My 2019 travels officially started in Edinburgh, Scotland. This city has been spoken of highly by my fellow travelers and bloggers so I was looking forward to seeing it with my own eyes.
Edinburgh is also dubbed by its natives as “Athens of the north”. That’s a very bold thing for them on paper. Although they have good reasons.
Aesthetically Edinburgh is a very pretty city – like Athens. The landscape is very natural and topsy-turvy in gradient. There are many places you can go and admire the whole city with a birds eye view. Examples being Calton Hill, Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castle. Some of its striking architecture and landscape is inspired by (as well as similar to) those you see in Greece and other European countries, namely Italy.
It also reflects how highly the people of Edinburgh think of themselves – a theme I’ll touch on more on another post.
But now let’s chit chat more about what was on my day 1 itinerary!
Formed after volcanic erupted and ice ages that covered the entirety of Edinburgh miliions of years ago, Calton Hill is up there with the city’s must-see attractions.
It’s breathtaking in many ways. You’re spoiled with the number of spots on the hill you can get an Instagram-worthy photo (as you could tell by the pics I couldn’t resist :p). Catch great glimpses of other famous landmarks such as Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle and Scott Monument.
Get to the biggest point of the hill and you’ll feel nature coming at you with the wind and coldness. Being up there was one of the few times where I didn’t mind it being too cold or too windy.
Best part? All free of charge. Biggest Win. It is physically taxing when walking up stairs to get to it but the scenery more than makes up for it, plus you get an easier walk when going back downhill.
After my walk to and from Calton Hill, the pointy and spaceship-like landmark Scott Monument, named after successful Scottish writer Walter Scott, awaited me on Princes Street.
Also known as the inventor of Scotland, Scott laid down the foundations for a lot of the elements of the Scottish culture you see today. A lot of the monument’s architecture resembles that of ones you associate with cathedrals and churches. It can be accessed for just £5 and again another place where you can get a great view of the city once you’ve climbed its narrow steps.
One of the busiest areas of Edinburgh New Town is Princes St. It’s almost like the Marble Arch or Bond St of Edinburgh although quieter in comparison. At Princes Street you have your metropolitan high street stores like Topshop, River Island, Primark, H&M, Debenhams. Plenty of bars and restaurants to chill at so no shortage of things to do there either.
P.S. Make sure you visit Rose Street nearby
Camera Obscura & The World Of Illusions
This was recommended by (@Pennies2Pounds). Shoutout to them. My experience atCamera Obscura was super trippy and freaky at times, but at the same time tons of fun and engaging
There’s loads of images and paintings that’s sure to challenge your eyes and push you to look at them in different perspectives. Sometimes even make you see things that arent there. Basically they make your eyes less trustworthy lol.
Out of all the activities available on the 6 accessible floors, the Vortex Tunnel messed me up the most. When I was walking through I literally thought I was upside down. If you suffer from motion sickness I do advise you not to do the vortex tunnel. The mirror maze is worth a try too!
Get to the rooftop on the 6th floor and you have a glorious view of both the Edinburgh Old and New town to clear your head from those illusions.
The cost for standard admission is £16. There’s also a Camera Obscura show that runs daily, and it cost extra to get entry into it but if you pay the £16 for standard admission and you’ve missed all the shows on that particular day you’ll get a free readmission to see the show AND the museum itself the following day. Opportunity to go see it all again and get more than for money’s value if you enjoyed the whole experience.
I found myself passing by Victoria Street countless of times as I had to get to my hostel going through there. If you’re a big Harry Potter fan like myself or want a cool pic for the gram then Victoria St is where it’s at. The multi-coloured set of buildings are very striking and pretty you cant miss them. Quite a few Harry Potter shops such as The Boy Wizard and Museum Of Content around and some stores that manufacture and sell authentic kilts. Recommend passing through at least once. It’s very conveniently placed between Grassmarket, which you can get to by descending down the street, and Royal Mile, which you reach via walking the stairs that’s located far right in the first pic.
The Haggis Box was where I had my first experience with Haggis, Scotland’s national food. I wanted to get stuck into the culture as soon as I go out and Haggis was the first impression needed. It was really delicious. I felt the authenticity of the taste and smell and thought “this is surely Haggis” It was much needed some fuel for the climb up to Calton Hill too, even though I wasn’t quite hungry at the time.
The sauces they’ve got with the meat and mashed potato are creative: red wine sauce and whisky gravy. Unfortunately for alcoholics you can’t taste the alcohol as it burns whilst it’s been boiled at high temperature.
Shoutout to Laura, the caterer who was really kind and approchable and even did my haggis in a box on the cheap too. Worth a visit if you’re around the Grassmarket area.
The journey to Edinburgh from London was as smooth as I could ask off. From Security and bag checks, to take off and landing, everything went according to plan. Shoutout to Stansted Airport RyanAir where it’s due. In terms of inbound journeys Ryanair on point but the return flights are still a mess (Stockholm and Dublin are big examples)
I managed to get a tram courtesy of tramlink. Open return ticket of £8.50 and only took 30 mins to get into town. Not bad at all! Plus free wi-fi, which is a big theme for public transport in other UK cities. Generally I’ve enjoyed riding on public transport in the cities I’ve visited in UK and Ireland. I just feel at ease and the seats are always almost luxury-like and well-maintained.
As for transport within Edinburgh myself I didn’t feel the need to travel to somewhere by any public transport. All the attractions were walking distance from each other and the hostel too so it was a testament to how convenient Edinburgh is.
That’s all for day 1. Hope you lot enjoyed it! An accommodation review on my stay Kick Ass hostel will be done in a separate post. Seeing there’s a lot to discuss about the time spent there.
There’s plenty more to come for my day 2 and 3 posts this week so stay tuned! Let me know your thoughts on Edinburgh in the comments below.
Johnny | Johnny’s Traventures