Two Days in EdinburghOne of the very few upsides to Matt being on tour and me being off work…

Wait, let me restart this…

The only upside to Matt being on tour and me being off work is that I get to travel around the country and visit him. So far, I’ve only made it to Birmingham which wasn’t the best trip I’ve ever had, as 5 hours into the trip I got struck down by one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had, and spent the next 11 hours asleep in the hotel. As far as trips go, Birmingham wasn’t the greatest.Last week, Matt was in Edinburgh, and I was able to pop up to Scotland for two days and join him in one of, if not the most, beautiful cities in the U.K

Apparently, I’d been to Edinburgh before, in 2005 to march in the G8 Summit march urging world leaders to drop Africa’s debt. I was 13 at the time, so I barely remember it, and I was surrounded by adults so I don’t think I’d have seen much of the city anyway. I’d also passed through Edinburgh dozens of times as a child, as my parents used to take us on day trips to Scotland – so I feel I should have known a bit more about the city than I did. In fact, my knowledge of Edinburgh totally lacking. I knew of Edinburgh castle, and I knew of The Elephant House, where J.K Rowling penned the first three Harry Potter books, but other than that I had no idea what to expect.

Penguins!I arrived at Edinburgh at half ten on Tuesday night, feeling pretty travel sick as usual, so we didn’t start out exploration until the following morning – however even from the short journey from the train station to Matt’s digs, I could see how steep Edinburgh was. Wednesday began at Matt’s favourite place – the zoo. I understand a lot of people have mixed feelings about zoos, but Edinburgh Zoo puts so much money, research and effort into conservation we were happy to go. We were able to see many of our favourite animals, and a few we hadn’t seen before like pandas and koalas. Edinburgh Zoo has a pair of breeding pandas, however we only saw the male. He was asleep at first, but he woke up for a few minutes to patrol his territory. He was a lot smaller than I had imagined, but much faster! His keeper told us she’d seen him reach speeds of 20mph, when he’d accidentally hit himself on the head with some bamboo he was eating and gave himself a fright. The koalas were nothing like how I pictured them – on screen they look fluffy and cuddly, but in real life they seem stretched, and they have no fat on them, so when they’re hunched over a branch they look a bit…alien. Their faces were cute, of course, but their necks were odd!  Yang Guang the panda

We also got to see a Sumatran tiger having a roam, a penguin who is also a Brigadier, a tapir having a bath, some baby rhea, a rhino, lemurs, and many other animals! I’d only ever been to Chester Zoo, so it was nice to see animals in different habitats. It was a bit more difficult to navigate than Chester Zoo though and, like the rest of the city, seemed to be built on a million hills, so by the end of it I had a tremendous headache. Not wanting to repeat the Birmingham trip, we headed to the gardens beneath Edinburgh Castle. The plan was for me to take some painkillers and carry on exploring – but the headache didn’t go, so we carried on exploring but at a much slower pace. Much slower.

Edinburgh Castle, looking very moody!

Seeing as we were next to the castle, we made our way up another insanely steep hill to explore Edinburgh Castle but a company was building a stadium for the Military Tattoo on the castle grounds and we could not work out how to get in! We walked around what we could of the castle, but we really didn’t get the best view. If we were to go to Edinburgh again, the first thing I would do would be to go to the castle, but with the headache getting worse and there being no obvious ways in, we decided to stop and get a cup of tea and a cake at The Elephant House.

The Elephant HouseThe Elephant House is known for being the café J.K. Rowling wrote in while she was penning Harry Potter, but it also sold a really good cup of tea! Inside, the café is filled with warm colours and dark wood, and wouldn’t feel out of place in Hogsmede, but it seemed they kept their Harry Potter connections close to their hearts, showing just a few newspaper cut outs of J.K Rowling. The toilets however, told a different story, and had been signed by Harry Potter fans from all over – rather like the walls of the Cavern club! I have to be honest and say, as much as I love showing my Potter pride, I couldn’t bring myself to write on a wall. Some people had simply signed their names, others had written messages of thanks, and one person had drawn a very detailed picture of a griffin, sparking the question ‘how long were they in there for?’

Edinburgh CathedralAfter eating some cake at The Elephant House, we wandered down The Royal Mile. I had no idea what The Royal Mile was,  I’d only every heard it spoken about in regards to Edinburgh Fringe. The Royal Mile is a collection of streets running at a Scots mile in length, from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Abbey. The architecture is very traditional, and it’s very easy to feel you’ve stepped back in time a little. On the street is St Giles’ Cathedral, a gothic style Presbyterian Cathedral filled with amazing stained glass windows. We couldn’t take pictures inside the cathedral sadly, but even from the outside you can see how beautiful it is.

At this point, my headache became unbearable, so we went to a restaurant to sit down, and then called it a day.

The next day, we woke up early intending to go to Real Mary King Close, a 17th century close preserved underneath the current Royal Mile but we underestimated just how popular it would be and we couldn’t get tickets. Instead, we chose to carry on from where we finished the day before, and continued walking down the Royal Mile. I’d like to remind you that I had no knowledge of Edinburgh, so I was gobsmacked when we encountered this.Arthur's Seat

The peak of this (which, you actually can’t see on this picture…sorry) is Arthur’s Seat, which is the highest point in Edinburgh. It was a beautiful day, and I was feeling determined to walk up a hill without my head feeling like it was going to pop, so we marched up to the almost top, and then I stumbled the rest of the way. In my defense, I was wearing Primark pumps because we hadn’t set out to climb a hill that day. It was a beautiful walk, and we got to see so much from the peak. I did panic a lot at the top, as a huge wind picked up and I was convinced I was going to slip off the edge, so I just sat down and got to look at everything around me. I wish there were more hills to climb in Liverpool! St Michael's Chapel ruins

The steps to the chapel

I was knackered by this point

The path stopped here and became slippery rocks

Bloody slippy rocks, these.

