Kat’s Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Pt 2




See Part 1 here.  And also, a version of this was published early without the links. My apologies.



Extra fun stuff

Take the ‘closes’ Edinburgh is full of small windy staircases and pathways we call ‘closes’ to get between areas. Take a few off the Royal Mile and get lost.  They also do free ghost tours and there is a special one, “Mary King’s Close”, set up as an attraction (walking tour under Edinburgh).
Ceilidh! A Scottish traditional dance/folk dancing, they’re quite regularly held if you do some Googling.  NB: Pronounced ‘kay-lee’
Deep Fried Mars Bar We’re kinda famous for this ridiculous treat.  My favourite place to try it is the Clam Shell fish and chip shop on the Royal Mile. Worth trying once.
Edinburgh Zoo We have pandas!  To get to the Zoo take the no. 26 or no. 31 buses from Princes St.




Panda and Sons A ‘hidden’ bar on Queen Street.
Eteaket Excellent teas and cakes, etc, off George Street.
Illegal Jack’s One of my favourite restaurants ever in Edinburgh – cheap, no frills Tex-Mex. Good food made by good people. This is up the road a bit further from central town but definitely walkable from Greyfriar’s Bobby, etc.
Chaophraya Excellent Thai restaurant on the top of a building on Castle St, you can get good views of the Castle at night if you ask for a good viewing table! Bookable online.
Spoon Good wee eatery by the Festival Theatre.
Blackbird In Tollcross (ask a local, not too far a walk up Lothian Road until it splits, take the right fork) – good food and cocktails.
Tuk Tuk Indian ‘tapas’ just up from Blackbird in Tollcross.
The Banshee Labyrinth A bar with a series of small “caves” you can sit and drink in.
Jekyll & Hyde* Hanover St – has good cheap cocktails.
Bar Soba* Great wee cheap Asian eatery.
The Dogs* Bit more upmarket and super tasty.
Montpeliers Bruntsfield – excellent brunch.
Loudons Fountainbridge – excellent brunch.
Arcade Bar, Haggis & Whisky House On Cockburn (Co-burn) street off the Royal Mile. Whiskies and haggis, which is worth trying. Vege haggis is delicious too.
The Last Drop Pub on the Grassmarket, at the site of Edinburgh’s last hanging. Scottish dishes.

*All next door to each other


Up next:  a bit further afield!  And later in the year, I’ll post about Edinburgh at Christmas.





Kat’s Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Pt 1


I get asked fairly regularly to recommend itineraries or places to see when visiting Scotland, so I thought I’d put up a few posts with my recommendations, starting with Edinburgh itself. So! Without further ado..

A wee disclaimer: This is not a massive list because I usually write these for people who are here for a really short time! An itinerary for longer trips will come later.




Edinburgh is a compact city.  Most of it is very walkable, but there is also an excellent bus and tram system.  I’d recommend purchasing a day ticket if you are going to get lots of buses, but it’s actually not necessary if you’re not venturing too far out and have a car for the rest of your visit to Scotland.



Transport from the airport:

I recommend the tram, especially if you are staying centrally.  They run every 8-12 minutes and it takes about 35 minutes to get into the city.  It’s £5 one way, £8 return and there are machines so you can use a card, etc.  Alternatively, if you are staying in Corstorphine, Murrayfield, etc, then take the Airport Bus (#100, bright blue and available right outside arrivals).



Places to stay:

Central hotels, with varying prices-

Apex Hotel (Chain, ****) – http://www.apexhotels.co.uk/en/hotels/edinburgh/

The Rutland (Boutique) – http://www.therutlandhotel.com/

Ibis South Bridge (Chain, ***) – http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-8484-ibis-edinburgh-centre-south-bridge/index.shtml

The Sheraton (Chain, ****, rooftop pool!) – http://www.sheratonedinburgh.co.uk/


And there are also budget spots-

Hostelworld is your best bet – http://www.hostelworld.com/hostels/Edinburgh

Also there are quite a few places in the Lochside area – Ibis Budget, Premier Inn.. which seems a bit far out on a map but is on the tram route so super easy (and quiet, cause it’s near business parks!)

There’s also an Easyhotel on Princes St.


It’s super quick to get into Edinburgh on a bus, if central prices put you off and you can find a good deal a bit further out.  We have great B&Bs!  Look in the Roseburn, Murrayfield, Corstorphine areas.



