Edinburgh Scotland is a gothic visual paradise

Edinburgh Scotland is a gothic visual paradise

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If you didn’t read about our Adventures in Ireland then check it out now. We left Ireland after only 2 1/2 short days and then headed off to Edinburgh Scotland for 3 days.

Have you ever read the book series Outlander by Diana Gabaldon? I’ve read all the books. They are very unique, long and detailed story of a love affair between a Scotish man from the past and a British woman who travels back in time. It’s a mix of historical fiction and fact, romance, time travel, adventure, family, tragedy, and just so much more.

Since I read the first book over 10yrs ago I just knew I had to visit Scotland. Reading this series made me picture, very vividly, the scenery and castles, farms, buildings, people and the culture.

My goal was to see many different parts of Scotland but we really only had a 3 day window to see Scotland at all so we settled on Edinburgh. One day I will go to Inverness and many of the other villages and towns of this beautiful country that I’ve not only read about but seen in shows and movies.

We Again flew to Edinburgh via RyanAir for only $108 for a family of 4. Awesome right?

Upon arriving in Edinburgh, at the butt crack of dawn, we were supposed to go through Customs but apparently they didn’t want to be at work that early so we got to just walk through and skip it. What if we were bad guys or something?You’re welcome Scotland for us being upstanding citizens. It did bug us a bit that this airport was so lax but at the same time, it was super early and we were tired and happy that we didn’t have to wait and get checked  yet again.

We took a train from the airport to the station close to the Cowgate Hostel in Edinburgh (review). One thing I immediately fell in love with was the dark Victorian architecture. It was ominous and gorgeous and so very dark. The buildings were Gothic and unique and I couldn’t get enough of them.

Scott Monument in Edinburgh Scotland
Scott Monument

You need to know that I’m not generally someone impressed by buildings. I don’t stare in amazement. So imagine my own surprise when I was staring at these building with my mouth open.

In England, most of the homes look the same. The buildings and architecture are also a bit of a snoozefest. In Ireland, half of the building were English built and the other half were bland cement and glass block buildings. So, when we saw all the building in Scotland we were in awe. If nothing else, go there for the buildings. Really.

At the train station we again schlepped our bags (we needed to rethink our baggage situation) from the station for a 15 minute walk to Cowgate Hostel. It was in this really odd location on Cowgate street which is beneath the main streets above. Very cool and dark area that had a lot of nightlife. There was easy access to restaurants, shopping, transit, culture and more.

We were too early to check in so we locked up all our bags and went to find some Wifi and Food and to hunker down for the next 4hrs before we could get into our room.

There was a Pret A Manger, think more of a Whole Foods Coffee Shop,  up the street we settled in for about an hour and then got bored. We were in Scotland and only had 3 days to explore it dammit  – so, we got outta there.

On the way there we had stopped at multiple shops and played with the hats and looked at a lot of touristy knick knacks.

My Scottish Gingers
Loch Alex
Robinson Scottish Crest
Robinson Scottish Crest
Robinson Scottish Crest
Shawn really wanted to try on the Kilt
Sherlock Shawn
Sherlock Sam

Shawn and I decided that we each wanted and needed new Luggage. Our bags were killing us. We had too much crap that we were dragging around and needed to part with. Our mission was to find some new carry on back packs so we could toss both our bags (1 Rolling Carry On and 1 large backpack each). On our flight to Dublin we had seen a female Roller Derby team using them and they were the perfect size we were looking for and the girls told us they were also waterproof.

After a LOT of research we found Cabin Zero Backpacks online. They are based in London so we thought we could search Scotland for some bags and avoid getting them mailed to us. We set off on the hunt for these bags.

This is me and my TLS MotherLode Bags that were killing me. The backpack was 4lbs by itself and the rolling bag was 9lbs. Kill me. What in the world was I thinking? I know, they looked so pretty! Check out my review of these eBags

TLS Mother Lode Bags from eBags
TLS Mother Lode Bags from eBags

We could purchase them in a store in London but we found a few stores that might have them near the Ocean Terminal Shopping Center in Edinburgh. We packed up and found the bus that could take us to the big mall on the water. Long story short, there were no bags we could find but we had a lot of fun at the Mall as well as some fantastic Greek food as well as some Turkish treats.

