Last week, a friend and I decided to take a little day trip to Scotland's capital. We wanted a day free from sitting hunched over our laptops in a stuffy library. We wanted to go, see, do...
Can you believe that I have been living in Scotland for FOUR YEARS and had never visited Edinburgh until last week? Madness, I know.
I've made many-a-stop at Waverley station on the train up to Aberdeen, but I don't think that counts.
In the early hours of Saturday, I sent out a tweet and a snapchat video asking my followers for things to do in the city
I got more recommendations that I had anticipated, so spent the train ride jotting them all down and desperately swiping through Google Maps to make sure I didn't become that annoying lost tourist.
19 Grassmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2HS
I met up with my friend, Naomi whom I had not seen in aaaaaaaaaages! She welcomed me to the city and took me to the first stop: Mary's Milk Bar.
Now, on a snowy, grey Scottish morning, you wouldn't expect an ice cream parlour to be so busy, but this place is so charming, so people (both tourists and locals) can't ignore it.
We both of lovely salted caramel milkshakes, that were so good! So good in fact that I'd wolfed it down before I even had a chance to take a picture (doh!).
Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG
Here, I bid farewell to Naomi and met up with Dede. We purused around the castle for a bit, mostly with mouths open at the sheer size of it.
My Geology nerdiness tells me that the castle is built on a huge batholith, part of an extinct volcano #LearningWithJoelle.
The snow started to fall thick and fast, so we took refuge in The Royal Mile Cafe.
549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND
Next on my recommendation list was Camera Obscura. Dede and I had absolutely no idea what this place was, but we queued up for it just to get out of the blizzard. It turns out to be six floors of optical illusions, challenges and fun stuff - mainly for kids, mind.
At the top of the building is a large camera that overlooks Edinburgh. It has a super zoom, used to "spy" on people entering Edinburgh Castle. We also saw the famous Greyfriars cemetery where JK Rowling once walked and got inspiration for her Harry Potter character names - there is a real Tom Riddle tombstone!!
The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL
I love galleries and museums unapologetically. Most are free and filled with such special things. It's so surreal being about to stand and admire something that was created hundreds of years ago, right?
Despite lots of foodie recommendations for places like The Witchery and The Living Room, Dede and I were really craving Wagamamas! I mean, how can you turn down a steaming bowl of chicken/noodle ramen goodness? You know your meal is going to be good when you need a ladle to eat it!
We also visited a market where we picked up macarons from Mademoiselle Macaron, a cute stationery shop and a few vintage boutiques. From the quirky shops to the historical buildings, Edinburgh is honestly stunning. I kept oooh and aaahing like I'd never seen a city before, but it couldn't be helped!
I'm super excited to head back this summer for the Fringe Festival.
My train window view of the Stonehaven coast.
This part of Scotland is a real thing on beauty and I urge you to come visit. It's so easy to opt for a weekend away outside of the UK, but we really do have some scenic and historic gems north of the border that are just begging to be explored.
Go on, it's waiting for you!
*P.S. I've tackled macaroni pies, Irn Bru, tablet and tattie scones, but I'm still in search of the deep-fried Mars Bar...