If you follow on me on Instagram, you will have noticed we recently had a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, for our second wedding anniversary (well, that was the excuse anyway). You may have guessed by the title of this post, but just to make myself completely clear: I LOVE Edinburgh. I mean, I really LOVE Edinburgh.
We had heard so much about the wonderful Edinburgh Christmas markets that we made it our mission to go – and we weren’t disappointed. Never ones to miss an opportunity, we made what could have been an overnight stay into a long weekend break and spent our four days there walking the length and breadth of the city… after our four hour nap upon arrival.
We hadn’t seen each other long enough since our trip to Paris to sit down and book accommodation, so we booked a fantastic Aparthotel (I didn’t know this was a ‘thing’… FYI, they’re serviced apartments) on the way to the airport at 7am. Although I would not recommend booking quite so late, it worked out very well for us and we had a small kitchen and eating area, a king size bed and a massive shower in our apartment- 20 minutes walk from everywhere! Being in the Fountain Bridge area of the city, Edinburgh’s famous aroma greeted us as we neared the street our apartment was on – the warm smell of hops crept around the streets, and in a really strange way (because to be frank about it, it kind of smells like warm dog food), I liked it.
As the Christmas markets were the reason we went to Edinburgh we visited a few times (basically, if I got hungry, we trotted off to the markets for burgers, crepes, bratwurst – all the good stuff). We meandered through the stalls and found the secret word in the maze of ‘Santaland’, but we soon found ourselves wandering away from the markets and into tiny, crooked streets leading to cobbled roads and antique buildings. Dark as it was, before we knew it we’d come to the castle gates and were excited to explore the city lit up before us in daylight.
I’m a very nostalgic person, and although we’d decided only to do free things in the city (which there is a lot of), I couldn’t resist a day in the castle learning about it’s history and everything it had seen. Every building told part of the castle’s long and colourful history dating as far backs as the 1100s. Between the castle and the Royal Mile, my imagination ran wild with the possible stories of the people who had stood on the same cobbles hundreds of years before.
What really struck us was how much the locals knew about Edinburgh’s history, and if they didn’t know they had a book or resources to access the information we asked for at hand. They were so happy to chat and share what they knew- everyone took true pride in their city, their history and their culture.
Curious about our own history I asked about the ‘Bells of the Borders’, as Granda had called us that when we mentioned Scotland… lower class bell ringers, who were so poor they didn’t have a clan motto, crest or their own tartan for a long time, because they weren’t important enough to need it. The Corbetts couldn’t be a story farther from the poor Bells- a sept of the mighty highland Ross clan they were pretty much nobility and had estates and a castle. A flipping castle. Paddy now insists that I married up.
Anyway, leaving that discussion for another day… we took a different direction the next morning and went to the Grassmarket which leads round to Greyfriar’s Bobby. Somehow we managed to walk from there to Duddingston Loch, half way up Arthur’s Seat and all the way around to Holyrood Palace. Again, we hadn’t planned a visit but I couldn’t resist – I mostly just wanted to see how the Queen had the place decorated for Christmas. (In all fairness, it was nothing fancier than what I’ve seen in M&S recently.)
Just like Edinburgh Castle at the opposite end of the Royal Mile, the palace was filled with tales of days long since past (and the Queen’s crockery, they know how to do a decent dinner setting) – everything from Queen Victoria’s tapestries to locks of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’s hair. It’s hard to believe some of the 400 year old items have been around for so long- the evidence of true craftsmanship. Oh, how we have lost so many skills by allowing machines to make everything for us.
We decided our ‘anniversary dinner’ should be a truly authentic Scottish meal, so we walked back to the Grassmarket to find the ‘real thing’. Where better to go than the (potentially) oldest pub in Edinburgh – The White Hart Inn? I have to be completely honest… it smells a bit… actually, it has a fairly potent stench. I don’t frequent pubs often but I can guess that some of it is just spilt booze, and given that parts of the building have been standing since 1516, you can forgive it for absorbing a few odours over the years. We ticked our authentic Scottish food box with ‘Haggis, Neeps and Tatties’. It was surprisingly good… but I think I still prefer Scottish smoked salmon.
Unlike our recent trip to Paris (which you can read about here), we found we didn’t really want to go home. There was so much of the city we hadn’t yet seen and so many people we hadn’t yet spoken to. It’s a city where the past and present live in perfect harmony, and each street and doorway seems to tell it’s part of the story of what happened along the way. If you’ve never been to Edinburgh, do yourself the favour and book a trip… and bring your thermals. We’ll be back just as soon as we can manage it!