Gearoid Kelleher discovers the wonders of the Scottish capital.
If Edinburgh was a whiskey it would be an aged single malt; inviting, mysterious, and warming with a very pleasant and long lasting palette. It, as my mother says, “has a taste of more”. Having had the pleasure of spending a weekend in Edinburgh recently I can honestly say that I am itching to return.
The Scottish temperament, and more accurately that of your average Edinburgian, was somewhat familiar to this buachaill; mostly upbeat despite the weather (like Ireland they live under constant expectation of rain), easy going and genuinely friendly. A relatively compact city with a population of around half a million, Edinburgh is more than capable of holding its own against the international heavy hitters and sometimes clichéd city-break destinations such as Paris or London.
My personal highlights, apart from the people, the food, the shopping on Princes Street and the general atmosphere, were walking the Royal Mile, a series of streets that combine to connect Edinburgh Castle and Hollyrood Abbey. Pedestrians abound, delighting in offerings of tartan, t-shirts and general memorabilia of their trip. At the summit of the Royal Mile one finds the castle. A wonderful and must see location offering 360° views of the city from its ramparts. The castle itself, a culmination of building, demolition and rebuilding, keeps a watchful eye over the Scottish Crown Jewels and the Stone of Scone. There is so much history and legend attached to the castle that I cannot do it justice here. I had the pleasure of visiting the castle with one of, if not the best, tour guideIi have ever met. Colin spoke of the castle, its inhabitants and history as if it was his own. He welcomed us into his world and he shared it with us for a very enlightening and very enjoyable experience. Make sure to allow plenty of time as the castle tour is very popular.
A mere stone’s throw from the castle, one cannot help but enjoy the delights of the Scotch Whiskey Experience. Here expert tour guides and whiskey advisors will lead you on a journey of legend and skill, a true feast for the senses. Following the tour a true indulgence can be found in the Amber restaurant where I recommend the Scottish tapas and the Comparative Whisky Experience options.
Fans of Terry Prattchett and J.K Rowling will revel in the atmosphere of the old town. With towering, leaning brownstone tenements and cobble streets combined with antique alleys and subterranean tunnels, it is not hard to imagine you are treading the cobbles of Ankmorpork or, having passed through The Leaky Cauldron pub, you are on the way to purchase a wand in Diagon Alley.
Edinburgh is a confident city, akin to a Hollywood matinee idol; it is classy, cool and mature but hip. It doesn’t try too hard and yet it can cater to the casual visitor, the star crossed lovers, the history buffs, the gourmands. It literally has something for everyone and it offers its wares for all to indulge or dip in and sample.
It is a vibrant cosmopolitan city, easily accessible, less than an hour’s flight from Dublin and less than two hours from Cork. Getting to the city centre could not be easier; as soon as you leave the arrivals gate of Edinburgh International Airport hop on the Airlink bus and for a paltry £6 you have an open ended return ticket. If you prefer, a taxi will cost you about £20 and both modes will take you approximately 30-40 minutes. There are countless accommodation options, from budget bed and breakfast and self-catering apartments to hotels that suit all wallets and purses.
I cannot express how much Edinburgh has to offer but I urge you to seriously consider visiting this gem of a city and enjoy a truly wonderful experience by tailoring your stay to match your own quirks, interests and desires. All that is left for me to do is offer a truly Gaelic salute; Sláinte.
For a comprehensive guide to all things Edinburgh, check out visitscotland.com/creative