From the Vault: Wee Edinburgh Weekend

St. Patrick’s Day weekend, 2013. Turns out Edinburgh is a good a place as any to find a pint of Guinness. Of course, it made it a little more special to take our pint of black gold with a Tunnock’s tea cake on the side. Respect to The Last Drop in the Grassmarket for that lovely treat. 🙂

We ventured to Edinburgh for a little weekend away from London during cold, and as it turned out, a little snowy, March. Upon landing after a slightly delayed flight, we checked into the hotel and headed pretty much immediately in search of a pint. It was a little uphill jaunt from the river through some charming winding back streets to the old town and the Royal Mile. After warming ourselves in a pub with those first pints, we wandered the length of the Royal Mile, ducked inside the cathedral and then popped up to the castle to take in the views. The castle was closing for the evening so we took that as a sign to forage for more beverages.

Enter the Hotel Missoni and bar which became one of our favorite haunts. I think they had me at the bellman wearing a signature zigzag Missoni kilt. At the bar, we ordered one of the special pitchers to share. It was a refreshing combination of gin and fruit juices poured over a single scoop of sorbet. That evening I think we shared two pitchers just to get the merriment rolling. 😉

After an interesting night on the Grassmarket scene, we started our morning with breakfast at the lovely little Southern Cross Café on Cockburn Street.  The place was busy which always bodes well, and had a great little menu of breakfast favorites at reasonable prices. The Southern Cross became our favorite breakfast spot during the trip and it’s a convenient spot for anyone staying in the old town.

Another Edinburgh favorite was The Hanging Bat. About a 15 minute walk from the Grassmarket on Lothian Road, this little bar looked like it could be popped down in the middle of New York City and fit in quite well. Exposed brick, industrial fixtures and big leather sofas furnished the pub and seating areas. The Hanging Bat is a beer lover’s heaven with multitudes of microbrews and do-it-yourself tastings. For £10, you get five tokens to taste half pint sizes of beers of your choice.  The bar staff will give you recommendations and the ideal progression. And you get to take a souvenir glass home with you! The food is an array of gourmet hot dogs and fun sides, with a daily special, one of which when we visited was an Asian flavoured shortrib. Yum. Again, we went back to the Hanging Bat twice, it’s just too good not to!

In addition to touring the castle, we also visited the Edinburgh zoo which was lovely and quiet in the cold March snow. Back in the center, we strolled the charming pubs on Rose Street and chose the Black Cat for a pint, a wee dram and a Scotch pie.  Our final evening was spent at a lovely dinner at Howies on Victoria Street, our most posh meal of our time in Edinburgh.  I can’t say a bad thing about our drink and dining choices in Edinburgh, which is, to be honest, not what I was expecting from Scotland.

Our last morning, we took the underground tour of The Real Mary King’s Close, which, while a bit cheesy at times, gives you a unique glimpse to old Edinburgh in the 1600’s. The most amazing thing is that this part of the old city is completely preserved underneath the new.  You can actually step out into the close and see the homes, doors, windows and imagine the life that was.

I was truly charmed by Edinburgh. It’s a unique city with a rich past so vibrant you feel like you could walk around a corner into the mists and find yourself back in time.  Just watch out for stag dos.

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© Jennifer Konopasek and GoodTravelerKarma, 2014.

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