Hello, friends! I’m coming at ya right at noon this lovely Saturday, with a brand new travel diary. Woo-hoo! First of all, a quick life update: I’ve been gone for a while because, last week, I’ve spent 12+ hours each day at my high school preparing for the upcoming school year. I mentioned this in my 5 ingredient cookie recipe a couple days ago (P.S. I’m so so sorry that post was so short!), which is why I’ve been so inactive lately. I’m dreading the next few weeks to come, but at the same time super duper excited for BTS season!
I mentioned in my London travel guide that, right after spending the last day there, we hopped on a train and traveled up north, to Scotland! I’m currently looking back at the countless photos and all the memories made during that trip, and seriously! The post-UK withdrawals are real. Although we only spent 2 full days there, we managed to squeeze a good amount of fun excursions into the time we had (hint: castles, Mexican food, and a whole lot of fun). So here’s part 2 of my summer travels for y’all. Enjoy!
1. L’Escargot Bleu: I haven’t really tried as much French food so far in my life as I’ve liked, so dinner at L’escargot Bleu was a must for me when we arrived in Edinburgh. I was genuinely surprised by how good the food tasted! We ordered their “Les escargots en gratin,” grilled snails, as an appetizer (which sounds exotic and weird but tasted phenomenal), along with some sourdough bread. For my main entreé, I had the seared scallops with risotto and parmesan (which for some reason isn’t on their online menu). 10/10 recommend!
2. Bread Street Brasserie: We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, located right smack dab in the middle of the main Edinburgh City Centre (more on that in the “where we stayed” section). Lucky for us, the hotel had it’s own restaurant that served some pretty decent continental breakfast. That way, we didn’t have to go out and search for a separate place to eat in the morning. I had a nice, big bowl of muesli with soy milk, and various toppings like granola, nuts and peanut butter. The next day I ordered their 2 egg omelette with mushrooms and peppers.
3. Taco Mazama: This Mexican restaurant just serves your average Tex-Mex/street food style food (burrito bowls, tacos, etc.). After visiting the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Botanic Gardens, I was completely exhausted and just wanted something quick to eat. I even slept on the Uber ride back, which was kind of awkward, but honestly I was just too tired to care. They had some vegetarian options, so I ordered the small burrito bowl with veggie chili and pico.
4. Bar Burrito: Another quick, grab-and-go Mexican eatery (are you seeing the pattern of my cravings here? lol). I was randomly craving nachos on our last day in in the city, so I obviously had to stop at yet another Mexican restaurant. I got the nachos with vegetarian filling, and all yo’ basic toppings (guac, salsa, etc.).
What we did
After taking a 4 hour train from London all the way up north to Edinburgh, we were all pretty exhausted (and I was stuffed after eating two bowls of mac n’ cheese). We checked into our hotel, and decided to walk around the city. As a tourist, just walking around a place with so much character and history was an amazing experience itself. Just look at those buildings! I seriously felt like I was strolling back in time, to an era of stone buildings and gothic architecture.
On the morning of our second day in Scotland, we finished breakfast and made our way to the Edinburgh Castle. Again, much like all of the buildings in the city, the castle is full of character and I’m guessing it still looks much like it did multiple centuries back. It sits on the Castle Rock, a high point in the city, and you practically see all of Edinburgh from the top!
After leaving the Edinburgh Castle, we took an Uber out to the Royal Botanic Garden, home to the most diverse collection of plant species in the world! I took probably a zillion pictures of all the beautiful/funky plants we saw, but here are a couple of my favorites.
Our first stop on our full-day Scotland tour: the Dunkeld cathedral (& some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen in my life)
Next stop: Blair castle. I’m telling y’all, this is basically me in a castle. I absolutely fell in love with the white walls and acres and acres of greenery. As we explored even further, we stumbled upon a field of grazing deer, a giant garden, and even a guy in a kilt playing a bagpipe!
Finally, we stopped for a quick little hike in the woods. So much of Scotland is covered in miles of natural beauty, not much civilization, and cute little towns and businesses. Even though the waterfall we stopped at wasn’t massive or Niagara-Falls-esque, the earthy landscape and the gentle sound of flowing water made it that much more special.
And the very next day, we hopped on a 6:00 AM train back to London, where we flew back home to Texas!
Where we stayed
We stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, which, like I mentioned above, is located where most of the shops and restaurants are located! As well as being a couple minutes’ walk from the Edinburgh Castle, you can book tours and learn about things that go around in the city. The staff is super friendly, and will help you make the most out of your stay in Edinburgh. They helped us book our full day tour outside of the city by making a simple phone call. Plus, the views of the Edinburgh Castle are spectacular!
Y’all are probably rolling your eyes, thinking, only three tips?? Way to take laziness to a whole new level, Ashley. But wait! I have an explanation! Edinburgh is one of the smallest “big cities” I’ve ever been to, in comparison to places like LA, London and Beijing. Most of the time, you’ll see most locals wandering around, going about their daily lives. You can spot tourists, cameras clicking and phones at the ready, buying souvenirs to take home. There’s really not too much you need to know to have a great time there!
- Cram as much as you can in each day. In general, most of the excursions take up 2-4 hours, depending on how much of each place you actually explore. I wouldn’t take my time and spend an entire day at one place, unless you’re staying for a while. We spent only a morning at the Edinburgh castle and the afternoon at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
- City bus passes are optional! In contrast to Oyster cards in London, if you are only staying for a few days, it’s really unnecessary to purchase a bus pass if you aren’t going to be riding public transportation that often. Most of the time, we walked, and only took an Uber about twice in our entire stay. Definitely walk as much as possible! There is so much to see in Edinburgh, and you’ll miss a good chunk of the Edinburgh experience by taking a car everywhere you go.
- High n’ low: Most of Edinburgh sits on hills and “bumpy” terrain, so the roads are definitely very steep. Because of this, you’ll definitely be getting a good workout just from walking from place to place! If you go up to a high point, like a nice hike up to Arthur’s Seat, you’ll be able to see the whole city beneath you.
I can’t believe back to school is quickly approaching! As I’m wrapping up my summer travels, I honestly can’t wrap my mind around the fact that summer’s basically over. I’m grateful for all the memories, and back to school YouTube videos to watch, but I miss it so much. I can’t wait to go back!
Until next time…