If you have the opportunity to visit this Mall, go to the Food Court area and get the Chicken Gyro. It’s amazing. Shawn, Sam and I each had one and we could eat one every day.

Mr Nicks Chicken Gyro
Mr Nicks Chicken Gyro

I’d say we were there for at least 4hrs so we headed back, by bus, and got in our room.

We all rested for a couple of hours and then headed out to find some dinner. We found a great Italian restaurant and enjoyed our food immensely.

The Next day we slept in – really late. We were just so exhausted from the go go go past few days in Ireland and the traveling that we needed extra sleep.

We had a very late breakfast at The City Cafe around the corner. Excellent food. We loved it so much we went back 2 more times during our short stay.

After we were satisfied and well fed, we ventured off to explore the City of Edinburgh.

Exploring Edinburgh

One thing Shawn loves to do is to jog around a city early in the morning to explore and to get the lay of the land, which he had done that morning.

He likes to be our Tour Guide and find stuff for us all to do.

While on his morning jog he happened upon the top Professional Dance Studio in Edinburgh, just around the corner from our Hostel – how convenient right? He had spoken with the owner and she told him to bring Sam by for Hip Hop Class later that night. When he told Sam about the class at DanceBase he was initially hesitant because so far he hadn’t found any classes that were challenging enough for him thus far in the UK. We told Sam that we were making him go to the class that evening no matter what. Insert a teenage frowny face.

Now, off to our day of exploration. We thought it would be fun to go into all of the thrift stores we could find. In the UK they seem to be on every corner. Each one raises funds for different causes such as heart disease, home for girls, canine groups, etc. There is a cause and store for everything.

Sam is the big shopper in our family and he is the only one who didn’t buy anything. It’s not because we were shopping in Thrift Stores (He LOVES Value Village in the states and had already purchased a shirt at our first housesit in Heywood England) it’s that he had to spend his own allowance and was making sure he loved what he would be buying.

When you are traveling with only 1 carry on and a backpack with all your life possessions, you start getting very selective about what you purchase. If you get something then we have a rule that you need to get rid of something else. It makes you really take stock of what you have and what you want and need. You value your few possession more than if you had a closet full of items.

We had so much fun trying on clothes, shoes and just chatting with the shopkeepers. We must’ve stopped in 20 stores. Of course our favorite store was one that benefited cats & dogs.

Along the way we had found a small park with a ton of pigeons. I forgot to take a picture of the name of the park unfortunately. It was really tiny though and not much to do but sit on one of the 2 benches and chase pigeons. The kids insisted on feeding them. Alex had some Sunflower Seeds in her backpack for a snack so she and Sam started feeding the birds. WATCH THIS VIDEO TO SEE WHAT HAPPENED:

Also, Alex did end up with a bird on her head. The guys walking past her were dying!

Bird landing on and eating off of Alex's head
Bird landing on and eating off of Alex’s head

We pretty much spent the day wandering the city. We went back to our Hostel, had some leftover pizza from the night before and the famdamily took naps while I got in some quiet time working and blogging. They all needed naps.

A few hours later I woke everyone up to get ready to take Sam to dance and to then head out to dinner after he was done.

I stayed behind at the Studio while Sam danced. He was really upset because we were a few minutes late as I messed up the schedule.

If you know anything about our family you know that we are always early or on time. Punctuality is a HUGE thing for us. Sam felt rushed and embarrassed at being late so I promised him I’d stay there while he danced and forced him to go in.

Shawn and Alex went to a pub around the corner to hang out for the next hour.

After class the teacher ran out to find me. She said that Sam was an amazing dancer and thanked me for bringing him to her class. He had a HUGE smile on his face. He later apologized to us for being a butthead and thanked us for making him go. He had a great workout and some fun at the same time.

We then met up with Shawn and Alex and tried to find somewhere to eat dinner. The problem though is that Sam is a minor. Most of the restaurants by our hostel, were pubs. After 8pm kids aren’t alowed in. And, to add insult to injury, if the size of the actual bar where the liquor is served is quite large then that means that children are never allowed inside, sometimes not even in the outdoor sitting area which most of the pubs around us were.