To Do/Itinerary ideas:

New Town

Princes St/George St The majority of our shopping is on or near Princes St and is known as Edinburgh’s ‘high street’ (in the UK this is what you’d call the main street for shopping etc – don’t confused with the actual High Street, that’s the Royal Mile.. sorry!). George St is one block up and a bit more upmarket.
Calton Hill At the far end of Princes St you’ll reach St. James Shopping Centre on your left, cross over to the next corner, pass a Howie’s restaurant and an Apex hotel. Keep going towards the monuments you can see up ahead.  Take the staircase, then turn right and walk up the hill.  This is a free view out over Edinburgh/the craigs. Worth the short hike!
Scott Monument/Princes St Gardens The Scott Monument is the dark gothic rocket-ship-looking thing on Princes St. You can go up for a view of Edinburgh for about £4. Small spiral staircases (just a warning in case you’re claustrophobic).  The gardens are also nice for a wander/a good view from below the Castle.
Rose Street In between Princes St and George St there is a pedestrianised street with small restaurants and bars.



Royal Mile/Old Town

Walk along Princes St past the train station until you reach the Balmoral Hotel. Turn right and walk up South Bridge to the “Royal Mile”.

Edinburgh Castle A must. A bit steep at £16 a person, but also has excellent views out over Edinburgh.
Tartan Weaving Mill Free and basic, a good way to see tartan being made, research tartans, try on tartans and get a “ye olde” style photo, buy tourist ‘tat’.
The Scotch Whisky Experience A fun museum about whisky. And you get tasters, etc.
Grassmarket/nearby Take George IV bridge and turn right onto Victoria St (my favourite street in Edinburgh), then at the bottom you’ll be on the Grassmarket. Pubs galore.  There is also a great vintage/thrift shop called Armstrong’s that is worth visiting.
Holyrood Palace/Holyrood Park/Arthur’s Seat At the bottom of the Royal Mile is Holyrood Palace, where the Queen stays when she is in Edinburgh. You can book a tour.  It is also at the entrance to the Holyrood Park (very pretty) and Arthur’s Seat (the large hill in the park, which is actually an extinct volcano! So is the Castle hill!).  Not too tough a climb and a great view.


That’s covering some of the more touristy stuff.  My next post will cover a few other interesting spots and venture out of Edinburgh!






Around here lately



It’s been busy yet chilled lately. It’s been a time of small pleasures.



The weather has been fantastic.  A few weeks ago I bought us this ridiculous tiny but effective BBQ for the garden at Tesco for £20 (they’re now even cheaper). It was the colour that attracted me, of course, but it’s great for these super long, warm days we’ve been having.



I’ve had quite a few afternoons outside gathering freckles on my arms and shoulders, and giving my legs some sun. It’s one of the perks of living up here and not having that pesky ozone hole, but of course I’m still being sun-careful.



The sun is dipping down and giving its last wink at about 11pm now, so you forget what time it is all the time, and the sun is only just gathering its heat when you leave work, which is great. It does feel like summer.



I also took my first tram ride last Thursday!  It was super exciting in that geeky way. It’s not really that handy to us or to anywhere I usually go, but I can get into central town from work really easily if I want to, and I thought when I went to get my hair cut, I’d take it. It was good fun.



And speaking of the haircut, here it is.  I wanted to lose some length and weight for summer and just have hair that I can style instead of just piling up in a bun. It has backfired a bit in terms of keeping me cooler, because it’s so thick still and now it sits just on my neck, which isn’t ideal! But I still really like it and am glad I lost the length.  It’ll grow so fast that by the wedding it’ll be long again…



Oh and I went to Glasgow on Saturday and met Carine and had Wagamama then went to The Pierces – I love them so much, it was really exciting to get to go and see them live (they were incredible), and it’s always kinda fun going across to Glasgow. It’s like going between Wellington and Auckland, but in 45-60 minutes. Crazy.

And in other news, we’ve started a wee craft project – we finally bought some dining chairs but they’re a bit dated so we’re sanding and painting them. Photos will be shared once they’re done!  I also have some photos from New Zealand to post…





20 Things I Love About Scotland



1. The national flower is a thistle. It’s a weed, people. But like the Scots, it’s pretty and soft yet prickly and unique all at once.

2. The slang. “No danger” is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “no way”. Babies are bairns and weans, everything has “proper” or “pure” before it, and I am a lass, a hen, a quine (my current favourite).

