Our Escape to Edinburgh!

Our escape to Edinburgh came after a long lockdown in the UK, this was first adventure anywhere since early March and it felt fantastic to have the freedom. These few days away in the Scottish capital made us cherish every moment. We had took travel for granted up until now and are we truly thankful for what we have seen. 

We drove up to Scotland from Newcastle and it was a smooth drive in just over 2 hours. With little traffic, which for a typical Friday is unknown. Arriving in Edinburgh early afternoon, parking our Jimny in the NCP car park on Castle Terrace and checking into the Doubletree Hilton Edinburgh City Centre, located on Bread Street overlooking Edinburgh Castle and a short walk from the famous Grassmarket. We couldn’t have picked a more central spot for our stay! Check in was quick and the service was attentive and friendly, putting you instantly at ease. We received our room key and headed for the lifts, wearing our masks whilst within the public areas of the hotel. As we reached our room, we saw the Hilton clean stay seal attached to the door. Assuring us our room was throughly cleaned and once broken by our entry only we would have access to it, easing worries people may have staying in this hotel. Our room was lovely, spacious and stylish with a view of the castle which we didn’t expect. After a quick freshen up we headed out to explore the city…

This was Adam’s second visit to Edinburgh, although he has never really explored it fully. I however visit each year with my dad, as we come up to the Fringe Festival, sadly it is like most events cancelled this year and it will be majorly missed! So I took on the role of tour guide haha, we wandered into the Grassmarket and took in the best views of Edinburgh Castle. This is from the top of the Miss Jean Brodie steps, do make sure to go and get a great view for yourselves, it’s a top locals tip (Thanks Richard). Next stop was no.1 on my to do list, yes I love a list wherever we go, Mary’s Milk Bar. I had heard and read so much about this little gelato shop and without having to look for it we came across it walking up the Grassmarket, it was meant to be… With a small queue outside we waited patiently outside, as we entered we got to choose from a list of deliciously combined flavours, I found it hard to decide!?? Adam chose the goats cheese and honey, I went for the black sesame and walnut with cinnamon gelato. Oh my, YUMMY is not a strong enough word to describe. All I will say is you must visit and make sure to tell me what you had too please. We continued our wander, taking in The Royal Mile, Holyrood, Scottish Parliament, Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle. The city was quieter than normal, as I am used to seeing it in high season during the festival, but it was nice to see it from a different perspective and Scotland had just opened up for tourists two days earlier so it was to be expected. With a little drizzle starting we headed back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and enjoyed a pre drink in the bar, cheers to a wonderful weekend! 

We met up with friends at the Grassmarket before we ate, enjoying the company of Richard and Daniel who own Riad Tizwa in Morocco. It was absolutely brilliant to see them both, born and bred in Edinburgh, but hugs were still off limits… After a cool catch up over the obligatory Tennant’s beers we headed to dinner @ 21212. Ubering over to Royal Terrace, we knew we were in for a treat! With a warm welcome we were ushered into this really beautiful Scottish townhouse, jackets taken and brought to our table. It is gorgeous, in an understated glamorous way. We had never felt so eager to dine, we were kindly guided through the menu and chose the 5 course tasting menu. With the wine corked, we settled into an incredible late evening dinner for two. The food was ‘fabulous’ and no better word is needed to describe it than this. Highly recommend for all foodies and food lovers alike…

Saturday allowed us a leisurely breakfast in bed, Adam popped down to the restaurant and came back up to our room laden with bacon baps, pastries, fruit, yogurts and juice for us both. We had coffee and tea facilities in the room, if you preferred you could take breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, whichever suited. Dressed and ready for the day ahead, we decided Arthur’s Seat was calling us and with a sunny start it seemed like the right decision. Did you know Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano? It is the main peak in a group of hills in Edinburgh, which form most of Holyrood Park. We walked up to the peak at a relaxed pace and paused to take in the terrific panoramic views below us, it was nice to be out in the fresh air and enjoying somewhere that wasn’t home, it had been awhile… My first thought was what a wonderful world we live in and Louis Armstrong’s song started playing in my head!! We had such fun climbing it. On our descent we walked through Holyrood Park and past the castle having a glance or two. We stopped for a drink on The Royal Mile, only then starting to feel our muscles beginning to seize. Princes Street was our next destination and it was quite a bit busier than the previous day, we walked up to St Andrew Square and onto George Street. We had lunch at Amarone on the corner, deciding to eat al fresco and ate pizzas with wine. This was starting to feel a lot more like normality than the past few months and we were loving it. 

