After moving from Vancouver to London, our first European excursion on the continent was a trip up to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. Luckily we were meeting some family friends there and could take advantage of some free accommodation! Travelling to Edinburgh during this time is hectic (and expensive) so be sure to book any accommodation well in advance. We took the train up from London and it was a fantastic experience cruising through the English and Scottish countryside. It only takes 5 hours and I highly recommend it – no stressful airport trips for us! We arrived at Waverley Station in the heart of Edinburgh and were immediately greeted by old stone buildings and streets. Exactly how we imagined it to be. We also got a glimpse of Edinburgh castle high on the cliff which was a stunning introduction to the city.
In a move that was completely uncharacteristic of me, I did not plan anything in advance for our time at the Fringe Festival. I do not recommend this. The shear amount of shows on offer makes it difficult to decide which ones to go to and figure out where they are located. We spent a lot of time merely trying to make decisions. Also getting into places to eat dinner involved hours of waiting so I recommend making some reservations at places you are really keen to eat at. Organisation will be your best friend, I promise. No matter, we still made the best of our time there! We saw some pretty incredible shows and some pretty horrific ones too which was entertaining in itself. We even managed to see one of Andrew’s all-time favourite comedians – Ari Shaffir. The locations of the shows were in all sorts of places and any vaguely appropriate space was turned into a theatre. The city was literally buzzing the whole time we were there and we loved it.
We loved our time simply bar hopping down the Royal Mile, popping in for some pints and some haggis. We ended up surprising ourselves by how much we actually enjoyed haggis and had it many different ways – in burgers, by itself, in pies – what an adventure. The pubs are fun and often have some live music to listen too, you can even visit Greyfriars Bobby and rub its namesake statue on the nose for some good luck.
In order to combat the amount of beer we were drinking and food we were eating, we decided to do a bit of exercise and go for a walk up Arthur’s Seat for some great birds eye views of Edinburgh. The hike itself is pretty steep but not too long so it makes for a relatively easy outdoor activity. The views really are gorgeous and I highly recommend this to get a good feel for the layout of the city. On our walk back to our accommodation we also walked past the parliament buildings and Holyrood Palace which is where the Queen stays while she is in Edinburgh.
There are a few side trips you can take while staying in Edinburgh and we decided to head up to the Glen Turet whisky distillery near Crieff (about an hour and a half from Edinburgh). The drive through the Scottish countryside was beautiful with old stone fences and small villages along the way. Once at Glen Turet we went on one of their distillery tours to find out how whisky is made at the place that is most famous for being a top ingredient in the Famous Grouse Blended Whisky. I myself am not a huge whisky drinker but the boys assured me the whisky was top class.
Another side trip we went on from Edinburgh was to the nearby village of Culross, only about an hour away. This small village is like going back in time and it is easy to forget that you are not in fact in the 16th century. Wondering the streets and stopping at a café to have some delicious Scottish tablet (fudge). Culross Palace is worth a visit, it is a restored 16th century wealthy merchant’s house. Also, the ruins of the Culross Abbey are definitely worth having a look at, the ruins are beautiful and were built in the 1200s.
Overall our time in Edinburgh was busy, fascinating and fantastic. It is like going back in time, with its beautiful cobbled stress and old buildings, it truly feels magical. We spent 4 days in Edinburgh and budgeted about £60 (NZ$120) per day per person. Bear in mind that we didn’t have to pay for accommodation so you would need to add this to your budget. We largely stuck to this amount but spent a bit more when we decided to have some big nights out.