Sam kept apologizing for being too young and we were like DUDE, Chill. We are happy to find a real restaurant. In fact, we found a great Mexican place up the hill that had the best beans and cheese with chips. After dinner and some tequila…and lots of cheesy beans and chips, we headed to our hostel for bed.

2 Chicken Tacos
2 Chicken Tacos
The BEST Beans, Cheese and Chips I've ever had in my life.
The BEST Beans, Cheese and Chips I’ve ever had in my life.

Later that night Shawn was restless. He wanted me to go out to the Pubs with him but I was pooped. So, I sent him off to have fun and he was so happy he was skipping away. Here are some of the friends he met!

Shawn’s New buddies. All young 20 something Scotsmen.

The next morning we decided that we were going to make it a Harry Potter exploration day and take in the sites.

We had found out that JK Rowling finished some of her books in Edinburgh as well as getting ideas for certain locations and characters there. First though, we started our day at the City Cafe again. Read our review to find out what happened. Shawn decided to take the Ultimate Burger Challenge #FAIL

We paid the bill and headed off to find everything Harry Potter. See our Journey in Pictures below:

Exploring Edinburgh

We walked all through town and in public squares. Shawn participated in the longest and worst street ‘art’ performance known to man. it was super bad. If you ever see this guy on the street, keep walking.

Bad Street Art Performer

Then we came across this little fella and Sam HAD to participate because I made him!

Then I met THIS lady.

Elaine Davidson Guinness World Record holder for most piercings

This tiny and colorful woman is Elaine Davidson, the Guinness world record holder of piercings. She actually has 10,000 as I write this. Well, she had a little booth on the streets of Edinburgh where she has her world record poster AND that says she reads palms. I was sold. I’ve always wanted to get mine read and this lady seemed like a character if nothing else. I asked her if she was good at reading palms and here’s where I should’ve actually trusted her. She said No! I laughed and went forward.

While I was getting my palm read Shawn and Alex were researching her. Turns out that she does have the piercing record. BUT, there is no mention of her special skills. She also was naked showing her piercings and they are mostly in her nether regions. Anywho, I paid for an experience but nothing else. People kill me. I should read palms. I could do a better job I think. Basically I paid for this picture enjoy.

Street Art along the way


This is Edinburgh Castle. While we didn’t go in it, it was impressive from below.

Elephant House Cafe
Women’s Room Graffiti all about Harry Potter
Elephant Cafe Books

Frankenstein and his lady love
Frankenstein’s Castle
Sam and the Bagpiper, James, from the Balmoral Hotel. We were hanging out while Shawn and Alex snuck upstairs to suite 552 where JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter. They took video of it but I can’t find it now. They were so excited to not only get up there but to also have taken a photo…
Alex at door 552
A wall display set up outside the JK Rowling Suite at the Balmoral
Cyclops Sam
Diagon Alley inspiration in Edinburgh
Do you know who Greyfriar’s Bobby is? If not, look him up. Here is his grave. Super sweet little fella.

Look at this cute little fella… Greyfriar’s Bobby.

After a VERY long and dark trek around the graveyard we finally found Tom Riddle’s grave. Now, this isn’t the “Real” Tom Riddle from Harry Potter but the name is an inspiration for the book.. Anyway, we had a blair witch experience while trying to film ourselves finding it. That too is unfortunately lost footage. WTH happened to all our digital memories in Scotland? Sounds like a case for Sherlock!

We had SO much fun with our Harry Potter adventures it seemed fitting to end the night in the Cemetery looking for Tom Riddle’s grave. I was the one who found it and was so proud of myself. I googled a video on YouTube because it was pitch dark. We used our camera flashlights and by using the landmarks in the video to find the wall with Tom Riddle’s family stone on it.

What a great night and a wonderful time we had in Edinburgh Scotland. We had wanted to visit so many other places in Scotland and must come back to do so one day.

The next morning we left via Train towards London for our last house sit in the UK – Great Missenden. Wait until you hear about our 3 week stay there.

Our Train went along the Coast of Scotland for the first hour or two. It was GORGEOUS. The views were just stunning. I was so happy we didn’t fly back to London.

If you have any questions about our stay in Edinburgh let me know. I always love to hear from you!

Beautiful coastline views while taking the train from Edinburgh to London


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