Edinburgh: Ghost Tours, National Museum of Scotland, Serrano Manchego.


I suck. I'm fully aware of this. I'm really sorry for the recent lapse in posts. Life has been a little overbearing and I haven't found the time to write up the second and last post about my trip to Scotland. In all honesty, a small okay, large, part of me didn't want to write about it as it then meant that the trip was indeedly (that's a word, yup, not taking it back) over. My lovely partner was back home in California and I was left here to mourn for the mornings of french toast, adventures, and being with the man who completes me. Somewhat pathetic, but true. Alas, I am putting my big girl pants on and giving you a run down of all things Edinburgh, and a little Glasgow peak.

If you have read my first post on the trip (click here if you haven't), you'll know that we spent two nights Glamping near the Loch Ness and then drove down to Edinburgh to spend a further four(ish) days. We arrived on Tuesday evening and drove down to Glasgow on the Friday. We had two half days and two full. I wish we'd had more time, and I wish I was at the peek of health so we could do the various other things that were on our list (Edinburgh Castle, World of Illusions, The Jazz Bar, etc..) but we'll one day get to them.

Where We Stayed:
Our accommodation was a roller-coaster. We had one beautiful. homely place and one that I wouldn't send my worst enemy to. Let's start with the good. The Strathallan Guest House. Homey interior, a mere 20 minute walk from The Royal Mile and an all round great atmosphere. Upon arrival, we were surprised with an upgrade (originally having booked the attic room as it was cheaper) and a pleasant interaction with the owner. Breakfast is included in the room price. They offer an array of cooked breakfasts, cereal, fruit, juice, hot drinks, and a few other things. This has since been voted the best place we stayed solely for the pleasant atmosphere. You never felt rushed nor a nuisance for coming and going. The staff were helpful and were happy to engage in conversation. I can't rate it highly enough. There was only one minor downfall and that was the wifi. It didn't work. But if it had been important enough, we would of asked and I'm positive they would've solved the problem. 

Now for the bad. 16 Pilrig Guest House. This is a newly opened establishment so I can understand having some faults and things that need tweaking, but in all sincerity, it was awful. If I hadn't been unwell and we were staying for longer than one night, I imagine we would of left. The windows wouldn't close (which in Scottish weather is not the best), the owners of the establishment were loud and didn't quiet down until almost midnight, the lock of the bedroom door wouldn't properly lock so we were forced to wedge it closed, the heating didn't work, my partner cut his leg on what appeared to be a nail sticking out of the bed base, and the owners weren't necessarily welcoming. It felt like a minor interrogation for our information (which was in form of a three page Q&A sheet that required a passport number). They said they had parking on the ad for the place, but that consisted of street parking that wasn't all that easy to find. We didn't take photos as it didn't occur to us to (this blog post wasn't planned). It was disheartening and a far cry from our first place. The only positive was that the bed was comfortable.

Where We Ate:
We ordered in a lot, so this list in tiny and I'm sorry for that. I repeat for the millionth time, my health was at a low and that stopped us from going out some nights. I hate that fact but it is what it is. Sometimes you need a caring person there to tell you to get your ass on the bed and watch Last Exile with him. (Okay, that may be me and him specific but I stand by the overall meaning).

Burgers and Beers Grillhouse: For a good 97% of you, I won't have to go any further with this recommendation, you'll be down for it. Situated on The Royal Mile, B&BG is in an ideal location if you're thinking of doing any of the tours (mentioned below). All patties are made fresh to order, the shakes have a risk of giving you diabetes, and the options are endless. You can transform any burger to veggie, which is a giant bonus. The interior is comfortable, the staff are friendly and the music choices are flawless. There won't be one song that you don't know. Definitely worth a visit if you're in need of giant portions and an endless list of drinks (they also have hot drinks and many non-alcoholic options).

Ironically, we forgot to take photos from our favourite place. So you will have to go on faith with this one. (And my stolen photo from their site, credit to them!). Serrano Manchego is a little gem hiding on Leith Walk. We did the ultimate vacation crime and went here twice, but it was entirely worth it. Even if you just get coffee and chiros.

Things We Did:
As mentioned above, we didn't get to cross off most things on our list due to health complications, and as this post wasn't planned from the get go, photos weren't taken at every destination. But I can still list and link, and I hope at least one place catches your eye if you're planning a Scottish trip. Enjoy!

Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour (with Mercat Tours): Come on, you're in Edinburgh, you have to do at least one (or in our case, two) ghostly tour(s)! It's mandatory! The vaults was fun, if rather brief. We spent the first half of the tour wandering around the streets of Edinburgh with ole'horror tales of the past acting as our background music. Our tour guide was really good, though a little dramatic when attempting to make a story eerie which made it a tad bit more comical than scary. The vaults were exactly how you'd imagine and it was a really fun activity. If able to relive the experience, I might have changed our tour to a nighttime tour for the added effect of the nightly atmosphere. We then went on to do the...

City of the Dead Graveyard Tour (with City of the Dead): First I would like to say that our tour guide was really great during this, she was ever so friendly and easy to strike up a conversation with. The tour however was a little.. dreary. I would still recommend it as it was fun and a pleasant way of spending 90 minutes (there was even a little scare!), but for the most part, it was a woman cancelling out some stories you read of Edinburgh. I was waiting for her to say something sinful about Santa too. Would I do it again? No. But it wasn't a waste of money or time, so I'd push it at someone who is visiting. It has a great atmosphere and makes for a memorable evening. Have a glass of wine or beer beforehand and go with a light heart. You'll have a laugh.

I would like to mention that I booked both the above tours using GetYourGuide (Vaults/Graveyard), they were cheaper and had a 20% discount code. I strongly advise you do a quick Google search to see if you can find a discount code of your own and shop around.

National Museum of Scotland: It's huge. That's the first thing that comes to mind. The second being, it's free! The interior of the building in and of itself is breathtaking. There is an exhibition for everyone (we favoured the space and animal sections). I wholeheartedly think this is a must stop if you're visiting Edinburgh.

Heaven. That is all. If you know me at all, you'll know that I'm a Christmas fanatic. My partner was the sweetest man alive and had such patience as we looked for these magical places. If you only have time for one, I recommend sticking with Ye Olde Christmas Shoppe as it has more of a choice and the interior is like an elf has been exploded. Did I mention that they wish you a Merry Christmas when you walk in? Because they do! 

Expensive but a really awesome experience. We hardly have photos from here because they managed to suck you into the world prohibiting you from remembering to take your camera out (which is a good thing!). If you have kids, then this should be at the top of your list. I won't explain it eloquently enough, so I'll allow you to click on the link and look yourself. But so much fun!  A perfect end to our trip.

The Elephant House: This was a super quick stop but if you're a fan of Harry Potter or just writing in general, it's worth a visit. If you don't know, J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book here as she looked out at Edinburgh Castle. They sell merchandise and it's a quaint stop to grab a coffee. The only downside is that it tends to be really busy, so be prepared to wait in line for at least 10 minutes.  

So there you have it, our Edinburgh experience. It was a wonderful few days. Originally we planned to spend two nights in Glasgow, but we found there was more on the agenda for Edinburgh. We did however make a pit stop to the Science Centre in Glasgow and that was a lot of fun. 

I'll do more travel posts in future as I have an exciting trip planned for the end of September, until then I will do my darn best to get a better routine going with blog posts. The pas few months have been a tad dreary and I'm working on snapping myself out of that funk. 

I hope your week has gotten off to a great start! 

Until next time, 

- Anne x

1 comment

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