Kings-cross-train-station Edinburgh-Station-roof

So, this is it! The last of my posts from Edinburgh. It’s testament to the city, really, how tricky it’s been to narrow down only four short days of sightseeing and photo-taking into blog posts (ones that don’t require ten minutes of scrolling!). I could’ve waxed lyrical about all we saw (and ate…) whilst we were in the city! I figured that I’d pop the last few photographs I wanted to share from Edinburgh in one post, and use it as an opportunity to give a few of the restaurants and tourist attractions we visited, as well as other aspects of our holiday a more in-depth review. Look at me, being all informative and ‘travel-blogger’!

:: Travelling by train ::
We made the decision to take the train up to Edinburgh, as opposed to flying or driving. We live just south of London, and so the from door-to-door the entire journey took about 6 and a half hours. We made the decision for a few reason: 1. Because I hate flying, and if there’s an option for us to get somewhere without having to board a plane, I’m all over it like a rash! I wouldn’t say I’ve got a phobia of flying or anything super serious, but it does make me anxious enough that I’ll dread flying home throughout whatever holiday I’m on and so was keen not to have our break spoiled by my silly worrying! The train journey was really relaxing, and kind of forced us both to take a breather after having had a busy few weeks in the run up to going away.

And reason number 2. The train was cheaper, since I have a 16-25 railcard and so could take 1/3 off the price of the ticket up to Edinburgh. Score! The only thing we would say though is that if you book with a company like The Train Line (as we did) make sure you check your connection times before you book the tickets. We actually missed our train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh, because The Train Line had booked us onto a train that left Kings Cross only 25 minutes after our train from home got into Waterloo. Even though we caught tube trains really promptly, there’s no way we would’ve made the connection! So, check your tickets people! (One last note about the train- I reread Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone on the way there, and it was awesome.)
  Gothic-architecture Edinburgh-scenes Edinburg-skyine Nira-Caledonia-hotel

Nira Caledonia
I’ve mentioned before that the hotel we stayed in was the Nira Caledonia, but it deserves a little more press than it got in my previous post. It really is the loveliest hotel we’ve *ever* stayed in. Jason and I always feel that it’s the little details are what make a good hotel great, and the Nira Caledonia was full of them. The concierge greeted us by name upon arrival, coffees were unlimited and delicious, the juices at breakfast were all fresh (not watery or synthetic tasting!), the bed linen was plush, and we didn’t need to remortgage our house just to grab a coke from the minibar. Which, you know, is always great! ;) We were completely blown away by our room too! We actually were given an upgrade when we arrived (a complete- and very lovely- surprise!) and so ended up staying in one of the Garden Suites which comprised of a huge living space, bedroom, ensuite bathroom, and private access to the hotel’s garden. It was crazy beautiful! There’s not one single thing I could fault about the hotel, and we felt that the service more than justified the (incredibly reasonable!) price we paid to stay there. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.

The Blackwood Grill
The Blackwood Grill is the restaurant linked to the Nira Caledonia, and was where we ate dinner the night we got engaged. The food (and service!) was absolutely superb. We ate an amuse bouche of tempura fried cauliflower with a sweet soy dipping sauce (cauliflower has never tasted so good!), lobster ravioli (for Jase), fillet steak, charred winter vegetables, triple-cooked duck fat chips, sea bass with a herby tomato sauce, and warm chocolate fudge cake to share for dessert. That cake was *insane*. I swore blind I didn’t want dessert, but the waiter (who obviously knew how amazing that cake was) slyly handed me a spoon and a knowing smile at the same time as he brought Jason his slice of warm fudge cake. I’ll be honest with you, the situation worked out less well for Jason than it did for me…;)

Fresh-vanilla-fudge Fudge-Kitchen-fudge

Fudge Kitchen
The Fudge Kitchen fudge was expensive, and tasty. Not the nicest fudge I’ve ever had, but really lovely and buttery, and great in how varied the range of flavours was. We brought home a box of four different flavoured slices for my Mum and sister, and a slice of the vanilla for ourselves which we only managed to eat half of before we accidentally left it on the coffee table, and Teddy stole and scoffed the rest. And then he smelt so bad for the next 48 hours we were tempted to shut him out in the garden until the fudge situation had…passed. So…there’s that information for you.


Mary King’s Close tour
Okay, now for a not so great review. Jason and I were both really disappointed by the tour we took of Mary King’s Close! Jason had been so looking forward to it (you know how we love a good dose of history!) and even though I’d been reluctant to go at first, by the time the tour came around I’d become really excited about it! We found that the information given on the tour (by a guide who was dressed in period clothing, and who assumed a character based on one of the real residents of 17th Century residents of Mary King’s Close) was kind of gimmicky, and not as insightful or informative as we’d like. It almost felt as though we could have got pretty much the same information just with a little Googling, you know? The tour itself wasn’t ridiculously expensive (I think we paid £12.95 each) but ultimately, we felt we’d rather have spent the time and money on exploring another part of the city. Not something I’d really recommend, if I’m honest.

