Monday 14 May 2018

Kilts, Cobbles & Cocktails

Not too long ago, myself and my two friends decided to book a few days away in a city where we could shop, sightsee, and of course have a few cocktails. After much deliberation and debate in the group chat, we decided upon Edinburgh.

In my 25 years I have never once set foot on Scottish soil, so I was quite excited and didn't really know what to expect. All I knew was that haggis was definitely not going anywhere near my mouth. As soon as we arrived, I was quite taken aback at how beautiful the city is. It's old, full of character and has such a relaxed but also busy feel about it. There's also no shortage of bars and restaurants as there are numerous streets basically dedicated to such establishments.

We had around four hours to wait before we could check in to our apartment, and of course ended up sitting in a bar. We also spent around half of those four hours tramping up and down the same street trying to locate our accommodation, and when we came across the world's dodgiest looking door, panic set in. We hauled our suitcases up a set of very dark and uninviting stairs expecting the worst when we stepped into our apartment. However, it was like stepping into Narnia. It was a decent sized space, with two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, kitchen, and to Jill's excitement, a tumble dryer...

After dropping off our luggage, we did a bit of snooping round the shops and managed to lose each other in Primark. Which was absolutely fantastic considering there was no phone signal, it was like a sauna and people were giving me funny looks, because I definitely looked like a five year old child who had accidentally dandered away from her mum. The fact that I had been awake since 3am didn't really help with the stress either. Great shop though!

Following a bit of retail therapy and me saying, "There's the castle" enough times that I even irritated myself, we headed back to the apartment to get ready to head out that night. I underestimated the thigh workout you get from trotting across cobbles in high heels, but it was either that or wear flat shoes and frankly, that's not for me. The fact my legs are still aching now shows the level of skill, balance, and endurance I demonstrated.

We ended up visiting a bar called Paradise Palms where the ceiling was covered in what can only be described as Rachael's cuddly toy collection from 1995. It was jam packed so after a couple of drinks we set off into the night, over the uneven footpaths to find another spot, which of course ended up being an Irish bar. Great atmosphere, friendly staff, and decent music, there was even a guy trying to chat me up on the dancefloor, but unfortunately at this stage of the night, all I really wanted were my pyjamas and my bed, so he didn't stand a chance. Sorry, hopefully you and your Invictus aftershave got home alright.

The following day we were up and out early enough to make the most of the unexpectedly great weather. We did this by going deep underground to the Edinburgh Dungeons... I've already visited the London Dungeon twice, and this was more or less the same idea but of course more about the history of Edinburgh. Great if you like being scared, not so great if you're still half asleep from the night before and they keep sending you into dark rooms.

Of course there was more shopping done, and we visited the best H&M ever. We also sat in St Andrew Square eating chicken while plonked on the grass in the sun. And we finally walked up to the castle so I could get a proper photo, as shouting "There's the castle" every two minutes and trying to get a photo between all the doubledecker buses going past, wasn't very effective.

The general atmosphere of Edinburgh is quite unique, as wherever you go there's sure to be someone in a kilt standing on a footpath blowing a set of bagpipes. The Scottish must be born with naturally powerful lungs. You can also buy falafel and haggis on basically every corner, and even treat yourself to a tartan scarf if the Scottish culture consumes you.

The buildings really are beautiful and I'm sure very much steeped in history, but I couldn't look up too much for fear of twisting an ankle on a cobble. So after walking probably about five times round the whole of Edinburgh soaking up the sun and the sights, we went home to again get ready for another night out. This time we took a taxi to Hanover Street and visited one of the quirkiest bars I've ever been in, called Hoot The Redeemer. You totter down some stairs and in through a door that's actually a fortune telling machine from a fairground. The toilet walls are also covered in pages from Fifty Shades of Grey, so if you've never had the chance to read it you could just chill in there for a while.

Even the drinks were quirky, and I spotted a girl holding one that was changing colour, much to my concern (apparently there was a light in it). It's such a cool place though, and definitely worth a visit if you happen to be visiting Edinburgh. After one more bar stop, we headed home via a pizza shop of course, and hit the hay as the weekend's antics were finally catching up with us.

On Sunday we only had about half a day before we had to head to the airport, so we paid a visit to Camera Obscura, an optical illusion attraction. It's full of lots of things that play around with your mind and sight, the tunnel that makes you feel like you're being tipped sideways was a personal favourite (not!). The view from the top of the building was amazing too, and made for the perfect photo opportunity. This was followed by some ice cream while perched on a step, and yet more traditional bagpipe music from a fella with an impressive lung capacity.

After a quick pitstop at Costa, we were back on the tram on our way to the airport. I can honestly say I had such a good weekend, and now have calves of steel after walking up so many unevenly cobbled hills. Everyone was so friendly, it's really easy to get around as you can basically walk everywhere, and there's lots to do. I'd like to hope I'll be back in the future, but for now I'm away to bed.


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