Three and a half days in Edinburgh
Updated: May 17, 2020
Liat was invited to talk at a conference about Madness at the University of Edinburgh. Cool – I wanted to travel there for a long time. When we reached the airport, it was already evening. We took the Airlink bus no. 100, just outside the airport. The bus leaves the airport every 10 minutes (15 minutes between midnight and 4 AM). We bought a round trip for 7.5 pounds, and it took us to the city center at Waverly Station. Only 8 minutes walk from our hotel, near the Royal Mile. We stopped for soup and beer at a very friendly pub on the way and reached our lovely hotel – ibis Edinburgh Centre South Bridge.
After a good night's sleep, I walked Liat to the university. Usually, she wants me to navigate. I put the conference address to Google Maps, and only when we arrived, I understood the problem – we walked in the exact opposite direction. Because it was the rush hour, Uber wasn't available on time, so we had to walk back – and more. This time Liat didn't let me lead…
After Liat got inside the university, I searched for my first site to visit. The National Museum of Scotland was very close but open only at 10 AM, like most of the museums and sites in Edinburgh. But next to the museum I saw a large open gate of an old cemetery called Greyfriar. Although some famous people are buried there, It's a dog's grave that takes most of the tourist's attention. I enjoyed the tranquility of the cemetery, and then I went on to the museum. I could have stayed at the museum all day. But Liat joined me at noon, and while we ate some soup at the museum café, she shared that a local colleague told her about a hidden underground city. We were very curious and immediately looked for it on the internet. We booked a guided tour that starts at 16:00 in the middle of the Royal Mile – the guide took us down to the vaults and tunnels under the South Bridge. It was a unique experience.
After the tour, we went up to Edinburgh Castle (that was already closed) and went down the Royal Mile, exploring the most famous street in Edinburgh. Alongside a few significant sites: Churches, Museums, Castles, City Chambers, and more, it is mainly a shopping and restaurant street. Most of the shops sell Kashmir and Whisky.
I have started the second day visiting three free museums on the Royal Mile: The Writer's Museum, People's Story Museum, and the Museum of Edinburgh. After a quick lunch at a food truck compound with Liat, we decided to do some hiking. From Holyrood Park, we climbed to the most beautiful views of Edinburgh – Arthur's Seat.
Unfortunately, we are not in perfect shape, so the climbing wasn't easy for both of us. But it was totally worth it. After we went down from the peak, we desperately looked for toilets – which we found in the Parliament building just across the street. Great place to rest after hiking to Arthur's Seat. We closed the day at the New Town – a lovely walk at the Princess Street Gardens and Rose Street.
We decided to dedicate the third day to visit Loch Lomond. Usually, we prefer to rent a car, but they drive on the left side of the road, and it's kind of scary. So we had no other option than to take a guided tour. There are lots of tour companies, and they all make the same journeys. We picked a trip to Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle with an excellent guide (who was also the bus driver).
The last day was concise due to a noon flight. We went to Edinburgh Castle, and after that, we wanted to drink a coffee at the café where J. K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter – The Elephant House. Unfortunately, it was very crowded and without air conditioning. So we decided to sit in the café just next to it - one of the justified decisions we made on this trip.
So let me sum my experience of Edinburgh with some valuable tips:
Walk the Royal Mile.
Visit at least one castle.
Visit the National Museum of Scotland – look for Dolly.
Drink Whiskey and eat Haggis.
Walk the lively streets of The New Town and the Princess Street Gardens.
Visit the vaults and tunnels under the South Bridge.
If you're healthy – go to Arthur's Seat. Just don't forget to take enough water with you.
Edinburgh is a great city. Have fun exploring it!