“To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
The next day I woke up early and had breakfast at my hostel before setting out by train to Edinburgh. I took a train from Liverpool over to Wigan and then from there all the way to Edinburgh.
As it was holiday season, the train to Edinburgh was quite full. There was even a full bachelorette party going on in one of the cars, complete with champagne. It was quite amusing to watch.
Regardless I arrived in Edinburgh realizing that it was going to be a bit crazy what with Easter and all.
I walked from the train station right to my hostel. It was quite close which was handy.
I stayed at Royal Mile Backpackers, which I think has been one of my favorite hostels of the trip. It’s right on the Royal Mile, a very central and important street that houses many of the tourist attractions in Edinburgh. On top of that, it’s clean and spacious. The beds all have their own chargers and reading lights and were very comfortable. Sadly no free breakfast, but you can buy one for two pounds, which isn’t bad all things considered.
I left my luggage and headed off to explore.
I started by going up to the castle. The weather seemed okay, so I decided it might be a good time to do the castle and after I could see some of the other things. However, I was feeling a bit peckish, so I grabbed an ice cream outside the castle before heading off to go inside.
It’s a bit pricey going in, but it’s a huge area and there’s lots to see. There are basically a collection of different museums there that you can go into. As it was Easter weekend it was quite crowded, so I had a hard time really seeing much of the museums, but it was still fun to walk around and explore.
If I’d had more time I think I would have enjoyed either doing a guided tour or getting an audio guide. But feeling a bit rushed I decided it would be just as well to walk around myself.
After finishing up at the castle I headed down just a short distance to the Scotch Whiskey Experience.
I’m not much of a whiskey drinker… well in fact I had never tried whiskey before in my life. But I’m not one to pass up on a unique opportunity to learn something new about a particular region. If you read about my Spain trip you’ll remember I did a sherry bodega there too. Alcohol makes up part of the local culture and cuisine, and I like learning more about it if I can.
So whiskey it was!
Again quite crowded so I had to wait more than an hour to get in. However, once inside I had to admit it was a pretty fun experience. You do a short ride in a barrel…well not a real barrel, to learn more about the process of making whiskey. Then you go see a film about the different Scotland regions, complete with a sniff card so you can get a sense of the different flavors. And then you get to go try a glass of whichever region appeals to you most and learn more about blending whiskies.
If you pay more you get to sample more after, but for the poor people like me it’s just one, setting it on the colored circle of what region you want to try. The one was fine, because the shot of whiskey I had was… well let’s just say I don’t think whiskey is my stuff. Too strong for my tastes, although I at least do I have a little better sense of the drink itself and how to taste it.
The tour finished in the largest collection of Scotch Whiskey in the world, which was indeed quite impressive to see.
I headed to the Real Mary King’s Close after I finished my tour. I’d seen good reviews on tripadvisor, so I thought I’d give it a try. However the Easter weekend problems continued. Turns out the tours were fully booked for the day, so I made a reservation for the next day hoping I could squeeze it in with everything else I wanted to do.
I walked around a bit after that, but most things were closed so there weren’t too many options of other places to go into.
So lastly was dinner. I asked at the desk about good options and the guy there mostly gave me like chips restaurants and such, so not necessarily what I was looking for, because after a full day with no food I needed something more balanced. So I headed off down the mile (well technically not a mile… since measurements have changed) looking for somewhere to eat.
Settled in a little place just off the mile called Villagers. It was a cute little pub that had decent reviews and lower prices. Portions were a bit small, but the staff was friendly and the food was quite good. So all in all I was quite pleased.
Then it was back to the hostel for the night. All in all quite a good day in Edinburgh!