Edinburgh Journals

Endlessly Fascinating Edinburgh

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A March 2006 trip to Edinburgh by artslover

David Hume, St. Giles on the Royal Mile Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland More Photos
Quote: After five trips in 4 years, we still have not exhausted what we would like to experience in Edinburgh.

Endlessly Fascinating Edinburgh

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Overview

Edinburgh Castle Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
We have friends and an adult child in Edinburgh, so we have made repeated visits to this beautiful city. Edinburgh has many attractions, but after five visits we have yet to do them all. This is a review of some of the things we have seen and done. For a lover of history, architecture, and culture, Edinburgh has to be one of the greatest cities in the world to visit. The population is about 600,000 and like Rome, it is built on seven hills. The sea and the hills confine the city to a concentrated area. This makes Edinburgh a very easy city to get around. There are signs of history and culture everywhere. Edinburgh is the birthplace of David Hume, Adam Smith, and other founders of ...Read More

The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

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Hotel | "Caledonian Hilton"

The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Caledonian (or Caley as the locals call it) is a landmark red sandstone hotel on the west end of Princes Street in Edinburgh's New Town. It is now run by Hilton. Because of its status, and the rumour that Sean Connery likes to stay there when he is in town, we had to give it a try.Booking the hotel can be done on the Internet, which makes it very convenient. It also gives you the opportunity to compare prices. By paying in advance we were able to get a reasonable, but not cheap, rate. The price was lower than the Scotsman, the Balmoral, the Sheraton Grand, other luxury hotels in Edinburgh.The exterior of this hotel (built at the beginning of the 20th century) is very grand, reflect...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 4, 2006

The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Princes Street
Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland EH1 2AB
+44 (131) 2228888

Bar Roma

Restaurant

Quote:
Bar Roma is located in New Town, just off the west end of Princes Street. The restaurant is large, and bright when the daylight shines in through the windows and gleams off the chrome. It is a very comfortable place to take children, although the crowd is a mixture of old and young people, couples, and families. The atmosphere is lively with all the people and the young energetic waiters.The huge menu has the full range of Italian fare from pizzas, pastas, to some very good classics like veal. Our large group seemed to sample most of it and everyone was satisfied. Both the pizzas and the pastas were particular favourites. The appetizers are a bit pricey. This is better than average fa...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Bar Roma
39A Queensferry Street
Edinburgh, Scotland
+44 0131 226-2977

Dubh Prais

Restaurant

Dubh Prais Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
If you think you would like to try haggis, my first recommendation would be to try it at Dubh Prais. The restaurant serves it as a appetizer with a creamy whisky sauce. It is excellent. We have it every time we visit.Dubh Prais is located midway down the Royal Mile. If you aren't looking for it, you might miss it. A sign with a black pot (which is what Dubh Prais means in Gaelic) identifies the restaurant, which is located down a set of stairs. Only eight tables are available, so a reservation is a good idea. The basement location without windows is offset by the decorations all on a Scottish theme and the painted walls featuring Scottish historical characters. The restaurant i...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Dubh Prais
123b High St
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1SG
+44 131 557 5732

Forth Inn

Restaurant | "Forth Floor"

Forth Inn Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The restaurant is on the fourth floor of Harvey Nichols store (Harvey Nicks to the locals). The spelling of Forth is not an error, but a signal that you will be provided with dramatic views from the Firth of Forth to the Edinburgh castle. The huge windows and plentiful, but discreet, lighting give the space a light airy feel. The food is also impressive. The finest Scottish ingredients are artfully fused with Mediterranean and Far Eastern ingredients. We sampled delicious starters of seared Oban scallops with heather honey glaze, and smoked salmon with pine nuts. Non-seafood choices for mains include braised oxtail flavoured with Glayva and rosemary, and duck with sautéed foie gras. M...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Forth Inn
Center of Aberfoyle
Edinburgh, Scotland

Henderson's

Restaurant

Quote:
One time we arrived in Edinburgh at 7am and were looking for breakfast at 8:00am. Not much was open except Henderson's. It has a number of different parts: a health food shop upstairs, a bistro also upstairs, and the Salad Table is downstairs. There's also a wine bar downstairs. The Salad Table is where breakfast was served, cafeteria style. You pick up a tray and move along the serving area to see what is offered. Fruit, baked goods, juices, tea, and coffee you pick up yourself. Some of us asked for hot porridge or eggs and it was prepared and brought to our table. The food was good. Many locals rave about the lunch and dinner but we have never tried it. We were just thankful for a place fo...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Henderson's
94 Hanover Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 1DR
44 131 225 2131