Grassmarket Blue-door

Holyrood no.9
The Holyrood no.9 was another of the places that came most highly recommended for us to visit in the city, and it didn’t disappoint. Not one single bit. Burgers = excellent! Chips = excellent! Drinks = excellent! Jason and I ordered BBQ burgers with brioche instead of ciabatta buns (we’re far fonder of brioche buns than we are ciabatta, thank you *very* much) and demolished them in about thirty seconds flat. They’re very different to our beloved Patty & Bun burgers (which are really super soft and so juicy you kind of almost need to wear an apron and rubber gloves to eat one- sexy) in that the burger itself was far thicker and kind of ‘steakier’…if we can pretend that steakier is a word. In short, we loved it there. Definitely worth a visit, if you’re in the area!

Final things to note about the city! 1. Even though we were there midweek (Monday-Thursday) AND out of season (mid-April) we still found that pretty much every time we went to a restaurant in the evenings, we had to wait at least half an hour for a table. Apparently this is pretty standard for Edinburgh, and that you really do need to book tables in advance if you want to be seated straight away each evening. And 2. It’s an incredibly hilly place, and since the city is pretty small we ended up walking all over each day instead of hopping on the tube/bus as we would do in London. So pack comfortable shoes (ones that can cope with a load of cobbles!)

And that’s it! Edinburgh- you were a blast! We’ll *definitely* be back!


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Mary's-Milk-Bar-Salted-Caramel-gelato   Mary's-Milk-Bar Mary's-Milk-Bar-milkshake-machine Mary's-Milk-Bar-Icecream Mary's-Milk-Bar-Coffee Mary's-Milk-Bar-gelato-and-sorbet

Three words kept cropping up in the comments and emails I received after asking for recommendations of where to eat whilst in Edinburgh last week :: Mary’s. Milk. Bar.

Over and over again, people told us we couldn’t possibly visit Edinburgh and not stop to worship at the shrine of Mary. And because we are good, obedient people (especially when the reward for obedience is ice-cream) we took a trip down to Grassmarket and to Mary’s Milk Bar on Wednesday afternoon! I’ll tell you, it didn’t disappoint…

We ordered one scoop of smoky salted caramel, one of the kiwi and banana sorbet, and a couple of coffees. E v e r y t h i n g (including the coffee) was absolutely outstanding. The gelato was some of the creamiest I’ve ever eaten (in Italy & the UK) and the sorbet was incredible! Mary herself was so lovely to chat with too, and the shop (all retro and pastel-hued) was so sweet and friendly and charming. We want to go back and sample the full range of milkshakes, and some of the more unusual gelato flavours too! It’s just as well we have such strong ties to the city now (what with getting engaged there and all…), because otherwise it might be embarrassing to keep going back to Edinburgh *just* for the ice-cream…

Find Mary at ::
Mary’s Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket
EH1 2HS 


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Tuesday was our first full day in Edinburgh. We woke up kind of early (well, early for us, at least) and had a light breakfast of fresh fruit, juice, yoghurt and granola in the hotel before heading out to explore the city. The hotel we stayed in was called the Nira Caledonia (I’m going to write a little more about it in a separate post) and was in Edinburgh’s New Town (about a 15 minute walk from the Royal Mile). We actually really loved mile-or-so walk from our hotel into town! It stopped us feeling too sluggish from all the amazing food we ate whilst we were in the city, and the area of town our hotel was in felt peaceful and tucked away compared with the hustle and bustle of the city centre. We’d recommend it in a heartbeat! But I’m getting ahead of myself though…

Cucumber-water Mussels

After a couple of hours exploring the Royal Mile on Tuesday morning (including a stop to book tickets for a tour of Mary King’s Close, some hat-trying-on, and a little tweed shopping) we headed to The Crafter’s Barn for lunch. We’d given the restaurant a miss whilst scouting for a place to eat dinner the previous night, but decided it looked way nicer than we had initially thought when we walked past it the next day! And we were so glad we went in! The meal we ate there was some of the nicest food we ate in Edinburgh (and we ate at a lot of seriously good places!) and was pretty reasonably priced too. Jason ordered mussels and a glass of Chilean merlot that I ended up drinking half of (unwittingly sharing the Dutch courage Jason so badly needed for proposing later on that day!) and I ordered two smaller plates- haggis and Quail’s Scotch eggs, and spicy braised chorizo.

The whole meal came to £24- no bargain, but not bank breaking either! The Scotch eggs especially were super delicious, and Jason told me afterwards that even though he was too nervous at the time to really appreciate his mussels (too busy making sure I didn’t accidentally find the ring box in his jacket pocket!) they were really very tasty! ;) Oh and as a side note- that restaurant is Instagram-heaven! Drinks served in mason jars, exposed lightbulbs hanging from the ceiling, distressed wood tables- you name it, they have it!


