From the Travel Archives: Time Stopped in Edinburgh, and I Loved It
I suppose travel is a part of my DNA, and frankly -- I miss the thrill and excitement of planning a trip... and the anticipation as it draws near. We were planning another UK trip this fall, which is now on hold due to Covid. I started thumbing through travel posts from our old travel blog, and stumbled upon this one. I smiled as I read it, because my enthusiasm for Edinburgh jumped off the page! We've been back to Edinburgh since I wrote this, and we honestly loved it as much as the first time. And since we can't travel back to Scotland this fall, I thought I would share this memory here.
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It has been often stated that Scotland, and in particular Edinburgh, were a huge inspiration to author J.K. Rowling as she wrote her famed series, Harry Potter, and although it is common knowledge that she wrote much of the content in bonny old Scotland, I can’t say if the former is true. But what I do know is that the entirety of the Scottish countryside and Edinburgh that Trent and I saw last Christmas is absolutely, 100% one of the most magical places we’ve ever been. What we didn’t exactly realize when making plans was that Edinburgh really closes down on Christmas Day, and around the holidays there are quite a few closures in general in the UK that we weren’t certain of as far in advance as we had bought tickets and hotel rooms. And although this means we did miss some opportunities, I believe it only added to the charm, with less people bustling around, creating a more intimate experience.
We ran to JUST BARELY catch the train departing Warwick on Christmas Eve, looking every bit the part of the tourist. The cab driver was a tad behind, but as he pulled up we yelled that we were trying to catch the train (which was departing 8 minutes later), to which he responded, “GET IN NOW!” He shoved our luggage in the back and pulled the car away from the castle, with us shutting our doors as he was already halfway across the parking lot. A ride that should have taken us 6 minutes took us 3, and we ran up the stairs breathing loudly and pulling our suitcases behind us, arriving in such a state that everyone stared on the platform with one chap yelling, “No worries! You’ve got 30 seconds to spare!” God, I love the UK.
Arriving back in London, we picked up our rental car and drove to our hotel for the evening, and for the folks like me who haven’t driven on the WRONG SIDE OF THE CAR and the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD ;) it’s quite the experience, but hey, if I can do it, so can you. After a fairly uneventful drive through England, we see the very welcome sign stating that we’ve arrived in Scotland. Departing the interstate, we took a two lane road into the city, which wound through a truly lovely countryside - green grass, sheep, and charming old buildings aplenty, and as we drove into Edinburgh, I was convinced that I’d never met with so charming a place in my life.
This UNESCO world heritage site is divided between its Old Town and New Town, the first holding true to its medieval heritage and the latter a true tribute to Neoclassical and Georgian architecture, and if I were only granted a couple of words to describe the city, I’d say “magical,” or perhaps “dramatic” at the very least. As we arrived at our hotel, the Waldorf Astoria: The Caledonian, we were greeted by a welcoming valet, dressed in coat, tie, and Scottish tartan plaid pants. The lobby is absolutely gorgeous, and the staff friendly. We were upgraded to a larger room facing Edinburgh Castle, and we almost felt guilty leaving the room as it was so lovely, well almost. Honestly, our favorite part of the trip was simply strolling the streets of Old Town.
Y’all, we seriously stepped back in time! As we walked Old Town, we found ourselves wondering what life would have been like for the many people who have walked these streets before us, and we felt like, at any given moment, we’d see horses, carts, and merchants out to make their living for the day. Moving on to Edinburgh Castle we found that you have great, diverse views from each side of the fortress, affording the opportunity to see the city from above, and finding a good view in a new city is one of my favorite things to do! Another favorite thing to do while traveling? Eat! We stumbled into Whiski late one morning and had a marvelous brunch – beans, sausage, bread, hash browns, eggs, and more! And since we were on vacation (and I mean, it was basically noon), we felt it justified to sample some of its namesake. Trent tried the Royal Mile, while I took on the Monkey Mojito, both of which were yummy and satisfying to sip and watch the rain fall outside of the window. If you are a mojito fan, TRY THIS DRINK! The bartender wasn’t in any hurry to rush through the drinks and toss them on the table either. No, here they take pride in their creations and craft the most delicious cocktails. After filling our bellies, we wondered on through the shops, all offering Scottish trinkets and of course: Tartan everything. I luckily found Tartan souvenirs in my families’ patterns for my dad and loaded up on little happies for the rest of our parents. Old Town: a one stop shop for architecture, views of the city, history, food, and gifts. What more could you want?