Irn-Brus drank: 1
Innis & Gunn drank: 5
Haggis eaten: 3
Neeps and tatties eaten: 1
Men in kilts seen: Countless
For the past few years I have been able to celebrate my birthday in a different city- my 21st in London, my 22nd in China, my 23rd in Prague, and now my 24th in Edinburgh!
We spent a long weekend in Edinburgh, and managed an action-packed itinerary without spending a ridiculous amount of money. If you want to discover ways to enjoy Edinburgh on a budget, read on!
We met at Kings Cross, and took the train up to Edinburgh from Platform 0 (not 9&3/4). We chose the train over a flight because a) there was no waiting around and b) Edinburgh Waverley takes you right into the city centre. Living in Portsmouth, I rarely travel up north, so it was nice to pass through cities like York and Newcastle on the way up, and hear the change in accents board the train!
Once we arrived in Edinburgh, we headed to St Stephens Street, where we had booked Air BnB. Hollie, our ‘host’, was there to show us around the flat before she headed out. The flat had tons of candles, plants, and books everywhere, a sort of arty-hippy vibe which I loved. We dumped our bags and wandered down the road into a busy little cellar pub called The Bailie. We bravely took our seats as we watched the last half of the England vs. Wales Six Nations game; there weren’t many cheers for England!
We ate dinner that night at Wee Buddha, on Jamaica Street. This Asian-Scottish restaurant had too many interesting things we wanted to try, so we ordered 5 starter dishes and shared them. My favourite dish was definitely the haggis dumplings!
As recommended by Hollie, and now by myself, we walked down to Stockbridge Market. There were loads of different stalls; pastries, cooked foods, local crafts and arts, fish, cheese, craft beer. I wrote a previous post on why you should spend money when you’re away, and with this in mind, we indulged. I bought pastries, an orange chocolate brownie, Haggis scotch eggs, a small canvas painting of Edinburgh, and a Latin American chicken-stuffed bun… and then we shared a generous serving of paella. There’s a good mix of stalls there and it’s open 10am-5pm every Sunday.
Edinburgh Castle was the next place to visit- we took in the great views, interesting little museums and sections to visit, like the prisoners of war prison, Crown Jewels room, and a couple of war museums.
After a couple of hours at Edinburgh Castle we walked down The Royal Mile and then a little road between there and Grassmarket where we sampled and bought some cheese, and ate it in the pub opposite, The Bow Bar, where we tried whisky and watched the last of the Scotland vs. France game.
Once we’d lined our stomachs with whisky and cheese, we headed up to Calton Hill and got to the top just after sunset. The views of the city and the sea were amazing, all topped off with purple and orange hues streaking itself across the sky. Once I’d taken many, many photos (why is it you can never capture the perfect image of something perfect?!), we walked back to St Stephens and had dinner at a great little burger restaurant called Bell’s Diner. The food was amazing and they serve great peanut butter milkshakes too!
My birthday! Hollie had left a little note on the kitchen counter wishing me a happy birthday. A friend recommended Pig in a Poke for lunch, but as this was closed we went to SocialBite on Rose Street. It focuses on helping homeless people back into work so with every meal you buy you’re really helping them- the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties I had was delicious.
We’d booked ourselves onto a tour of the Scottish Parliament- this is free, you just have to book in advance , and it’s right next to Arthur’s Seat so there’s a day planned for you. The only downside to the Scottish parliament tour was that they took my water bottle away and didn’t tell me!! You put your things through a scanner like at an airport but it wasn’t until we were halfway up Arthur’s Seat, that I realised they’d taken it off me 😦 (So if that’s the only downside then it’s worth the visit!). The tour lasted about an hour and there was roughly 15 or so in our group. If you’re not into politics then go for the architecture.
Next we tackled Arthur’s Seat. I didn’t enjoy the climb up as I was wearing boots that were starting to nip at my heel, but once we got to the top the views were in-cred-ible and so worth the thousand blisters I had acquired. You can’t really say too much about places like that- you have to do it yourself to understand how amazing the views really are.
As we headed back down the other side, we essentially scaled a rock face and at one point I was lying horizontal, and probably about to drop to my death, but instead of panicking I just got the giggles.
That evening we went to comedy club The Stand for their Monday night ‘Red Raw’, which features 12 new comedy acts doing 10 minutes of stand up. It’s only £2 entry and cheap beers all round so I recommend a visit. It was a good mix of acts, with a dose of Donald Trump and Kardashian-based punchlines- all in all it was a great end to my birthday!