experienced. Sounds to me like you were the perfect companion and vice versa. Thanks for sharing with #tweensteensbeyond

    1. I'm definitely hoping to be allowed along on more jaunts! And you should certainly go to Edinburgh if you get the chance, Nicky, and, if you do, I'll let you know where to find the best cocktails bars. Everything else, from castle to hills, shops to galleries, is easy to find :)

  2. What a fantastic experience. I love the fact that your daughter organised most of the weekend, I would welcome someone taking over organising our holidays. I have only been there once and I had two very young kids so my experience was very different to yours! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sharon. Yes, it was great having most of the accommodation/travel sorted for me, and interesting to see my daughter's 'take' on a city we both know well. It was definitely different to our visits when she was younger :)