We took the train from Whitby, England to Edinburgh, Scotland. Our friend who we traveled with loves first class, so we bit the bullet and paid more for train tickets. The ocean/coastal views were only 10 minutes of the entire trip and first class was actually the LAST leg of the trip, though we paid for 1st class tickets all the way. My recommendation is DON’T pay for 1st class to Edinburgh (price was $69 US dollars each, which included breakfast/drinks, more comfy seats.) We purchased our prepaid tickets online through RailEurope and rode Northern to Edinburgh. Not sure that is the best deal. Sometimes better to pay at train station. Perhaps DO first class on a return trip if you are traveling back to London, but not on the way to Edinburgh. However, you can meet some interesting people, as we met a Member of Parliament on our train. FUN FACT: Our friend Paul’s grandfather, WAS a Member of Parliament. 🙂 We arrived at the Edinburgh-Waverly train station and our hotel was just a block away. Motel One Edinburgh-Royal was very nice, $150 US Dollars per night (booked through Expedia), but worth it as everything was within blocks walking distance, so we didn’t end up having to pay for other transportation.
We immediately got settled and walked up the hill to the Edinburgh Castle and made the last minute decision to pay for entrance. This is not advisable. Always stick to your preplan :). The castle was beautiful to look at from a distance, but not worth the fee to pay to see, in our opinion. We also paid to see Mary King’s Close (we had been told this was a “not to be missed” tour.) This is a preserved “underground” 18th century city. It WAS interesting but not sure we would do it again. So, TIP #1, always remind yourself to research, research before you pay for any “last minute” tours. Plan ahead and look at reviews.
We walked around Edinburgh to the Sir Walter Scott Memorial, which was FREE and FABULOUS!
For dinner, we ate at the oldest gastropub in Edinburgh, The Duric Bar. Our friend Paul, and I, split the Shepherd’s Pie which was to die for. My husband Rick had prawns and ordered an amazing wild mushroom sauce over bread, which we all partook of!
Since we only had two nights in Edinburgh, we made the most of it by walking around town the first evening! TIP #2 – BRING YOUR UMBRELLA. BRING RAIN GEAR, AND PS, I BROUGHT MY RAINBOOTS. WORTH THE EFFORT, I WORE THEM EVERYWHERE!!! The next morning, we had “preplanned” (always preplan!) a well-researched trip with Viator for the West Highlands, Lochs and Castles tour. This was worth every dime! (We prepaid 2 months in advance, $74 each – completely worth it!) Our tour guide, William, was amazing and we visitied Inveraray Castle, the filming sight of Outlander and Downtown Abbey! Inveraray Castle is owned by the Duke of Argyll (Chief of the Clan Campbell), who married the heiress of Cadbury Chocolate. Quite a history!
We also visited remains of a castle and Doune Castle. Doune Castle was the filming sight of Monty Python and Game of Thrones! Both castles were certainly the highlight of the tour!
Our tour lasted most of the day into the evening and then we grabbed some quick grub and crashed at the hotel!
The very next morning, we caught our train to London, parting ways with our best friend, who headed back to Kirkhammerton, and ended our 45 hours in Scotland.
My impressions of Scotland:
- Beautiful accents
- Rainy, cold weather
- Street musicians
- The pride at being a Scot
- The friendliness
- Incredible architecture
- Beauty of the Highlands
No wonder English Royalty has a castle at Balmoral! It’s beautiful!
Oh! and we missed seeing the QUEEN! Seriously?! As we went to Edinburgh’s Castle, the Queen was at the opposite end where we MIGHT have caught a glimpse! Another good reason to plan out your trip! haha