Tower Restaurant and Terrace

Restaurant | "Tower Restaurant"

Tower Restaurant and Terrace Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Tower Restaurant, on top of the Museum of Scotland, is owned by the same owner as the Witchery by the Castle. Like that restaurant, this one also looks spectacular. But instead of castle-like, the Tower is sleek and modern with tweed banquettes, suede and brushed aluminum chairs, and velvet hangings. When the weather permits, there are tables on the terrace. And there is also a great view. The space is long and all the tables have a view out the window, although some have better views of the Castle than others. Despite the style, the feel is informal and comfortable. Our children did not feel surrounded by adults, although they were.The menu is Scottish with some Mediterranean influenc...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Tower Restaurant and Terrace
The Museum of Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1JF
+44 131 225 3003

The Witchery by the Castle

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Restaurant | "Witchery by the Castle"

The Witchery sign Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Witchery by the Castle has two distinct settings. There is the original, low ceiling, tapestry walled dining room, and the Secret Garden with its high ceiling and arched windows. Both have the same menu. Each can make for a romantic setting for dinner. Located barely a step away from Edinburgh Castle, you may want to decide which room you want before making a reservation—you will need a reservation. Despite the very high prices, it is a very popular spot.The menu is French with a wide range of choices, and the wine list could take a year to read. We dined as a group of eight and the service was impeccable, although not particularly friendly. We had no complaints about the food—ve...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

The Witchery by the Castle
Castlehill The Royal Mile
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2NF
+44 (131) 225 5613

Grain Store

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Restaurant | "The Grain Store"

Grain Store Photo,
Quote:
The Grain Store is located in the Grassmarket area just south of Edinburgh Castle. The streets are full of old buildings tightly crowded together. If you aren't looking, you can easily walk past the door for the Grain Store. The door is on street level, but the restaurant is located on the upper level of Victoria Street, next to the arched elevated walkway of Victoria Terrace.The Grain Store used to be storage for the shops below. You walk up a nondescript stairway and into the restaurant, which consists of a number of small stone walled, huge timbered rooms. They still retain the feeling of an ancient building. At nighttime, the lighting is very subdued, which adds to the private and pote...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 8, 2006

Grain Store
30 Victoria Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 2JW
+44 131 225 7635

Arthur's Seat

Attraction | "Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags"

Arthur's Seat Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Arthur's Seat is the peak of an extinct volcano. The nearby cliffs are called Salisbury Crags. They are located east of Edinburgh Castle, south of the city centre, and near the main campus of the University of Edinburgh. It is a very popular walk because getting to the top gets you a great view of the city and the surrounding area.There are any number of ways to start a walk. Most people park in the lot by Holyrood Palace and start on the walk nearby. We started from the other side in the village of Duddingston. There is parking available near Duddingston Loch. The walk is relatively easy until the very end. Depending on your route, you may pass by one of the three lochs around Arthur's Seat. ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Arthur's Seat
Salisbury Crags
Edinburgh, Scotland EH16

Cafe Royal Bistro Bar

Attraction | "Cafe Royal"

Cafe Royal with Calton Hill in the background Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Even if pubs are not your favourite places, a visit to Cafe Royal is worth the viewing. It is a model of Victorian elegance with a central circular bar, wood panelled walls, and an ornately carved wooden fireplace with a huge mirror above. On one wall there are painted tiled panels, nearly 8 feet high, depicting famous inventors. The plaque states, “These six pictures painted by John Eyre and manufactured as tiles by Katherine Sturgeon and W J W Nunn of Doulton and Co. All show inventors each at the moment of his discovery. The pictures were shown at the 1886 exhibition, held at the Meadows in Edinburgh and purchased as tiles by an early licensee.” The leather seating adds to the ambiance. When we...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Cafe Royal Bistro Bar
17 West Register Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 2AA
+44 131 557 4792