3. Daffodils grow wild in spring, snow drops appear before the frost is gone, the blossoms are bright pink and fluffy.

4. Edinburgh is full of little nooks and crannies and side-streets of wonders, and I haven’t really discovered so much of it yet.

5. Every man over 60 with a cheeky smile and crinkly eyes reminds me of my grandfather.

6. It’s perfectly acceptable to wear a kilt to any special (or not so special, there are “casual kilts”) occasion.

7. When you’re sick you drink whisky with green ginger wine and float around on the fumes.

8. The acoustic music scene is supportive and active and somewhat glorious, and I have played many a venue, with more to come.

9. No one misunderstands or asks me to repeat my surname.

10. Any day over 20 degrees is celebrated and lauded as a “heatwave”, and we all eat icecream and throw our summer shorts on.

11. Because of the massive amount of importing, avocados are available and ripe all year around.

12. Primark, H&M, ASOS and Amazon UK.

13. Edinburgh’s Liberal Jewish Community has a lovely mix of personalities and nationalities and have welcomed me with an amazing warmth of spirit.

14. We love our Unlimited movie cards, which we abuse to the highest degree, and see a bunch of films that aren’t really worthy of our attendance. And Cineworld has Ben & Jerry’s.

15. I finally understand 99% of accents (they vary!) so am much happier answering the phone.

16. It looks a lot like home. Scotland is incredibly green, with beautiful mountain ranges, rivers and has large variety in its weather. Edinburgh being hilly is also somewhat comforting, coming from a hilly part of the world!

17. And yes that weather. I do kinda love it when the haar settles in and you can barely see the end of the street, or the canal freezes over, or the wind stops just for one sunny day, and you think “Gosh, this is alright.”

18. Despite not knowing anyone who actually speaks it (apart from primary teacher friends who know colours and songs), I think Gaelic is a fascinating language that sounds like you have the video on backwards. I imagine I’ll learn a few bits here and there. There is also a channel of all-Gaelic programming, BBC Alba, which occasionally plays SPL football games, so we watch it and I get confused thinking “I should be understanding this, because the video makes sense, but..”

19. It used to bother me that no one had a house here (well apart from D’s mother) and all lived in tenement buildings with rowdy neighbours, but now we’re on the ground floor with our own outdoor space in a quiet building, it’s kinda nice. I still call it “the house” (or “Featherhall”!) but that’s because I’ve never been fond of the term “flat”, and it really is a nice space. Just big enough for us to try and keep clean 80% of the time.

20. My Scotsman. He is surely the best thing to come out of Edinburgh since 1983.


PS. Weekly photo post to come when I can edit it. Photo placements are tricky from a phone app!



Right now, Dave is watching a football game streaming on his PC, while chopping carrots, potatoes and swede for the casserole, and swearing like a sailor at the screen. I guess we’re not winning anymore.

I’m on the bed, with the laptop on a small side table, flicking between internet windows and Buffy.
(Must be Sunday).
For the most part, settling in to life here has been relatively simple. I must admit that I still struggle at times with the pure distance that I am from home, and the small amount of contact I have with my loved ones. Add that to the infuriating internet updates that come in the wrong timezone, so disappear off of my current Facebook homepage, or the emails that I never seem to be able to reply to as fast as I’d like.
(I am also typing this while I watch Dave chop without looking which makes me slightly nervous.)
In good news, however, I did just have Chris to stay. I took some time off work and went down to London, and surprisingly, still remembered where everything is, so was able to be a little bit of a tour guide for him. Then I dragged him up here on a cheap orange plane to Edinburgh, where miraculously, the sun came out and no one tried to stab him. We saw the castle for free, went dancing on a Tuesday night ’til 2am, and ate at the local greasy spoon, where he tried black pudding for the first time.
He also seemed to enjoy the vegetarian haggis we served up. Pity it was only a 3 day visit, but maybe more next time.
Next month I’ll have 2 visitors, almost back-to-back, and while I can’t really take the time off of work to show them around like I could Chris, it’ll be good to have people with me again. I was starting to feel a little bit like an island, with only one tree for fruit, but soon it’s gonna be a whole cocktail.
And winter is coming! winter here means actual holly on the Christmas table, and possibly snow next year, and coats and scarves and gloves and ears with flaps. I might get to go sledding.
Music, vlogs, posts, love to come. It’s been far too long and not expressing myself is starting to make me twitchy.
I hope you are well. Send postcards.