The combination of several years ill health and the lack of a travelling companion meant that my passport had long expired when I met my other half.
He’d mentioned a rugby trip ‘with the lads’ to Edinburgh in our early days which would clash with my birthday. It turned out the lads’ wives were also going on the trip, just not to the rugby match. I was soon invited along too 🙂
Their flights were already arranged but I managed to book myself on the same one once I’d got a new passport sorted. Some of the group were staying at the Novotel. City centre bookings had been taken up fast by rugby fans so we got ourselves a room there too.
After early birthday celebrations with maple syrup pancakes for breakfast, we met with our friends to travel to Stansted.
The lovely boyfriend was expecting to set the airport alarms off as he has had brachytherapy radiation treatment for his prostate cancer. (Caught early, we’re trying to not to worry about it) He has a card to show officials in order to avoid unnecessarily intimate searches but he flew through security with no problem. Our only hold-up was his mate forgetting to remove his belt and our clear bags for toiletries being the wrong size!
Once we were preparing to depart it was time for a warm beverage and a sweet treat. My first Instagram of the trip was from the James Martin cafe that had particularly tasty black forest muffins 🙂 Several Instagrams followed over the weekend and I made a slideshow for those that missed the highlights!
Unfortunately, I was right to be apprehensive about flying after an 11 year absence. My vestibular issues seem to have left me very sensitive to aeroplane cabin pressure 🙁 While take-off was merely very uncomfortable, descent was at times excruciating, so I’ll have to address this for future travel.
Thankfully, after a lengthy wait in the cold for a taxi from airport to hotel (we weren’t made aware of the tram system), our arrival at the Novotel saw a very warm welcome indeed.
This turned out to be a great option as customer service was faultless over the weekend. The proximity to the transport links was great too.
One of the friendly receptionists booked us a taxi while we dropped off our luggage. There was just enough time to make a very quick change of clothes to get to our dinner reservation. Never one to turn down a good deal, I’d booked us into Frankie & Benny’s on the Royal Mile to take advantage of their complimentary birthday voucher 🙂
I’d had Deacon Brodie’s Tavern recommended to me by a shop customer and it was quite nearby. Of course, the place was full to the rafters with Friday night revellers. I snapped a quick shot outside and we went to join our friends for a drink elsewhere.
Half of the group fancied a very late night/early morning…half of us soon headed back to the hotel to prepare for Saturday.
After a wonderfully hearty hotel breakfast (many thanks to Novotel again for making mine complimentary for my birthday weekend), the boys were left in the bar before they departed to Murrayfield. The girls headed into the city to take in some culture. As we passed the rugby stadium on the tram it was already looking hellishly busy. I texted the lovely boyfriend to suggest they get a move on if they hadn’t already.
Having never been on a tram, except in Blackpool in the dim and distant past, I was super impressed with the efficiency of the system and it was good value too.
Arriving at the York Place tram terminus, we followed one friend’s iPhone map to The Scottish Gallery. We had a good walk to get there and admired Edinburgh’s fine architecture as we went. I couldn’t do the beautiful city justice with my tiny compact camera. However, the ongoing trapped nerve pain I have in my right arm makes carrying the Nikon around a nightmare. The weather did me no favours either but it’s still a great place to walk around.
We found a lovely little cafe for a drink and a snack before a little shopping on Princes Street.
Our plan was to make our way back to the hotel before the rugby fans descended again from Murrayfield and our timings were pretty spot on.
In the evening we had reservations at the Burgers & Beers Grillhouse. I wasn’t looking forward to it much as burgers aren’t really my thing. But, I have to admit, it was great. You can make your own combination so I could swap beef for chicken and a couple of friends even had the option with added haggis. This is also the place where I discovered passionfruit & apple cider so it will always be held dear to my heart! A fun evening and we enjoyed a nightcap in the hotel bar too.
Our last day came around too soon. The group separated and met up again at various points during the day before it was time to make our journey to the airport for the early evening flight.
Novotel came up trumps again, allowing us to leave luggage in their care while we went sightseeing. As I’ve said, Edinburgh is a beautiful city but dragging a suitcase around it all day would not have been ideal!
Sadly, the weather still wasn’t being nice. However, the lovely boyfriend and I were determined to make our way up to the castle after another amazing breakfast.
Once up there though, after pausing for a silly selfie at the Camera Obscura, the wind and rain were so harsh it seemed daft to pay the entrance fee when time was limited and photos were going to be awful. We are planning a return visit when the weather’s nicer though as so much of the city remains unvisited.
We popped in the gift shop for a few souvenirs and ran into one of the other couples. They joined us for a visit to The Scottish National Gallery. Indoors; dry; warm; no brainer! First stop was the little cafe inside for a hot drink and a piece of cake.
I must say how impressed I was all weekend at the availability of dairy & gluten free options. Well done Edinburgh 🙂
Himself was very patient while I got my arty farty fix and I’ll try not to bore you guys but the place was pretty awesome:
After that feast for the eyes it was time for the inclement weather to batter our senses. We made our way back to Princes Street to meet our friends and catch the tram back to the hotel for the last time.
On the way we made a quick dash into Debenhams to admire some stained glass I’d heard about. We also grabbed a couple of mementoes, and, took a final glance upwards to the castle.
Thank you Edinburgh, for being just as lovely as everyone said you would be. I’ll be back!