Calton Hill had been somewhere I had wanted to see, so we headed there next and climbed a few more steps adding to the days tally. We were sure to hit our target today! This part of Edinburgh is just lovely, if I lived here I would frequent it a lot. Many locals seemed to be enjoying the Scottish summer sun and relaxing together. Making us realise that this city break was the best choice for us both. This area is known as Edinburgh’s Acropolis, it is included in the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is one of the most important hills in the whole city. Home to many famous monuments, including The National Monument, Nelson Monument, and Robert Burns Monument, to name a few. You can experience some of the best views up here over Edinburgh and Holyrood. After a good exploration we walked back onto Princes Street and over into Old Calton burial ground, which was very interesting indeed and worth a look. As the sun began to set over the Scottish capital we wandered back to the hotel and got dressed for dinner. Eating at Mother India’s Cafe that evening, situated on Infirmary Road, we feasted on Indian tapas style filling our bellies full. We would gladly recommend and had a great service. Deciding it was too early to end the night just yet, we went for drinks at Hey Palu which funnily enough was opposite our hotel, on Bread Street. This is such a cool bar, with the nicest staff who are ready to help or suggest a drink to your liking. I opted for a Palu Spritz and Adam had an Old Fashioned cocktail, then he chose a vanilla vermouth on ice by recommendation from the barman. We stayed for a few drinks and I tried a vanilla vermouth too, very nice indeed. I especially liked how the snacks provided went perfectly with your chosen drink! Add this to your list when visiting Edinburgh, you won’t be disappointed… Time for bed. 

On Sunday we woke and believe it or not headed to Mary’s for a gelato, well who says you can’t eat ice cream for breakfast… I had a rose cone and Adam spiced coffee. DELISH! We then went for a coffee at Rocksalt Cafe just off The Royal Mile, they make a good cappuccino here! Walking over the bridge afterwards to St Andrew square, where we ate brunch at The Ivy on the Square. I have to say I was impressed by everywhere we drank and ate in Edinburgh, as the systems they had in place made you feel at ease and safe. It was no different here, we entered and had our temperature taken by a machine at the door then we were shown to our table. Sanitiser spray was provided at your table and the service was superb. I ordered a gin cocktail and pancakes followed by a mint tea, Adam had Eggs Benedict and coffee. The food was tasty and it was a pleasurable experience too. I felt safer in Edinburgh than I did at home and I wasn’t sure pre trip how I would feel being away.

Our afternoon was spent with our friends and their parents at the Royal Botanic Gardens. In all the many visits to Edinburgh I had never been to these gardens and I had missed out big time. Hearing all about the history and origins from Richard and Daniel’s mum, Gloria, made them even more special. The botanics are they are known by the locals are one of the best gardens in the world. Their origins date back to 1670 and they span over 70 acres of beauty!! A ‘must see’ whilst in the city and a real pleasure to peruse. They are FREE to visit and all you have to do is book a time slot online. As we heard the traditional call for close at 5 pm sharp, we left and enjoyed a drink with all. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer end to a very pleasant visit to the city, making me love it just a little bit more than I already did… As we said our goodbyes later in the evening and walked back for our car, our hearts were happy and heads were ready for travel once again! North East bound and many new adventures ahead of us. 

Thankful to Edinburgh for easing us back onto the road that is TRAVEL and very appreciative of all who follow us too. SOS Travel x

*Last week we returned to Edinburgh for the day and dined @ 21212, who are currently participating in the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme. our lunch was divine and we enjoyed 4 courses followed by coffee with truffles in the drawing room upstairs… It was such a treat. We look forward to returning once again in the autumn, as they have 4 luxury bedrooms to stay in and we were lucky enough to have a look at them. Can’t wait! Whilst in the city we also went back to the Royal Botanic Gardens, exploring a little more… finding waterfalls and more, even nicer in the warm Scottish sunshine.