The best of Edinburgh
After our incredibly long heat wave, we escaped to Edinburgh in search of respite.
We found it.
Having gone to Antwerp earlier in the month imagining it will be cooler than our last few Eastern Eurpopean trips, we were robbed into experiencing 35c. So it was nice to pack at least a thin rain mac and a couple of cardis for the first time in weeks and catch a train for our semi-traditional August bank holiday.
Edinburgh never disappoints, even with the loss of three of my favourite places; No 8 Lister Square restaurant had disappeared when we there last December, Ness, the fantastic modern tartan shop was rescued/swallowed by a big tourist retailer and my favourite coffee chain Bean Scene has departed from the city.
Peter's Yard - now Soderberg - is thankfully still around and expanding and we discovered a plethora of new coffee shops in this, the coffee capital of the UK. No 33 is worth visiting for the honey & walnut cake alone.
We were looking forward to experiencing The Hub concept hotel by Premier Inn, which is wonderfully located in Rose Street just around the corner from so many excellent breakfast joints. One of which I can write home about, the wonderful Dishoom (already established in London) plus the waffles at Papii Cafe were pretty good, although we were a little more crammed in there. The Hub itself offered fantastic value buffet for a measly fiver including unlimited coffee, juices, breads, pastries and much more.
Also popping up in Edinburgh to our delight is a branch of Cafe Andaluz with it's excellent array of tapas dishes that we first experienced in Aberdeen. The service and food at Burger was great, as opposed to the touristy burger place around the corner where they asked you to stand and wait 15 minutes for a table (you’ll see it high up in your reviews). Living in the free world, I will never wait in a line for food - Edinburgh has hundreds of restaurants!
We kicked off upon our arrival on Sunday with a roast at The Ox. As is often the case, there was more meat than vegetables (which suits most people, I admit) but it came with pricey craft beer.
Having been to Edinburgh a few times now, especially at the end of August Bank Holiday, it's amazing to still find new parts of the city to explore. We did take advantage of Edinburgh Fringe as per habit and as well seeing Birmingham's James Cook again (he also runs great presentation skills workshops) we decided to see a major act in the shape of Reginald D Hunter, who lived up to my expectations, even if he was seemingly a little under the weather on his last night of a month-long run at the festival. Some how, I've escaped the end of festival fireworks but this year, we stood with the crowds at street level watching up to see the castle transform with the 45-minute display.
For the first time, we took a bus ride out to gorgeous Cramond Beach and it's little Cramond Falls Cafe. On foot, we paid a visit to the stunning Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village and even popped into the Scottish National Portrait Gallery where I really just wanted the loo but got completely drawn in just before we caught our train back to Birmingham. We'd already bought an irresistible print from a truly original artist Raqib Shaw at the Gallery of Modern Art. I'd have liked one of his originals if only I had a wall large enough and it didn't have the potential to frighten any visiting children. And a big budget.
I always love walking around the residential areas of any city but now, having a basement ourselves, noticed for the first time how decorative the below street level courtyards are here.
I made a mental note to add these last joys to explore more next time. It's been eight years since I first visited this beautiful city and I'm still finding out about it.