30 August 2014

Expats Takeover: A Quick Guide to Edinburgh

Hello readers! I am right in the mix of that little move to London - you know, the whole 'expat blogger' thing? Well, I've decided to finally give truth to the title, and am on my way over.
While I am currently figuring out life across the world, I've got a few of my favorite bloggers stepping in for me to keep this page up and running - enjoy! - Caity

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Hi everyone! I’m Camila, I’m a writer/blogger who shares her stories over at The Things I am Crazy For
.  I write about my life as an expat in Scotland, my different travels and any other life related things that inspire me. 

Today, however, I’m so happy to be taking over Caity’s blog as she’s settling into her new home!
I love Caity’s guides to London, so I thought I would be inspired by her and make a guide to Edinburgh for anyone interested in travelling there. 
I know Caity has posted about Scotland before, but I thought that as an expat in Scotland I could bring an interesting insight. 
Of course, I’m not a local so if you see anything to add, feel free to share! I’m sure I won’t be the only one appreciating the new ideas and recommendations!

  quick guide edinburgh

WHERE TO STAY
I would definitely recommend staying in a central location when you visit Edinburgh. Most of the attractions and historic sites are located in the heart of the city and so you’d be missing a big part of it by staying further out of the town centre!
The one time I stayed in Edinburgh (I was based just across the Firth, in St Andrews), I stayed in a hotel near the Haymarket train station. 
It was great and I highly recommend the area because it was very quiet and yet within 15-minute walk from the centre. It's also right by the main Airlink route, if you're coming from the airport!

 
WHERE TO EAT
I have to be totally honest with you that every time I head to Edinburgh I try to satiate my sushi cravings (which St Andrews lacks immensely). I once tried 3 different sushi restaurants in less than a month. 
So if you are looking for sushi recommendation, I’m your girl! 
 Apart from that, there are cafes, pubs and restaurants everywhere in Edinburgh and the choice really is yours! 
 For breakfast, I recommend stopping in any of the cafes on the Royal Mile or Cockburn Street (I know it’s an unfortunate name). When I’m on the go (and on a budget), I usually stop at Tesco to grab a chocolate croissant from their bakery – delicious and cheap! Even better yet, grab free breakfast at your hotel/hostel! 
 For lunch and dinner, your best option is probably a pub. You can’t go to Scotland without experiencing the pub culture! They are everywhere so you won’t be on the lookout for long. 
Grassmarket is an especially cool place to go grab a bite at one of the pubs surrounding this cute cobbled square. 
You can also stop by The Elephant House for a nice warm lunch. If you’re a massive Harry Potter nerd like me, you’ll be in heaven! 
If you’re in need of a dessert/treat, stop by Bibi’s Bakery! They have the best cupcakes in town!  
For a fancy experience you can head over to The Castle Terrace, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant and is, as the name states, right near the castle.

 
WHAT TO SEE
The best way to get a quick view of Edinburgh is to take a tour! 
The first time I visited, I was with a friend and we both decided on the Sandemans New Edinburgh Free Tour. It was definitely worth it! It’s a two-hour walking tour and it was so much fun! 
When my mother came to visit with a friend, they took a bus tour (hop on/hop off), which went around the whole city and gave them a great first look. It also passed by all the interesting sites so they could stop along the way. 
 Here are (only a few of) the must-sees of the city: 
 - Edinburgh Castle stands atop a hill that overlooks the entire town. Not only does it give a great view over the city, but you can also use it to orient yourself around the city by looking up the mountain and spotting the castle. It is absolutely gorgeous and definitely worth a visit! Are you intrigued by the stone of destiny? You might catch a glimpse of it there!
Palace of Holyroodhouse (& Queen’s Gallery) stands at the other end of the Royal Mile and it is the royal family's home when they come into town. I never visited the palace myself, but went into the Queen's Gallery and it was a remarkable visit! We also got a glimpse of the palace and it was gorgeous!
- The Royal Mile is the street that connects the Edinburgh Castle and the Holyrood Palace. It is also the street with the most character I've probably seen in my life. You will see many museums, tartan shops, bagpipers, and historic sites along the walk down from the Castle toward the Palace. It's a sight to behold! 
If you're in need of some luck, you might want to stop along the way to rub the toe of the David Humes statue or spit on the Heart of Midlothian!
Princes Street is the high street of Edinburgh. If you need to do any shopping, it's the place to do so! In a way it is also the separation between the Old Town and the New Town. You can also access the Princes Street Gardens from there. It's one of the many green spaces of Edinburgh, where many to go lounge in the sunny summer days, catch some mulled wine at the Christmas market and dance the night away on Hogmanay!
Scott Monument is perhaps the second site, right after the castle, that you should definitely visit/see while in Edinburgh! Did you know it's the largest monument erected to a writer in the world? The gothic structure commemorates Sir Walter Scott, an Edinburgh-born writer, and was inaugurated in the 19th century. It's 60 meters high - 287 steps to walk up to be accurate - so be warned before starting your climb!



OTHER TIPS?
Edinburgh is an amazing city full of amazing things to see and experience. While I don't have time to discuss them all, here are a few things you might look forward to experiencing when visiting Edinburgh.
Attend a summer festival: The month of August is very busy in Edinburgh because there are countless festivals happening at the same time. Whether you want to head to the Foodies festival, witness the Military Tattoo or catch a glimpse of your favourite author at the International Book Festival, the city is in full effervescence all month long. 
Go to a football or rugby match : While their teams haven't been doing the best in recent years, I hear the atmosphere is extraordinary in the stadiums. I know my boyfriend (a Scot himself) can't wait to bring me to witness his favourite clubs in action, and I know that what I look forward to the most is having a crowd of excited Scots singing Loch Lomond at the top of their lungs! 
Climb Arthur’s Seat: Could you believe I've never done the hike up Arthur's Seat? The old volcano is about 250m high and apparently gives a splendid view over the city. It will be at the top of my list for next time I'm there!
All of the museums: Edinburgh has so many amazing museums and did you know that most (I'm always afraid to say 'all') museums are free in the UK? So you should definitely go out there and take advantage of that! 
 That's it for today! 
Hope that you will find this useful and, again, if you think I forgot something important, please don't hesitate to let me know! 
I'm looking to relocate to Edinburgh in the coming weeks and am always looking for new recommendations and activities to try out! 
Thank you, Caity, for having me over today!xx

 
Camila @ The Things I Am Crazy For


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