Matt had to go back to work at 4, so we were limited with what we could do as we had to go back to his diggs to pick up my bag before I left. Seeing as we were right next door to it, we headed into Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the Queen in Scotland. We really were in a rush, so we flew around the palace but it did contain some significant historical items that I’d have loved to have been able to really study. The palace is closed when the Queen is in residence, but I’d really like to know if she uses the historical rooms, or if there are newer apartments we don’t see. The bedsheets in the old Queen’s apartment certaintly looked newer than those in the King’s! Holyrood PalaceAt the back of the palace are the well preserved ruins of Holyrood Abbey, ruined since the 18th century. It is a stunning building, and it’s incredible that it was made by hand, with no machines. It feels like a lost art really, I doubt many modern day buildings will have as much as an impact in 300 years. Hollyrood Abbey

Inside the ruins

After we’d finished admiring the Abbey, we headed back to Matt’s digs so he could go to work and I could catch a train back to Liverpool. As sad as I was to leave such a beautiful city, my feet were looking forward to walking on flat land again.

And that, sadly, was the end of my trip to Edinburgh! My next trip is Bristol, and I’m very excited about it, but I’d love to be going back to Scotland some time soon!

Have you been to Edinburgh? If not, would you like to?


9 Responses to Two Days in Edinburgh!

  • Omg, I was literally in Edinburgh the day before you! How strange is that! I went on holiday to Scotland with some friends, so we ended up visiting for a day. We did the zoo as well! My next blog post will feature a very similar (but not as professional) photo of those penguins under the umbrella. They’re so cute!

    We booked panda tickets, but unfortunately they were sleeping when we got there. It’s so cool that you got a photo. That must have been amazing!

    I thought the koalas were adorable. So fluffy!

    It’s cool that you went to the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote. I did wonder why there were so many Harry Potter related shops around Edinburgh. Definitely should have done my research beforehand! I don’t think I would have been comfortable writing on a wall either. Even though it would be cool to have something on there.

    Glad you enjoyed your trip! Hope you have fun in Bristol!

  • It’s a shame you had a headache and couldn’t enjoy your trip as much as you should. I’ve been to Edinburgh last year and it was lovely. I haven’t been to the zoo, but I saw the Castle and it’s worth visiting when you are in Edinburgh next time.
    On the Royal Mile I saw Gladstone’s Land, one of the oldest buildings that can also be visited. It’s part of National Trust. I would like to visit Edinburgh again and see Holyrood and Royal Yacht Britannia (only saw it from outside). There are many more interesting things to see in Edinburgh.
    I can’t wait to read about your trip to Bristol, I haven’t been there.

  • I’ve never been to Edinburgh. In fact, I’ve never been to Scotland before! But I always hear good things about Edinburgh so I think I’ll have to pay a visit sometime. Although I’ll have to make sure I’ve got my walking legs if I plan on walking up those hills.

    Pandas are such beautiful creatures. I’ve never seen one in real life before because, like you, the only zoo I’ve been to is Chester and they don’t have them.

    I hope you have a lovely time in Bristol!

  • That sucks about the headache you had, but the trip still sounded like it was a fun one! I don’t think all zoos are bad, so that’s great that the Edinburgh one puts a lot of efforts into conservation. That’s cool that they had a couple pandas! I love them!

    Oohh, I didn’t know about the Elephant House. I like that they acknowledge their connection to Harry Potter, though it’s kind of weird how fans write on the toilet walls. That’s a funny question though! How long were they in there, indeed, to draw that??

    Aah, I love old architecture, especially details like on St Giles’ Cathedral. The scenery you saw the next day is beautiful too! It’s so green! That looks like such a lovely walk and view.

    I’ve never been to Edinburgh, but I’d love to visit Scotland some time!

  • I’ve never been to Edinburgh but it looks beautiful! I love checking out old castles and ruins and learning the history behind these buildings, especially since there’s nothing like that in the US. I also love visiting zoos and the comment about the panda running into the bamboo gave me a chuckle, reminds me of the time when my cat ran into an empty cardboard box, lol

  • Great photos! I’m from the U.S. and have never been to The UK, but I’m dying to go. I swear, no matter where you are, everything looks beautiful there. I have a thing for beautiful architecture, and I’m really admiring those buildings. They’re so breathtaking.

  • It sucks that you had an headache but I am sure a little there your enjoyed your trip. I wish I will visit scotland one day. The pictures look amazing and the architecture, simply breathtaking. Take care <3

  • Edinburgh looks beautiful!

  • Sorry to hear about your migraines being a pain 🙁 Despite that, though, it looks like you had a wonderful time in Edinburgh. I haven’t been, but I would love to one day! The Elephant House is something I didn’t know about! Being a Harry Potter fan, I’ll definitely stop by there if I’m ever in the area. The close, palace, and abbey all look like good places to check out for the history. Thank you for sharing your trip! If I ever go to Edinburgh, I’ll refer to your post in the future ^_^

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A little-bit-of-everything blog by Katy, 29 from Liverpool. I'm not a hugely exciting person, if I'm being honest...

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