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Monday, 15 April 2013

Life: Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle
It was my birthday last Thursday and my boyfriend and I took a mini break to Edinburgh. I'm always on the look out for a bargain and love making my money go as far as possible. We were therefore very happy when my friend Sharenja told me a about a website called Airbnb (link). Airbnb has quickly become my favourite website followed closely by Trip Advisor and, (a very guilty pleasure), mail online.

For those who haven't discovered it yet, I implore you to check it out. It's basically a huge network where people display their properties or spare rooms from all round the world and you pay to stay there for as long as you like. You just need to state what dates, how many people and whether you want the whole house or just a bed room. The great thing about Airbnb is that the value for money is exceptional. Our stay was cheaper than the local Premier Inn and in a much better location. Plus you have the added benefit of use of the entire place. The reviews previous people leave (detailing their experience of the place/host) mean that you have no worries before you turn up. The properties are also star rated in terms of cleanliness, location etc.

After lots of surfing I selected Calim's place (link). It has a perfect location (on the Royal Mile) literally 10 minutes walk from all of Edinburgh's notable sites. But what really stood out for me, was the incredible decor. You must check out the pics. I think Calim should set up his own interior design place. It was such an eclectic mix of old and new. One thing to note is the bed room. Calim's flat doesn't actually have one - rather it's a 'bed box'. I personally loved it. It brought back memories of my childhood dens. I have real insomnia when staying in places which aren't my home. However, I managed a good eight hours sleep in the 'bed box'. Calim was an exceptionally generous host. He left us milk, fresh bread, conserves, orange juice, tea and coffee. He was also very accommodating in that he allowed us to store our luggage at his on the last day so we didn't have to drag it around with us all day. Calim also has great taste in music, check out Matthew Halsall's latest album (Fletcher Moss Park) for very chilled out, back ground music.

Matthew Halsall - Fletcher Moss Park



Sitting Room

Beautiful Parkay Flooring

Bed Box

We were keen to make the most of our two and half day stay. We went on a ghost tour, which I needed a lot of persuasion to go on. I don't believe in ghosts, but I do get quite easily freaked out about things, so I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to sleep if I saw anything too creepy. Luckily it wasn't too scary. It was fascinating hearing all about the different torture methods that were once used. The picture below shows some of them. Can you guess what they're used for?

Torture Instruments

We also went on a coach tour (another guilty pleasure). We visited Loch Lomond and had a loch boat cruise. Unfortunately, the weather was dreadful and it was hard to see anything!

A cold, misty and wet Loch Lomond

This is me unimpressed by the weather. Martin delights in taking unattractive pics of me.

The more I go on city breaks, the more I realise they're not for me. I really enjoy initially wandering around and eating lots (!), but after that I'm dying to do something a bit more exploratory. As such, we climbed Arthur's seat, a magnificent escarpment, just on the edge of Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat

On the tour we were also supposed to do a tour of Doune Castle (where Monty Python was filmed), but I've visited lots of castles (I'm from Kenilworth and have visited Kenilworth and Warwick castle lots of times), so we went to explore instead. I'm so glad we did. We found a beautiful, bubbling river and spent a happy half hour skimming stones.

Doune Castle

In terms of food and drink, which of course I must mention, we hugely enjoyed cocktails at Bon Vivant, coffee at the Brew Lab, scottish shortbread and fudge. We ate dinner at the Witchery which was unfortunately more style over substance. It has incredible candle lit, medieval surroundings, but my main was awful. It was pumpkin pie and sweet potato chips which in reality consisted of filo pastry filled with hard squares of pumpkin and equally hard sweet potato chips. We enjoyed dinner the following night at Hotel Missoni much more. I ate a delicious ricotta and taleggio ravioli followed by an incredible poached pear, honey comb ice cream and amaretto jelly dessert. 

Poached Pear Dessert

So there concludes a hugely enjoyable stay. Only slightly marred by the disastrous attempt to get home. We took the train up (4 and a half hours journey time) and had decided to treat ourselves to a flight home. However, said flight was more than 4 hours delayed and we ended up getting home at 4am! Wish we'd just got the train. 

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