Calton Hill

Attraction

Calton Hill Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Calton Hill is located at the east end of Princes Street. It is instantly recognizable as the hill with what was intended to be a Parthenon, like the one in Athens. It was started in 1816 after Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo, but never finished. It is called the National Monument, sometimes it is called Edinburgh's shame, but it is a great place for a view of the city.Getting to the top of Calton Hill is really a walk rather than a hike. Calton Hill is easily accessed and less strenuous than a climb up Arthur's Seat, another good spot for a great view. To get to Calton Hill, we walked to the east end of Princes Street and climbed about 5 minutes from the staircase at Waterloo Place. It is ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Calton Hill
Regent Road
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 3DG
+44 131 200 2000

Edinburgh Zoo

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Attraction

Quote:
The Edinburgh Zoo is about 3 miles west of the city centre, accessible by bus, taxi, or car. It is located on a hillside that makes the visit, like much of Edinburgh, an exercise in hill climbing.Admission is charged. For a family of four, it was 15 pounds.The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland runs the zoo. There is information and displays about conservation of wildlife. Although it seems small compared to the San Diego and Calgary zoos, it has a number of animals, including snow leopards, white rhinos, and pygmy hippos. We walked, some of us ran, but if you don't want to hike around the inclined zoo walkways, there is a small tour bus with a guide.What made the visit...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Edinburgh Zoo
134 Corstorphine Road
Edinburgh, Scotland EH12 6TS
+44 131 334 9171

National Museum of Scotland

Attraction | "Museum of Scotland"

National Museum of Scotland Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Museum of Scotland is housed in a modern building in Edinburgh's Old Town. The access to the building is very well thought out with easy ramps, stairs, and a roomy elevator which announces each floor and its theme in a charming Scottish female voice. Admission is free.The Museum chronicles all aspects of the history of Scotland. Displays are set out so that you walk around one floor, each dedicated to a different period of Scottish history. There are five floors in total. There are also special exhibits with a variety of topics related to the Scottish people and their history. It is very easy to explore the Museum and a visitor will learn a lot even during a short visit. Anyone inte...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1JF
0300 123 6789

Oxford Bar

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Attraction

Oxford Bar Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Fans of mystery writer Ian Rankin know the Oxford Bar as a favourite watering hole of Rankin's character, John Rebus. The Oxford Bar, like many Edinburgh places described by Rankin, actually exists. It can be found in the New Town area along a rather quiet street. Interestingly, the Oxford Bar is a few doors away from the Cambridge Bar.The interior of the Oxford Bar is very utilitarian—no plush furniture or fancy decorations. Posters for theatre and sporting events are all that adorn the wall. Bare wooden tables and chairs are available in the rather small two-room establishment. The place always seems crowded. I had the impression that most of these people were locals, with a few very obvio...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

Oxford Bar
8 Young Street
Edinburgh, Scotland
+44 (0) 131 539 7119

National Portrait Gallery

Attraction | "Scottish National Portrait Gallery"

National Portrait Gallery Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Gallery building alone is worth a quick visit. Made out of red sandstone, with turrets and statuary adorning the exterior, it looks like a Gothic castle but was built in Victorian times.Inside is also castle-like, with wide staircases and mural paintings on the walls. Admission is free.Like the National Portrait Gallery in London, the paintings and sculptures are often important for the sitter rather than the quality of art. But some good art is to be found, including many Raeburns, and some Reynolds. Portraits of key historical figures make up most of the collection. There is a particular emphasis on the Scottish royalty, but you can find some contemporary portraits including Sir ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 1JB
+44 131 624 6200

St. Giles' Cathedral

Attraction | "St Giles Cathedral"

St. Giles' Cathedral Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
St. Giles Cathedral, or the High Kirk, is located on the Royal Mile. From the outside, it captures the eye because of the crown like spire. But its real importance lies in its history. A church has stood on its location for almost a thousand years. The current cathedral dates back to 1495. John Knox, the founder of the Scottish reformation preached at St. Giles.It does not take long for a visit but since it is free, it is well worth the time. The interior is filled with statues, stained glass, memorials, and beautiful small chapels. I like to look up to admire the ribs on the vaulted Gothic ceiling. If you want to take longer, the staff are full of stories about the history of the ch...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2006

St. Giles' Cathedral
High Street, Royal Mile
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1RE
+44 131 225 4363

Holyrood Palace/Palace of Holyroodhouse

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Attraction | "Holyrood Palace"

