Scotchy, Scotch, Scotch
The second stop on our trip was to Edinburgh, Scotland. We picked Edinburgh to visit because my grandmother was Scottish and Marc likes scotch. That pretty much settles it. My grandmother grew up in Dundee, Scotland which we were unable to visit, but is still on our bucket list.
Choosing a Ryanair flight from Dublin to Edinburgh is the least expensive and fastest way to get there. I think there are a lot of mixed feelings about Ryanair. Here are our perceptions and what we learned:
- Yes, it is an inexpensive flight. Don’t expect to be wined and dined…you get get what you pay for.
- Make sure you have a printed boarding pass. They will not take electronic boarding passes.
- If you are flying with a non-EU passport, you must get a visa stamp when you check you bags. No one will tell you this until you are boarding and you could be told to get one before boarding and miss your flight. You will not have a problem getting through security without the stamp. The gate is where they will tell you that you cannot board without it. We almost learned this the hard way. Ask at the counter where to get one since I have heard it varies between airports.
- Measure your suitcase…then measure again. Ryanair is very strict on baggage size and if yo are not careful, you may get stuck with an outrageous fee.
- If you are going to check luggage, pay for it online beforehand. It is much more expensive to pay for a checked bag once you arrive at the airport.
Overall, our experience was good with Ryanair and will still use them in the future.
where we stayed
Standing high on a hill in the middle of the city sits the Edinburgh Castle. After seeing photos of this beautiful structure, we knew that we wanted to stay in this area. We found an adorable Airbnb apartment located in the Grassmarket area. It is just a short walk to the most famous street in Edinburgh, The Royal Mile. There is so much to see and visit on The Royal Mile . We spent most of our time in this area while in Edinburgh.
What we did
Obviously a must when visiting , the Edinburgh Castle is worth the trip. Spending almost the whole day here, we were captivated by the history and architecture of this beautiful place. There is a lot to see and it can definitely be overwhelming. Here are our favorite parts to help you hit the must see spots:
- View of Edinburgh: Definitely the best view of the city. Since the castle sits high in the middle of the city, you can see for miles. We are lucky and had a beautiful, clear day!
- Prisoners of War Museum: During times of war, the prisoners were held in an area under the great hall. We were surprised that how “comfortable” it seemed considering the circumstances. There are many hammocks and mattresses which seems much more humane than I had expected. There are many fascinating artifacts made by the prisoners including games, woodworking, and coins.
- The Grand Hall: Not only does the ceiling in the Grand Hall showcase beautiful architecture, the whole room is packed with old weapons. It is definitely worth at least a walk through.
Here are a few other helpful tips about visiting the castle:
•Wear layers. it can get a little chilly and windy when you are walking outside but warmer inside.
•Wear good walking shoes. There is a lot of walking and cobblestone .
•Go early in the morning for less crowds.
•Buy your tickets online and skip the line.
•Plan on a minimum of 2 hours to visit.
The Scotch Whisky experience
I would highly recommend visiting the Scotch Whisky Experience . It was the highlight of our visit in Edinburgh. Since Marc loves whisky, we decided to do the Taste of Scotland Experience which includes a dinner at the end. We both agree that the meal was the best we had during our entire Europe trip.
First the tour starts out with a ride in a whisky barrel through the distillation process. It then moves to the tasting room where you learn about the different regions scotch is made and the last differences. Although scotch is not my favorite, I did enjoy the tasting and would still recommend the tour. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable.
Next, we walked thorough the largest collection of single malt scotch whisky. It is unbelievable! The room seems to go on forever with bottle after bottle of scotch. All of the bottles are sealed, never been opened. Two of the bottles however, are completely empty from evaporation. I didn’t know that scotch could evaporate that much but learned The Angels Share is the name for the lost whisky.
Eventually, we found our way out of the collection room and had dinner at the Amber Restaurant. We can’t say enough good things about how good the food there is and are impressed how accommodating they are on food preferences. And yes, we both tried haggis which isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.
The Scotch Whisky Experience- Edinburgh
the royal mile
The Royal Mile is the street running from the Edinburgh Castle to the Holyrood Palace. It is full of shops, pubs, restaurants and other tourist attractions. Despite being pretty touristy, it is definitely worth walking down. Most of our time was spent in this area, walking up and down the “mile”. We found ourselves sitting in a few of the restaurants and pubs to enjoy a scotch and a bite to eat. You will find that most of the souvenir shops sell cashmere scarfs and although we didn’t have much extra room in our luggage, I did purchase a few for gifts.
Arthurs Seat is a high peak in Holyrood Park. Just a short walk from The Royal Mile, we took a hike to the top on our last day. The hike isn’t too difficult and is a relatively short 3 miles round trip. I would allow for at least an hour and a half. We didn’t spend too much time at the top due to it being so cold and windy, but the views are amazing and well worth the trek. Definitely bring a jacket. On a warmer day it would have been nice to bring a picnic lunch and stay a little longer.
We enjoyed Edinburgh and hope to go back someday and see what we didn’t have time for. Stay tuned for our visit to London. I love to hear your questions and comments. You can leave them in the box below.