Edinburgh trip – boats and (more) booze

BrittainiaWhilst trying not to fall asleep in our Nandos last night, we came up with a plan for our second day.  We figured out which bus would take us to the Royal Yacht Brittainia over by the Ocean Terminal in Leith, so we walked over to the stop pretty much as soon as we got up.  Bizarrely, Ocean Terminal is a mall, and we weren’t really expecting that much from the Yacht – what other royal attraction can you get to through a mall?  After a quick breakfast in the mall, we went up to the entrance, grabbed our free audio commentary handset (take that, Edinburgh Castle) and entered the yacht at the bridge.

We then spent absolute hours wandering around this fascinating ship and I loved every freaking second.  The yacht was decommissioned in 1997 but has since been lovingly taken care of and anyone can visit – there is so much of it open to the public.  You start at the bridge and the deck, then go down through the state apartments – the Queen and Price Philip’s bedrooms, their sunroom, their drawing and living rooms – and then further into the ship where you can walk through the crew quarters.  We visited the crew bunks, their pubs, doctors/hospital rooms and the laundry.  It was amazing to visit the rooms where so much history has taken place.  You end up at the bottom of the ship in the engine room, which was sparkly clean.

Best of all, they have a really nice tea room on board.  We were there at about 11.55 so couldn’t resist the opportunity to have lunch where the royal family enjoyed buffets, so I had a caesar salad and Husband had a salmon sandwich.  We had such a great table as well, right next to the window overlooking the dock, and the service we received was impeccable.

I was very sad to leave the yacht, and would love to go back again.  And also, I want them to recommission it so I can go on a cruise.

We had a quick whirl around the shops in Ocean Terminal, tried to find Husband some new trainers and failed, and then decided to get the bus back to Princes Street for some more shops.  We did eventually find the trainers he wanted, and got talking to a really nice half-Maltese sales assistant who looked quite like Husband (who has Maltese ancestry).  They could have been brothers.  We escaped the crowds up by walking along George Street, and then decided to go back to the hotel.  We’d seen that they were offering cocktails and cupcakes in the very swish Monboddo Bar.  Who would say no to this?

Cocktails&CupcakesI had a Bramble, can’t remember what Husband had, mainly because I got drunk off my ass.  I am such a ridiculous lightweight.  A short nap followed, of course, and we then decided to take advantage of the other dining option in our hotel, the Bread Street Brasserie.  This was really nice, and more alcohol followed (for Husband, I’d had enough).  Again, the staff were so polite.  Nothing like the wait staff we get in London.

The next morning, we made our way back to the south.  We didn’t have much time left in Edinburgh, so after a leisurely breakfast in Bella Italia on the Royal Mile, we soaked up some sunshine in Princes Street gardens whilst listening to a bagpiper playing the Star Wars theme tune.  No really.

Princes St GardensThe journey home felt like it took forever, and were got stuck in Newcastle for about half an hour because of signal failure.  We got home at about 8pm, and whilst I was sad to have left Edinburgh, it was nice to be back home.

Edinburgh Trip – sweet potatoes and strippers

Thistle“I’m thinking of taking a week off before the crazy rush starts” I said to Husband at the end of May.  It’s true – I don’t get to take any leave from July to October as this is our insanely busy period, so I like to start with a week at home doing nothing.  Build up my energy to battle the summer.

“Great idea!”  Husband replied.  “Let’s go to Edinburgh!”

It wasn’t on my list (which consisted largely of ‘sitting around in my PJs’), but why the hell not.  So we scoured the internet for some good hotel deals, found literally nothing, and settled on the somewhat above budget Doubletree Hilton.  We booked the cheaper travel option – a 4.5 hour train journey from Kings Cross – and after leaving the house at 8am on Sunday morning, we found ourselves all checked in and eating our complimentary warm cookie by 4pm.

We had a view of… some crappy buildings which was a little disappointing, but the room was so quiet that we really didn’t mind.  Plus, we could pretend we were on an exclusive floor as the top floor was just for Hilton rewards programme members (allegedly).  VIP!

I was feeling pretty yucky from the train, which was a perfectly decent journey and didn’t feel that long at all, so I quickly jumped into the bath.  Grime free, we wandered out into a slightly overcast but humid Edinburgh to find some dinner.

As we walked towards Grassmarket, the area seemed familiar which was odd as I’ve never been to Edinburgh before but I soon realised why.  I had seen this area on a Channel 4 documentary about strippers – LOVELY!  The area is “home to three lap-dancing bars: the highest concentration of strip clubs anywhere in the UK”.  In all honesty, yes it felt seedy but we weren’t too worried.  It might have been different if we were there at a weekend, but if it wasn’t for the neon, you wouldn’t even know they were there on a week day.

Edinburgh CastleThis photo is a slight lie as it was taken the second day, but this is the view we had of Edinburgh Castle from around our hotel.  It was a little surreal looking up and seeing it there!  We decided to visit the next day, but for now, on to the pub.

We folded ourselves into a corner of the Holyrood 9A.  Husband had a porter, I had my usual soft drink, and we both had yummy burgers.  The sweet potato fries I had were amazing and I slightly regret not ordering five portions, but if I had done that, I wouldn’t have had space for the Chockabocker Glory sundae.  Heavenly.  I fell in love with the silver stag heads on the wall and decided I wanted to put them up at home, give our living room a Hannibal feel.  I loved this pub, and all the staff were super friendly.  It was the first of many great customer service experiences.

We waddled back to the hotel room (passed the strip clubs) and back to the hotel where we sunk into the dreamy mattress for a peaceful night sleep.