At last, a summer trip abroad.
My husband, Ray and I traveled from Memphis to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit my sister, Aline who had been living there for the past year for work, and my brother-in-law, Shane who traveled from their home base, Philly to meet us there. It was our first family trip where we all traveled and met somewhere to vacation together. We were there for a week and spent the majority of our time in and around Edinburgh, with a couple of day trips mixed in; one to Glasgow and another to a nearby island, Inchcolm Abbey. We had more things on our to-do list then we could have accomplished in a week, yet we were still able to see and experience a great range of Scotland’s history and culture, natural landscape, architecture, art, shopping, and more. This article captures some of our stories from the trip, revealed through my personal lens: a day-to-day logbook of happenings and lots of pictures.
Saturday, July 9
The Transition Day
We arrived in Edinburgh at 10:00 am and took the train from the airport to city center to meet my sister for coffee on Princes and Hanover.
SIDE STORY: Our travel day was long, we experienced some complications connecting from Memphis to NY because of T-storms and were diverted to Hartford. But, luckily, since all the planes landing in NY were either delayed or diverted, our connecting flight to Scotland was delayed to accommodate us, and we were able to catch it just in time.
After some coffee and snacks, we walked to her place off Easter and Bothwell to drop off our luggage and nap. That evening, we went to a trendy restaurant called Compass; I ordered an English gin and had the lamb for dinner. Afterward, we walked around the neighborhood, Leith by the waterfront. It was an early night after a long travel day.
Sunday, July 10
The Overview Day
I woke up Sunday feeling energetic and excited. We began the morning with brunch at Urban Angel, a very friendly establishment with casual dining and pleasant atmosphere. I highly recommend the food; we had Americanos, fresh-squeezed juices, eggs benedict, toast, oatmeal, and other yummy breakfast foods.
SIDE STORY: Servers rarely bring you a check unless you specifically ask for it. We quietly waited for the server to bring a check, and they patiently waited for us to ask for a check. We must have spent about three hours here, by accident really.
After we were properly fueled, the day continued with a City Bus Tour (insisted upon by yours truly—I have a shameful, yet unapologetic desire to take at least one city tour in every new city I visit), followed by an informal walking tour of Edinburgh Castle, the Old City, and shopping on The Royal Mile.
Throughout the afternoon, I was particularly enthusiastic about the typography and signage around the city, not mention, the medieval-style architecture of the historic town. The city is, quite notably, dimensional, and when you walk down the street, you can’t help but feel totally immersed in the spatiality of the city. The streets are windy and narrow, and everything has a certain formal architectural quality that is hard to ignore.
FUN FACT: As you might know, J.K. Rowling wrote her famous Harry Potter series books in Edinburgh and was undoubtedly inspired by the unique city’s presence, culture, and architecture. Even the abundance of pigeons flying back and forth over the streets, from rooftop to rooftop, felt like an obvious reference to the messenger-ing owls from the books.
Our favorite beer stop in town was Brewdog—I’d definitely recommend this if you like craft beers. We actually stopped by this pub a few times throughout the week. They have great pizza too.
Monday, July 11
The Glasgow Day
When we arrived in Glasgow, we walked from the train station to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. On our way there, we stopped at a pub for lunch and an afternoon beer. It was a tiny establishment with one thing on the menu for lunch: meat pie and beans. Perfect, it was a great small lunch to keep us fueled up for the rest of the afternoon. Onward to the museum, home of architect/designer, Charles Rennie MacIntosh, and designers/artists, the Macdonald sisters collection along with other famous pieces, Dali’s Jesus, Glasgow boys paintings, natural science/history of Scotland.
After we returned to Edinburgh, we met back up with Aline and Shane for dinner and drinks at The Jolly Botanist—a gin bar in Haymarket area of the city. Did I mention, gin is my favorite.
Tuesday, July 12
The Hiking Day
Scotish breakfast at home—haggis and scrambled eggs, yum.
We began the day with a hike to Arthur’s Seat. The summit is 251 meters high, located in the heart of the city, and offers some of the best views of Edinburgh, as it sits on top of the highest group of hills that make up Holyrood Park.
After the hike, we walked back down to the city shops on the Royal Mile. Aline bought some clothes from a boutique shop. I found a handmade ring and watch that I bought from local artists.
FUN FACT: We averaged between eight and ten miles per day walking, which is good, considering our family is big on eating and drinking, especially amplified when on vacation.
We finished the day with drinks and dinner at Nobles Cafe. We tried “black pudding.” It was really good until I found out what it was. If you don’t know, google it.
Wednesday, July 13
The Morningside Day
Thursday, July 14
The Ferry Ride Day
Today was a day trip to Inchcolm Abbey. This may have been one of my favorite outings, perhaps because first, it was an absolutely gorgeous day in Edinburgh, and clear and sunny days are rare in Scotland, and second, because we had an outdoor activity planned that included a ferry ride (with beers) on the water.
SIDE STORY: Edinburgh is a great place to visit in the middle of the summer. The days are long; sunrise is at 6 AM and sunset is close to 11 PM. But, it rains almost every day and it is common to experience gray, overcast days with light rain misting. It is a good idea to wear a light rain jacket every day as you adventure around the city.
We traveled to North Bridge, a famous engineering feat.
Dinner at the Indian restaurant, Mother India.
FUN FACT: Scotland and India have a long multicultural history, and in so fact, you can get some of the best Indian food in the world in Scotland.
Friday, July 15
The Shopping Day
Our last day in Edinburgh, the rain had returned, but all was good because today was the shopping day for souvenirs.
Saturday, July 16
The Return Day
Our trip abroad came to a close. Ray and I caught a bus from my sister’s place back to the airport. Did I mention, public transit in Edinburgh is super easy and accessible. We made it to the airport, and caught our flight back to Chicago, and finally Memphis. It was a great trip, and although there is never enough time to do everything, I can really say, Edinburgh, it was been a real pleasure getting to know you.
SIDE STORY: Some plans on the to-do list that didn’t happen due to time include Pentland Hills Park, the William Wallace Monument in Stirling (Braveheart), a Portabella Beach trip, and The Highlands.