 ^^ This is the face of a very nervous man. Not that I knew so at the time. I was completely oblivious to his nerves and stressing, and was just really enjoying my lunch! ;) ^^


^^ Yolk porn ^^


After we’d finished lunch, we walked up the hill (another one! Edinburgh is the hilliest place I’ve ever been!) and queued up to get tickets for the castle. We’d been so keen to get to the castle, and it didn’t disappoint! If you go, I’d really recommend taking one of the little guided tours round the castle. They’re included in the price of the ticket, leave every 25 minutes or so and are way more engaging than a standard audio guide. We also totally fell in love with the Edinburgh accent whilst we were in the city, so the tour was a great excuse to listen to it for a solid 20 minutes! ;)


^^ It was breezy though, as you can see from the mess on my head. ^^

Edinburgh-castle-tickets Scottish-flag Cider-with-Rosie-proposal

After we’d taken our little guided tour and wandered around a few of the specific sites of interest, Jason suggested we go to a little balcony that our guide had told us had some of the best views of the city. Not realising Jason was trying to get me to go somewhere beautiful and quiet so that he could propose, I said ‘Let’s go and see the prisoner of war dungeons first!’! So my poor nervous man had to traipse around the dungeons behind me for another 15 minutes, whilst I read all about the history of the prisons and tried to understand why Jason didn’t seem interested in it at all! We’ll need to go back to the castle next time we’re in the city, just so that Jason can get chance to appreciate it properly!

After we’d finished touring the dungeons, and I’d made Jason wait *again* whilst I stopped to buy water (he told me afterwards he couldn’t believe how difficult it was to get me to the little balcony where he wanted to propose!) we went out to the viewpoint to admire the city. And then, right there in the sunshine and the breeze, overlooking the whole of the city, Jason got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was perfect.

Afterwards I couldn’t even remember if I’d said ‘yes’ (the moment was so incredible neither of us can really remember it in too much detail!) but Jason assures me I did! A few of our friends and family had been asking if I thought Jason might propose whilst we were away in the city, but he’d done such a good job of keeping his proposal-planning and ring-shopping a complete secret that I was totally convinced it wouldn’t happen! The only people who knew it was coming was Jason’s team at Flourish (who guessed he’d been ring shopping after he went out for longer than normal one afternoon! They know him so well!) and my Mum, who Jason had asked for my hand in marriage the weekend before we went away.


^^ The last photo ever taken of us as boyfriend & girlfriend :) ^^


And that was it!I forgot to take any more photos after Jason proposed (I could barely remember how to switch my camera on, my head was that foggy from joy and love and happiness and maybe the champagne a bit too) but the rest of the day was just beautiful.

We left the castle right away afterwards and walked back to our hotel (smiling like idiots at each other and every person we passed in the street the whole walk back!) and spent the afternoon drinking champagne in the little private garden our room opened up on to. There was a piper playing in the street just as we walked out of the castle, and even though Jason had never been too keen on bagpipes before then, the sound was so moving I think it’ll hold a special place in our hearts forever now. If I could have paused time and lived in that moment for an hour or two longer, where were standing listening to a piper play in a sunny Edinburgh street about five minutes after getting engaged and our hearts were full to bursting, I would have. It was magic.

And since all I want to do is talk and think and write about engagements right now, if you’re engaged, will you tell me how it happened? Did you cry? I didn’t cry one bit even though I’d always imagined I would!


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Edinburgh-National-Geographic *Photo from NatGeo

What’s that? We’re going to Edinburgh next week? I know, it’s a shock. I mean, it’s not like I’ve mentioned it a hundred times in the past couple of weeks or anything. Jason and I are just pretty psyched to take some time off, I guess!

But the point of this post is- help us, please! Jason and I are kind of the worst at travelling and holidaying (we leave booking until the last minute, never plan anything, forget stuff- honestly, we’re ridiculous) and so we’d really appreciate any tips or recommendations about where to go, what to eat, where to shop whilst we’re in Edinburgh! We’re staying right in the middle of the city, and so can get pretty much anywhere with ease but don’t mind hopping on a bus if there’s a place you’d recommend we visit a little outside the city!

We’d really like to take a trip out of the city to visit the Rosslyn Chapel, and also climb up to the top of Arthur’s Seat. And like I said before, Jason really wants us to go on a tour round Mary King’s Close (which I’ll spend quaking like a leaf and tallying up girlfriend points). But beyond that, we’re open to suggestions! So, hit me up! Are there any great restaurants we should visit whilst we’re in the city? Or good places for mid-afternoon coffee and cake? Any lush wine bars? (I want to get dressed up!) How about cultural stuff- museums and such? If you’ve been to Edinburgh and blogged about it, do feel free to pop a link in the comments! I’d love to read your posts!

Thank you thank you in advance!

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