A couple of weeks ago, on a whim, I booked a solo Ryanair flight to Edinburgh. I had never been to Scotland, and was eager to add another country to my list… the flight was also only 30 euro ($35) round trip, so how could I pass that opportunity up?! So, I booked the hour-long flight that got me there at 8 am, and got me home the next night at 9 pm, and happily went to town researching this random place.
Holy moly, y’all. The charm. It definitely felt like the old world, and I had a feeling that if I squinted hard enough, I’d be able to see little ole Oliver Twist covered in soot. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but I fell in love!
After checking in to Castlerock Hostel (totally recommend!) and dropping my stuff off in their luggage room, I did Sandeman’s free walking tour to get my bearings on the city. I ALWAYS advise doing a tour- and who can say no to free? Of course, donations are taken at the end, but it sure beats paying $20 for something that’s not even guaranteed to be good.
The tour ended in front of the National Museum of Scotland, so I took a couple of hours to wander. One of the amazing things about Edinburgh is that most of their museums are free! This worked out great, as I only withdrew £50 ($75), to last me two days- I was determined to make the city fit my budget!
The museum was around the corner from The Elephant House, the birthplace of Harry Potter! No, really. J.K. Rowling sat in this cafe and wrote the first two Harry Potter books. I sat down with a slice of lemon lavender cake and chai, and soaked up the environment. The cafe is FILLED with elephants (my absolute favorite animal) as well as Harry Potter memos here and there. As a fellow writer, I felt so amazed to have stumbled upon this- it’s certainly something 5th grader Monique never thought she’d do!
Walked around some more, and ended the night with a meal of haggis at The Royal Mile Tavern. For those that don’t know, haggis is a traditional Scottish dish made of a sheep’s… well, everything. It’s made up of spices, oats, and sheep “leftovers”- the heart, lungs, liver, etc. I liked it- to me, it just tasted like really peppery ground beef. You could definitely feel the waxy liver texture though, which I didn’t really care for. Mexicans stomach some weird foods anyway though (menudo, barbacoa, etc.), so, to me, it wasn’t a big deal meal.
The next day, I was all over town. I stopped in St. Giles’ Cathedrial, hiked up Arthur’s Seat, wandered through the Museum of Edinburgh, peeked into The Writer’s Museum, went vintage shopping, ate a cheap and delicious Asian lunch, strolled down a UNESCO street in New Town, sampled amazing homemade marshmallows, and took another hike up Calton Hill to get the cliche Edinburgh picture. I walked 12.5 miles according to my pedometer, and I believe it.
There wasn’t anything that I ventured to see that I didn’t end up liking. So if you’re looking for a good cheat sheet on what to do, here is a good one! I loved Edinburgh, and would definitely come back again. The fact that they’re on the pound kills me because it makes everything SO expensive, but I felt content with what I did and I stayed in my budget too! And, I didn’t visit the “legendary” castle, but I was okay with what I did get to do. I also traveled solo for the first time- which I’ll be writing about soon, too!