This time last year we visited Edinburgh, not the first time we had been there, but the first time exploring the amazing city (the first time was going to a lovely wedding). We loved Edinburgh so much that we went again last month, where it was still autumnal and not too cold. So here is a double recount, in two parts, of our time in cold Edinburgh last year and autumnal Edinburgh last month:
National Museum of Scotland
You can’t go to Edinburgh without visiting this large museum. Situated in the Old Town it is split into sections, such as the science and technology gallery where there is a stuffed Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first successful clone; the grand gallery where there is the millennium clock; and world cultures galleries amongst others. The museum also has a roof terrace with amazing views, which is definitely worth a look. Entry is free and you can easily spend a fair few hours lost here.
A little Skye terrier became famous for guarding his owner’s grave for 14 years, leaving only for food. Locals used to feed him and he is now honoured with his own life-sized statue. Quite popular, you might have to wait a little to get a picture, but there are many little souvenirs of this loyal dog too and we got one to take home.
Museum of Edinburgh
A small museum on the Royal Mile showing the development of this city. There is a miniature model of the Old Town, items from WW1 commander Earl Haig, the collar and bowl of Greyfriars Bobby, amongst other things. A nice place to spend an afternoon if the weather isn’t great and entry is free.
Museum of Childhood
Another small museum on the Royal Mile, displaying toys and games from childhood, some of them a little creepy like the dolls. Surprisingly larger on the inside, I imagine this place would tick the box if you were a little older, as most of the toys were from before I was born so I personally didn’t have many sentimental feelings walking through here. A nice, although somewhat creepy, place to spend the afternoon and entry is free.
The Writers’ Museum
Next to the Royal Mile down a little alley is a free Writers Museum focusing on Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. There is a floor for each writer with memorabilia from their life and works, such as Burns’ writing table and Scott’s printing press used for Waverley. It was interesting reading about their lives, their influences, and how what they wrote influenced others. A nice place to pass an hour or so. Outside is also Makar’s Court, with engravings on the ground.
Scotch Whisky Experience
Right next to Edinburgh Castle is the Scotch Whisky Experience. We prepaid and pre booked online, which meant we didn’t have to queue. We were ushered into a barrel ride where there were videos and audio explaining about single malt whisky production.
Next we entered a room to watch a beautiful panoramic video describing different regions and how the natural landscape affect the taste of whisky with a corresponding scratch and sniff card. The scents were enhanced flavours of the drink rather than the actual scent of that particular whisky. Next we watched another video explaining how whisky blends, where we chose which whisky we wished to taste; and then had a tasting session in the vault containing the world’s largest scotch whisky collection. There is Irn Bru for those who are underage or don’t wish to drink.
Finally there is a gallery where you can buy another drink, with views of Edinburgh, and then you exit to the shop. The gallery showcased whisky in all sorts of odd and interesting bottles, my favourite being, of course, in a dog. There were other intriguing bottles like golf equipment and chess pieces. It is quite a short tour for the silver tour, the basic tour, but clearly has good production value.
We got to keep the whisky glasses we drank from, which we weren’t expecting, they even give you boxes for you to take them home in. For those who already know a lot about whisky it probably won’t be informative, but for those who are amateurs it is quite good, essentially an overview of the history and making of the drink.
Scottish National Gallery
Near Princes Street Gardens is the Scottish National Gallery, which has many late medieval religious paintings, but not many landscapes even though the landscape of this country is so spectacular. There were several paintings from famous painters, such as Van Gogh, Constable, and Rembrandt. A rather small gallery, it will fully open in 2021. A couple of my favourites were Gustave Dore’s Souvenir of Loch Carron and Sir Edwin Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen.
Colonnades at the Signet Library
One of the most memorable places we ate in Edinburgh was afternoon tea at the Signet Library, surrounded by old law books. The food was modernised, whilst the decor was harking back to older days. Great atmosphere, you don’t need to dress up to enter, but can if you like. You can also have a normal lunch here and even book this amazing venue for events or weddings.
Noughts and Coffees
We also went to a board game cafe that had a good choice of games (listed for your convenience) with decent food. Very reasonably priced with no time limit. The games are in good condition considering it is clear they have been well played.
We played Ticket to Ride, it had a couple of pieces missing, but the instructions were still intact. Definitely worth a visit if you have some time spare and want to spend it indoors. Great atmosphere, not too loud which was good as we needed to hear each other while explaining instructions, and very helpful staff.
The Hoot Speakeasy
Walk by too quickly and you’ll miss it, down the steps to an easily miss-able door leads to a tarot reader puppet at the following door that takes you through to a fabulous speakeasy. Great atmosphere, tasty cocktails, and great decor. There’s also a vending machine that does alcohol flavoured ice cream. I was told on some nights you can get a tarot reading, not the night we went, but a good evening was still spent here.
To continue reading, click here: Edinburgh – part 2