Holyrood Palace/Palace of Holyroodhouse Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Holyrood Palace, sometimes called Holyroodhouse, is the Queen’s official residence when in Edinburgh. On one trip to Edinburgh, we could not go to visit Holyrood because one of the members of the royal family was in residence at "the wee house" as one server at a restaurant explained. A visitor may want to check that Holyrood is open before visiting. Admission includes an audio tour. We opted not to use the audio tour since our knowledge of Scottish history is fairly good, but those who haven't read up on Scottish history, especially Mary Queen of Scots, might find the audio tour informative.The Palace is located at the east end of the Royal Mile and is very accessible from the city centre.The Palace ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 8, 2006

Holyrood Palace/Palace of Holyroodhouse
The Royal Mile
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 8DX
+44 (131) 556 5100

National Museum of Scotland

Attraction | "Royal Museum (The)"

National Museum of Scotland Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
The Royal Museum of Scotland sits next to the new Museum of Scotland. The older building and the new building are connected. While the Museum of Scotland focuses on Scotland's history, the Royal Museum is a more eclectic collection of art and artifacts from around the world, although mostly Europe.The space itself is wonderful. You enter into a light-filled ground floor that rises three stories up. Except for special exhibits, no admission is charged. The ground floor has a simple cafe, an area for children's activities, and pools with fish. It can be very soothing just to sit and gaze around. At the far end is the Millennium Clock, a fascinating sculpture and mechanical piece created for th...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 8, 2006

National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1JF
0300 123 6789

Valvona & Crolla

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Attraction | "Valvona & Crolla"

Valvona & Crolla Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Valvona & Crolla is described as a specialty food and wine shop, but that hardly describes what delights can be found in the shop. They have two, one on Elm Road and one on Multrees Walk, both in New Town. The Elm location is the original. The Multrees location opened in late 2004. The Elm location has a small restaurant at the back. The Multrees has a larger restaurant on the upper floor, with a wine bar and deli on the ground level.The overall orientation of the place is Italian, but the foods and wine includes much more than Italian. In the Elm location, which I particularly recommend, there are specialty items, like Italian soft drinks, chocolates, baskets of fresh baked breads, and an i...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 8, 2006

Valvona & Crolla
19 Elm Row
Edinburgh, Scotland EH7 4AA
+44 131 556 6066

Rosslyn Chapel

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Attraction

Rosslyn Chapel Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Rosslyn Chapel is located outside of Edinburgh. You can take a bus but we decided to get there by taxi. Six of us took what the Scottish call a people carrier, what North Americans call a mini van. With that number, the cost of the taxi (about £20) was competitive with the bus and much more convenient.The drive from downtown Edinburgh to the village of Rosslin was less than 30 minutes. Numerous signs point to the village and once at the village, further signs point to Rosslyn Chapel.Rosslyn Chapel is a fascinating structure which has become a greater tourist attraction because of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code novel. Building of the Chapel started in the 15th century and the full planned version was never ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 11, 2006

Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel Trust
Edinburgh, Scotland EH25 9PU
+44 131 440 2159

National Gallery of Scotland

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Attraction

National Gallery of Scotland Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Any art lover should visit the National Gallery of Scotland. The National Gallery is relatively modest in size but immense in its collection and its importance.The gallery is located in the Princes Street Gardens in the heart of Edinburgh. Its sandstone exterior is a beautiful classical architectural design. The main entrance is a modest door along the street heading up to the Mound. Inside there is a coat check with a staff who will ask you to check large bags or backpacks. No photography is allowed.Likely because of its long history and generous patrons, the National Gallery has a significant number of old masters' works. Viewing the permanent collection on display can easily be ...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 20, 2006

National Gallery of Scotland
The Mound
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 2EL
+44 131 624 6509

Jenners Department Store

Attraction | "Jenners"

Jenners Department Store Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland
Quote:
Jenners is to Edinburgh what Harrods is to London. If pressed for time to shop, almost anything you want can be found at Jenners department store from toys, household items, clothing and furniture. On a street corner of Princes Street across from the Sir Walter Scott monument, Jenners is centrally located. The store is actually two buildings, which makes it confusing when inside because hallways connect one building to the other and they are not always level. For a visitor, the wide selection of various itmes makes it a good place to find souvenirs. There is a souvenir shop area. It carries the Edinburgh Monopoly game, a favourite of mine. The food floor is particularly g...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 22, 2006

Jenners Department Store
Princes Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 2YG
+44 131 225 2442