We arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland at a chilly, dark 7am and took a cab to our Castle…the Dalmahoy Marriott Country Club. It is nestled in the countryside about 6 miles from the train station and downtown area. We checked in and rested until the sun came up.
We spent several days in Edinburgh, though I wish we had had more time to venture further around Scotland. Since we only had a few days, we plotted out where we wanted to go, and aside from getting from the hotel to the center of town, we were able to walk to every place we wanted to see.
That first day, we walked through the grounds and checked out part of the golf course before heading out. Along the way we found cute furry animals; we walked out to the gate and across the street to the bus stop. The bus took us to the center of town for only a few pounds.
We headed to Edinburgh Castle and roamed around. The Castle is fantastic, and the view of the city is also wonderful. We stopped for afternoon tea in the Castle Café to escape the rain for a while before heading over to Old Town.
Cockburn Street in Old Town is amazing and full of funky fashion, music, home wares and other eclectic shops. My favorite, Miss Katie Cupcake, is a great shop. She makes vintage inspired jewelry and other chic items. It was difficult choosing just a few things, but she ships internationally…
During our stay we also visited Holyrood House, which I loved. Not only can one tour the Queens many lived in rooms, but also Mary, Queen of Scots’ Chambers and the Darnley Rooms. The gardens and the ruins of the old Abbey are equally fantastic. We also took a spooky nighttime underground vault tour that finished in a local tavern with a shot of whiskey, and at night when we returned to our castle…they had hot mulled wine waiting in the foyer.
Pocky in his quest for local fare tried a traditional breakfast at the hotel, complete with black pudding. I decided to tell him the ingredients in his food after breakfast. We had a lot of great food while in Scotland, some more geared to my dietary needs and others so that Pocky could enjoy some traditional food. Here are the highlights.
Henderson’s restaurant is on Hanover off Queen Street and the Bistro is at 25c Thistle Street. The popular restaurant, café and bistro are based in the modern shopping area near the train station. Hanover’s serves fresh yummy vegetarian food. Even if you aren’t a veg, there is plenty to enjoy – salads, fresh bread, veggie burgers, pasta, hearty soups and fabulous desserts. http://www.hendersonsofedinburgh.co.uk/
DAVID BANN is an award-winning restaurant. I recommend reservations, but the food is amazing. Also vegetarian, they create rich and sophisticated dishes. Their homemade vegan ice cream ranks in my top two favorites, alongside Maggie Mudd in San Francisco, CA. They are at 56-58 St Mary’s Street, off the Royal Mile and the Cowgate. http://www.davidbann.co.uk/
We also dined at the WHISKI ROOMS one night to experience more traditional food. It is an all day bar and bistro with a whisky shop and tasting room. Pocky sampled whiskey drinks and I experienced the Scottish take on an appletini, which was scrumptious. The chef was kind enough to make me the one item off the lunch menu that I could eat for dinner and Pocky had the traditional Macsweens Haggis with Bashed Neeps, Tatties and Whisky Sauce – now that’s a mouthful.
We also ate at the BLACK ROSE TAVERN, a rock and roll bar serving tasty food and beverages on Rose Street near George Street. Pocky had traditional pub food, while I tried the Cajun veggie stir-fry, one of the hottest dishes I’ve ever had.
Our final night, we hopped a night train back to London in order to make our morning train to Paris, France.