We finally embarked on our farthest excursion yet to the north of Great Britain—a doable 4.5 hours by train to the city of Edinburgh (Eh-din-burr-uh…no hard gs in this word). Edinburgh is a perfect 2-3 day jaunt for those looking to spice up a longer stay in the UK. If you’re departing from London, there are direct trains from King’s Cross into Edinburgh station, and if you stick around for an hour or two longer on the train, you’ll find yourself in Scotland’s other major city and hopefully future blog post topic, Glasgow.
The train ride itself was (mostly) beautiful—lush scenic landscapes spattered with turbines as the Friday sun set, a scene out of a Constable painting. Just ignore the occasional vandalized train tunnels filled with rubbish.
We arrived in Edinburgh late on a Friday, and had a short but steep walk to our Airbnb. The location, Cockburn Street*, was perfect. Minutes from the train, around the corner from the Royal Mile, and surprisingly quiet despite so much hustle and bustle. Andrew, our host, was ‘awesome’ (as us Americans overuse). Edinburgh can be on the pricier end for Airbnb, so we opted for a Private Room versus an Entire Apartment. No regrets. He is a friendly Scottish man, with an intriguing love of hockey and a spare room.
We were hungry upon arrival, and were craving some good ol’ traditional Scottish food. Andrew recommended Whiski, a pub on the Royal Mile filled with both tourists and locals. He swore that despite being smack in the middle of the touristy part of town, we wouldn’t be disappointed and he was right. We already felt immersed in the local culture having been greeted by a completed smashed, elderly gentleman outside of the entrance (though he kept tiptoeing back inside, then management had to escort him out again, on repeat.)
We had not built up the courage yet to try Haggis (spoiler: and never did), and instead opted for an equally culturally relevant ‘Bangers and Mash’–aka hearty sausages** and creamy mashed potatoes–as well as a few (fried) sides. I (Reg) tend not to be a fan of mashed potatoes (cue ‘boos’; Nick Comment: I’m leading the boos) but this dish was stellar! Perhaps we have adjusted to the skimping of salt at restaurants in England, but the dish was spiced perfectly.
Our feast ended with a flight of whisky (duh). We were all ready to order the beginner flight but our waitress talked us out of it and into another one which she claimed was miles better for only a pound or two more.
We peeled ourselves out of the chair and took a midnight stroll down the Royal Mile to see what it looked like lit up (straight up lit, too) and plot our course for tomorrow morning. More to come on all of our tourist attractions in the next blog post, but here’s a teaser:
*Yes, the street name made us giggle too, but it’s pronounced Coh-burn.
**Not blood sausages. Regular pork sausages. Dining in Scotland often felt like a game of dodgeball for those with a weak stomach.
***Slowly figuring out how to use shutter speed on my DSLR! I get it, i get it!