Enticing Edinburgh

One of our newest destinations on the Emirates Network is to the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh. I was excited to see this on my roster as I’d never been to Edinburgh, and I never seem to get the new destinations this quickly. Departing Dubai at 9:55am, it was 7 hours and 10 minutes over to Edinburgh International Airport.

My Mum and Dad had decided to join me for the weekend, and when we got to the hotel around 15:30, they were waiting for me in the lobby. Changing quickly, I met them back downstairs and we made our way into the city centre. We called at a place called Twenty on Princes Street. I started my afternoon with an espresso martini as I was feeling a little tired. It was a gorgeous bar and we stayed here for a couple of drinks that had views of Edinburgh Castle as the sun began to set in gorgeous hues of orange and yellow.

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Just around the corner is a restaurant I’d wanted to try for a while called Dishoom. It has a few places in London and one in Manchester, and I didn’t realise there was one up in Edinburgh too. With all of us in the mood for a curry, we were eager to try out this new place too.

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The food was amazing, and I would definitely recommend this place. It’s offered as a sharing concept and we began with calamari which was dressed in the most amazing sauce (my absolute favourite), prawn koliwada served with tamarind and date chutney and far far.

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For our mains we went with the chicken ruby, lamb boti kabab, salli balti, steamed rice and a garlic naan. The food, service and restaurant were absolutely brilliant. We had to wait 25 minutes for a table, but you’re taken to their underground bar where they serve up a whole host of drinks. I really couldn’t fault it at all. I will definitely be venturing back here at some point, somewhere in the UK.

Finally we made our way back to the hotel and to bed, ready for our start the next morning.

Waking up at 8:15, I met my parents downstairs for breakfast in the hotel. I couldn’t resist a full english breakfast, for the bargain price of £5 too! Fuelling up for the busy day ahead of us, we took the bus in the direction of the Royal Mile.

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The Royal Mile is a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The term was first used descriptively in WM Gilbert’s Edinburgh in the Nineteenth Century (1901), “…with its Castle and Palace and the royal mile between”, and was further popularised as the title of a guidebook, published in 1920.

From the Castle gates to the Palace gates the street is almost exactly a mile long and runs downhill between two significant locations in the royal history of Scotland, namely Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, hence its name.

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From here we walked to the top end of the Royal Mile where Edinburgh Castle is. Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. Archaeologists have established human occupation of the rock since at least the Iron Age (2nd century AD), although the nature of the early settlement is unclear. There has been a royal castle on the rock since at least the reign of David I in the 12th century, and the site continued to be a royal residence until 1633.

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From the 15th century the castle’s residential role declined, and by the 17th century it was principally used as military barracks with a large garrison. Its importance as a part of Scotland’s national heritage was recognised increasingly from the early 19th century onwards, and various restoration programmes have been carried out over the past century and a half. As one of the most important strongholds in the Kingdom of Scotland, Edinburgh Castle was involved in many historical conflicts from the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century to the Jacobite rising of 1745. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world”.

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We paid the £15 entrance into the castle and began to wander around the picturesque grounds with the wonderful scenic aerial views across the city. We had the most perfect weather for it too, not a cloud in sight, glorious blue skies and a chilly autumnal air. It was bliss to me.

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We wandered into the war museum located within the castle which was very informative and displayed a lot of the uniforms from different wars. One thing I picked up on was that a lot of the coats are very similar to ones we wear today! So much so, the jacket I had on, looked very similar to the fighter pilot from 1920!

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After an hour or so in the castle, we were ready for a warm beverage and a slice of cake and I had the perfect suggestion of where to go, The Elephant Room. The Elephant Room is referred to as the birth place of Harry Potter due to the many hours JK Rowling spent here writing the books and taking inspiration from Edinburgh Castle for Hogwarts as you can see it from the windows at the back of the cafe.

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We had to wait a short while for a table due to the amount of tourists also wanting to visit the cafe, and we were eventually placed at a table by the window, wondering if JK Rowling had also sat in this exact spot those many years ago!

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We ordered three pots of tea and I opted for the purple velvet cake (made with purple yams, does that make it healthier??) and we could completely get all the inspiration she took for the books from this magical city.

In the toilets, the walls had been completely over run with graffiti of messages to JK Rowling thanking her for the Harry Potter books. It was quite overwhelming reading them all, these heart felt messages from people all over the world.

One thing I will say about this cafe is that to say the sheer amount of tourists that come through here, on most likely a daily basis, (they even had everything on the menu and signs in mandarin too) combined with the overpriced menu, the cafe looked so run down and tattered. Additionally, the staff did not seem to want to be there at all and just threw the menu down on the table as the pointed to which one we were sat at. They clearly take quite an income each day, and it was sad to see that it looked like a grotty old cafe with bad staff, and gives tourists quite a bad impression of the city.

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When we exited the cafe, we walked across the street and in the cafe opposite they had this sign in the window which made me and my mum laugh a lot…

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You can even see me and Mandz laughing in the reflection of the window!

From here we went back onto the Royal Mile to continue to the end of the street in the direction of Holyrood Palace.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse, commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace, is the official residence of the British monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II. Located at the bottom of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, at the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace has served as the principal residence of the Kings and Queens of Scots since the 16th century, and is a setting for state occasions and official entertaining.

Queen Elizabeth spends one week in residence at Holyrood Palace at the beginning of each summer, where she carries out a range of official engagements and ceremonies. The 16th century Historic Apartments of Mary, Queen of Scots and the State Apartments, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public throughout the year, except when members of the Royal Family are in residence.

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Having spent so much time in Edinburgh Castle and with time pressing on before my wake up call, we passed up on wandering around Holyrood Palace and walked back towards Princes Street so I could grab some shopping before we went back to the hotel.

I had such a fabulous layover, I really loved Edinburgh. It has so much to offer and is a beautiful British city, I can’t believe it took me so long to visit. Thank you so much Mum and Dad for coming up to visit, I had such a great time with you both, love you!

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