Travel: Edinburgh, Scotland {Part One}

As I write this post in the midst of self-isolation due to COVID-19, when this is done, I can’t wait to travel again!

I talk about it a lot on my blog, but my parents are/were Scottish.  The first time we went to Scotland, I was 5-years-old.  We went again in 1982, my mom and I went in 1994, but I hadn’t been back since.  Life happens.

My daughter was obsessed with London at an early age, she and I had been planning a trip in our minds for several years.  When it finally became a reality, I knew we couldn’t go to the U.K. without a stop in Scotland. Travel Scotland Edinburgh

If you read Travel: London Part One and Part Two, know that London bookended our trip to Scotland.  We had 6 days in London, took the train to Scotland and stayed there for 5 days before we took the train back to London.  We then had another day in London where we visited family before we returned home.

The train from Kings Cross in London to Waverley Station in Edinburgh is about a 6 hour trip.  It moves really fast through the countryside, but it makes quite a few stops along the way.  And food on the train is limited, so bring snacks.

I purchased our BritRail Pass online and it was sent to me prior to our departure.  We did a roundtrip pass that could be used within the U.K.  Once the first leg of the trip was taken, the return needed to be taken within 30 days.  I also paid extra and booked our seats online before we left.

BritRail

We grabbed breakfast at Starbucks in Kings Cross.  Ella went in and ordered while I stayed with our luggage outside.  They loved her.  I then went in and ordered and they never asked my name.  Here’s what they wrote when I got my order.  It was so sweet and made my day!

Starbucks Kings Cross

My daughter loved Scotland! She said it was what she thought London was going to be {London was a bit too modern for her, so she appreciated the European feel of Edinburgh.}  If you ask her what her favorite part of our trip was, she’ll tell you it was spending time with family in Scotland.

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Where We Stayed

Waldof-Astoria Edinburgh, The Caledonian

We decided since we only needed a hotel for 2 nights in Edinburgh, we would splurge and opt for luxury digs while there, yet we stayed within budget.  We loved this hotel!  It’s older and has traditional interior design and a historical feel.  Our room was great, came with a Nespresso machine and had a very fancy bathroom.

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh

The location was convenient and close to anything we wanted to do.  We arrived from the Waverley Train Station via taxi and from there we either walked or took the bus where we wanted to go.

What We Did

Day One

Edinburgh Castle – Once we arrived and got settled into the hotel, I used the Maps app on my phone for directions to Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.  The hotel was located at the back end of the castle, so we walked an “off the beaten path” route through cobblestone streets to get there.  It was beautiful!

Travel Edinburgh Scotland Part One

Once we were there, we decided we were castled out so we took a few photos and continued on our way.

Royal Mile – We walked the Royal Mile, bought Edinburgh Rock Candy {it’s the best and it tasted just like my childhood}, popped into St. Giles Cathedral, listened to a bagpiper on the street and then walked down to Princes Street.

Bagpiper Edinburgh Scotland

Princes Street – This is the main street that runs through Edinburgh. We basically made a loop around the city, so we continued back to the hotel walking down Princes Street.  We stopped at the Scott Monument.  I’ve always loved the memorial and it reminds we of Scotland.  Ella found it to be creepy saying it reminded her of spiders.

Scott Monument Edinburgh

Did I mention it was raining and I lost the lens cap to my fancy camera somewhere on Princes Street? I also lost my credit card because I left it in the card reader at the grocery store buying snacks for our hotel room. Luckily, it was turned in and I was able to retrieve it hours later when I finally realized it was gone.  Clearly off my game on this day!

Princes Street Gardens Edinburgh

Day Two

Royal Yacht Brittania – We had to choose between the yacht or Holyrood Palace, and we chose the yacht.  We took the bus from Princes Street in Edinburgh to Leith, where the yacht is housed. It took about half an hour and we were there right when the yacht opened.

Travel Edinburgh Scotland Part One

We bought our tickets, got an audio device and walked around at our own pace.  I loved it!  Ella enjoyed everything except the crew’s quarters.  It got a little claustrophobic down there.

