I have something to tell you …
All is not as it seems …
I have lied and deceived …
These were the opening 3 lines of the birthday card I gave my girlfriend on her 30th birthday. At first glance it probably looks like a recipe for disaster, or at least the ending of the relationship with said girlfriend, but the rest of the card went on to explain that I hadn’t been naughty, just sneaky. I had given her theatre tickets for her birthday and she seemed fairly pleased with them, but these were in fact fakes, I’d photoshoped some old tickets to look like new ones, and in reality what I was really doing was taking her to Edinburgh.
My dad of ‘dad cabs’ picked us up the next morning with Esther still none the wiser as to where we were going. I didn’t even tell her as we checked in. Only once we were on the way to the gate did I let slip. At this point I was in the good books.
A quick hour flight and we touched down in Edinburgh, and within another 30 mins a shuttle bus had taken us to the heart of the city. Our hostel, Budget Backpacker was a short (uphill) walk away, but it was nicely situated in the old town just off of Grassmarket! We strolled taking in some of the sights and basking in the Feb sunshine.
We dumped our bags in our fairly overpriced double room and headed out for something to eat. 6 drinks later and half cut we were still on the lookout for somewhere to eat, but had had a very jolly evening. In the end we settled for a Mexican restaurant just around the corner from our Hostel. It was amazing, great service and very reasonably priced, I just wish I could remember the name of it.
The next day we decided to take in the hostels own walking tour. Our guide was a young Australian girl who was now living in the city her family originated from. She took us first to Grey Friars church, showing us the cages put over graves to stop grave robbers. Then she showed us some of the plaques and tombstones which influenced the Harry Potter series. A lot of the Harry Potter material was written in the Elephant Café, which was our next stop and just around the corner from Greyfriars. We didn’t go in at this point, but we would soon return. Next we were taken down the royal mile and told all manner of stories about the various buildings. For example one building has another building inside it. Bill Gates rented the building back in the 90’s (I think) and wanted to change its exterior, however he was not allowed to do so as the building was listed. Instead we just stripped all of the inside of the building leaving only the exterior, and then built a smaller more modern building inside.
Our guide took us across the North Bridge and through Princes Street Gardens before we made our way back to the hostel via a large pot of tea and a huge slab of cake at the elephant cafe. A great tour, just a shame the rain was relentless throughout.
That evening we went for a cheap meal and a few drinks in Grassmarket once more. We didn’t go made, we just enjoyed the night, although the dj playing next to where we were sitting didn’t look like he was enjoying himself at all, in fact he looked borderline suicidal. Still, he couldn’t dampen our fantastic time in Scotland … what could dampen it was my girlfriend discovering she’d lost her phone, and the two of us missing the last train back to Hillingdon from Kings Cross. Ah well, cant win them all, and we by some manner of magic managed to recover Esther’s phone. Lucky girl!
- Drinking in Grassmarket is expensive, take advantage of the backpacker discount cards around (below).
- The Mexican restaurant on W Bow/Victoria St – go there!
- Royal Mile
- Elephant House Café – for a nice cup of tea and Harry Potter interests