The beauty of having friends in town is that it is the perfect excuse to pretend that I don’t actually live in Edinburgh and see things with a slightly different perspective. The only thing that I could have possibly worked in better would have been if I had remembered to take my camera with me! This means that, although still mine, the few photos that are in this post were not taken on Saturday.
We were staying near the EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) and so the simplest way to the National Museum – our first stop of the day/where we’d spend the morning – was through the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket is one of my favourite parts of the Old Town, once a cattle market it has been everything from a traders sight to the location of Edinburgh’s gallows (and many stories of grave robbing and body-snatching besides). It has had pubs since the 1700s – but boasts many more these days, the Beehive and The Last Drop being my favourites – and also boasts the location of the first piped water in Edinburgh (the well at the bottom of Victoria Street). For reasons of aesthetics we went up Victoria Street (the buildings are more fun) before heading down to the museum. I think I’ve gone on about the museum at (some might say excruciating) length before, so I’ll gloss over it this time (but you can read it here, if you are so inclined).
It was raining slightly by the time we left the museum, but we decided to brave it and find a cafe for lunch (the first of many food/drink related stops for the afternoon). We wandered up South Bridge/Nicholson St looking for a little cafe and ended up finding ‘Elephants and Bagels’ (37 Marshall Street (Nicholson Square)). We all happen to love bagels – good job really, they don’t serve anything else – and so we loved it. Pastrami, salsa and cheese or mozzarella, pesto and ham to name only two of the many possibilities, served on a choice of over 10 different bagel types. I will be certainly going back the next time I’m in that part of town, even if some of their art work – think hundreds of different peoples’ drawings of elephants – is slightly overpowering.
As we were playing the tourist, we decided that we would spend the (now largely sunny) afternoon wandering from the Castle down the Royal Mile to Holyrood Palace before walking back up to North Bridge to walk along Princes Street and view the next saga of diversions for tram works.
We avoided the tourists shops like the plague, and so the first place we actually ventured into after leaving the Castle esplanade was half way down the Cannon Gate – The Edinburgh Fudge Kitchen. I love this fudge shop, and I can’t help but go in almost every time I pass. On this particular occasion I came out with ‘chocolate peppermint’, ‘triple dark chocolate’ and ‘Amaretto’. This would usually be where I’d insert a photo of the fudge, but I ate it before I got near a camera. Whoops.
By the time we got down to the bottom of the RM we were all feeling in need of refreshment. We’d all seen Holyrood palace before, so had a quick glance through the gates, scoffed at how ugly the parliament building is and made our way back up the hill in search of tea and coffee. We happened across Cafe Vivo, just opposite Canongate Kirk, to supply us with this caffeine kick and accidentally discovered that they have one of the best chocolate brownies I have ever tasted. Fact. It’s a fairly small place, but their menu seemed very extensive for its size ( although only pizzas, pastas, soups and sandwiches, but in many varieties), but if they are half as good as they smelt, they will be delicious.
When we reached Princes Street there was a bit of indecision in our plans and as some of us decided that braving the crowds to go shopping was not going to happen we split. We meandered through Princes Street Gardens for a while, looking at the copper map, the bandstand and the Ross fountain (with many a photo-opp for my American Friend). Eventually we decided that we would wander back to the flat. As Lothian Road isn’t known for its stunning beauty (and the fact that my friend needed to know how to get to Waverley from the flat) we walked back via the mound. It was whilst wandering down the Grassmarket we decided that we were going to be back way before the others and were discussing what we should do when we got distracted (probably by something shiny) and accidentally found ourselves in the Beehive (a pub, towards the bottom of the GM). It seemed a shame to waste the opportunity, so we sat there with a round of drinks (I had a pint of Edinburgh Gold, if you’re at all interested) discussing how we could spend the time until the others got back. Unsurprisingly, after spending an hour in the pub, we got back about the same time as the others, thus the predicament was solved.
This only left us with the problem of dinner. We opted for Illegal Jacks (on Lothian Road) which offers a range ‘tex-mex’ dishes, and I guess would technically be called ‘fast-food’ – although don’t let the usual trash that comes under that bracket fool you, this is proper food. I opted for the chicken Quesadilla, with a bottle of Brewdog’s ‘Trashy Blonde’ [insert own joke here] which, whilst it won’t win them a Michelin star, was absolutely delicious.
By way of a quick summary – you’re no doubt getting rather bored by now – let me put it like this: I had never been to any of the places we went on Saturday (except for the fudge kitchen), but from it I can now thoroughly recommend:
Elephants and Bagels, for a quick snack-y lunch
The Edinburgh Fudge Kitchen for all things teeth-rotting, delicious and fudge related
Cafe Vivo for mouth-watering brownies and a quick caffeine fix
The Beehive for a lazy drink whilst whilst you decide how waste some time
Illegal Jacks, What’s a quick nibble between friends of an evening?