Sunday, May 10, 2009

Vacation 2009 - day 4

April 24, 2009 - Edinburgh

Up at 4am to get ready and catch a plane to Edinburgh. Dublin airport was crazy - very crowded at 5am and difficult to tell where to go. We got checked in and on the plane fine, in spite of Ryanair's repeated warnings about baggage allowances. No problems on short flight to Edinburgh.

Got to new hotel by taxi. Very helpful taxi driver who gave us some good tips, including a place to hear some live music - Sandy Bell's Pub. The hotel is in a posh location but under renovation. We couldn't check in till after 2pm, so we had them store our luggage while we walked around.

We walked to New Town by a round about route, going a little further north than we needed to. Seems like a nice neighbourhood, and we also saw the Georgian House and some nice views from below of Edinburgh Castle.

There seems like a lot of construction in Edinburgh, much more so than Dublin, as well as a lot of green spaces, most of which without public access. This is the first time I've seen an expansive park with a sign saying "for keyholders only".

After checking in, the new hotel (Royal Terrace) was disappointing. Posh location, but the view is spoiled by scaffolding and everything costs $$$ - no free wifi, laundry is multiple pounds per individual item. The wallpaper was torn and shabby looking, the room is smaller than the one we had in Dublin and the shower doesn't drain properly. This "four star" property doesn't hold up very well when compared to the Harding in Dublin.

After checking in and taking a break, we walked over the hill next to the hotel, Calton Hill, with some great views of the Firth of Forth. For dinner, we walked through parts of Old Town to check out two places - Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling wrote a lot of the early Harry Potter novels) and the Outsider ( a modern fusion restaurant). We chose the Outsider and it was quite good, more expensive than a lot of the local restaurants but still cheaper than most of what we had in Dublin.

After that we walked over to the Grassmarket area to join up with a literary pub tour at a bar called the Beehive. The tour was given by two actors who take oppossing sides about whether the writing life in Edinburgh was sordid and sinful or glorious and pure. It moved from location to location and highlighted some of Edinburgh's famous writers, like Robbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott, and many other I hadn't heard of. It moved through the Old Town and ended in the New Town. Quite good and highly recommended.

(pictures from Edinburgh)

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