Royal Yacht Brittania

Both Princess Diana and Prince Charles, as well as Fergie and Prince Andrew, spent their honeymoons on the yacht.  It has been out of commission since 1997.  This is a photo of the Queen’s bedroom.

Royal Yacht Brittania

Grassmarket – We took the bus back to the hotel after our visit to the yacht and we decided to walk to this area of town.  It sits behind the castle and has a lot of pubs and shops.  It also has a dark history dating back to the 1600’s.

Grassmarket Edinburgh

We found a Rocketman wall mural, which as a former film publicist, I thought was a brilliant promotion for the movie.  We also did some shopping and Ella got herself a kilt.

Grassmarket Edinburgh Rocketman

Maison de Moggy Cat Cafe –   When we arrived in town, our taxi driver pointed this out to us on our way to the hotel. Ugh.  Ella was obsessed from that moment on.  He warned us that it’s a very popular place.  We stopped by around lunchtime to find out the only spot left was at 5:30 p.m., so we took it.

Maison du Moggy

Ella didn’t ask for much on the trip and she trudged along on all the Princess Diana history lessons, so I decided to throw her a bone.  No pun intended.

They only allow a certain amount of people in the café at a time.  It’s all very regulated.  Most of the cats were sleeping but a few were playful.  I drank cappuccino while Ella played with cats.  Meet Amelie, our favorite.

Most of the other people in our group were not strangers to the cat café and they all LOVED cats.  I can’t say I would ever go to one again, but it was a fun experience.

Day Three

Ella was not feeling well this day and we wondered if it was allergies from the cat café.  Turns out it was probably allergies from all the greenery and the rain.  Anyway, we only had half a day since my cousin and his wife were coming to pick us up to take us to Dundee, Scotland.

Calton HillMy cousin suggested we take a walk up to Calton Hill.  We took the bus down Princes Street and then walked up to the hill.  The views were stunning!

Calton Hill Edinburgh

We took the bus back to the hotel where we were picked up.  We drove the scenic route to Dundee, stopping for afternoon coffee along the Scottish Coast at the Ship Inn in Fife.  We also ran onto the green at St. Andrews for a photo at the Bridge on the 18thHole.

Scottish Coastline

Where We Ate

Beehive InnWe ate lunch here on our second day while in the Grassmarket area.  This pub is owned by Belhaven Pubs, so they offered the same menu we had eaten before at the Prince of Wales Pub in London.

Farmer’s Market – We found this on our second day as we walked to the Grassmarket.  We decided to eat like a local and we shared a mutton pie.  Ella thought it was delicious!  She also thought it was a form of cow.  I didn’t tell her it was sheep.

Mary’s Milk BarThis cute ice cream shop is in the Grassmarket area. We were killing time and Ella loves ice cream.  Can’t beat eating a cone with the Edinburgh Castle in the backdrop!

McDonald’s– We ate dinner here our second night.  Okay, I know we just ate here a week ago when we were in London but I can honestly tell you we haven’t been since.  For some reason, we love to eat at McDonald’s while on vacation, what can I say?  It was close to the hotel.  And it tasted the same.

Peacock Alley at the Waldorf Astoria – We ate lunch here on our last day after our hike to Calton Hill.  We wanted to stay around the hotel while we waited for our ride, so it was convenient and the perfect spot for a light lunch.

Pret – We stopped here for lunch on the day we arrived. It was near the hotel and we just grabbed a quick sandwich before our walk to Edinburgh Castle.

Room Service– We were pretty tired after our train ride and walk around Edinburgh so we decided to enjoy our fancy hotel room and we ordered room service on our first night.  We ended up going to bed around 9 p.m. that night and it was still light outside…

Starbucks – The Starbucks on Princes Street is super fancy.  They have grab and go downstairs, but if you walk upstairs they have fluffy furniture and a huge window overlooking Edinburgh Castle. We came here a lot.

Starbucks Edinburgh

Stay tuned for the rest of our Scottish adventure!  And cheers to traveling again soon!

xoxo

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