Though Dan and I tend to be more reclusive when the temperatures drop (since we are spoiled Southern California pansies when it comes to the cold!), we couldn’t pass up a low-season travel deal by Virgin Trains for return trip tickets from London to Edinburgh for only £40 a person that my friend Jamie had told me about, thanks Jamie! Despite our doubts about venturing to even more Northerly latitudes in the dead of winter, Dan hadn’t been outside of London since our Berlin trip at the end of November and we were both ready for some new scenery so a low-key weekend trip to Scotland’s capital city was in order.
The train ride from London to Edinburgh is a treat in itself. The eastern route winds through beautiful English countryside and along wave-lashed cliff tops offering up stunning views down onto tranquil and wild stretches of North Sea coast as well as the 14th century ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle as it zips through the eastern Northumberland coast from Alnmouth up past Berwick-upon-Tweed before cutting west toward its final stop of Edinburgh. The further north we chugged, as the train cut inland at times, we rode through patches of snow flurries. It felt like we were in a winter wonderland snow globe!
As we pulled into Edinburgh’s Waverley train station almost five hours later the wet snow flurries were starting to come down a bit more so we piled on our scarves and mittens, pulled out our umbrellas, and braved the short, wet walk to the hotel made longer by my starting us off in the wrong direction. Oops! Blame it on my brain being frozen cold.
The cold weather followed us all weekend as we stopped for raspberry hot chocolate and cupcakes at Mimi’s Bakehouse (yum!), hiked our way up to the top of Calton Hill for panoramic views of The Royal Mile, wandered through the 17th century hidden underground of the Real Mary King’s Close, climbed up the dizzyingly narrow staircase of the Scott Monument for the best view of Edinburgh Castle, checked out the world’s largest private collection of whisky at The Scotch Whisky Experience, explored the historic imposing fortress of Edinburgh Castle, and ate dinner two nights in a row at the same Thai restaurant it was so delicious (Krua Khun Mae, try #21 on the menu!). I’m sure if we had stayed a third night we probably would have gone back again!
Despite the frozen fingers, constant shivering, and second thoughts about heading North in the cold we were awed by the city’s architecture, history, and the area’s unique “crag and tail” geology which forms the stretch of The Royal Mile from the Edinburgh Castle sitting atop an extinct volcano on one end all the way downhill to the Palace of Holyroodhouse on the other end, the official residence of Her Majesty the Queen when she’s in town. Our only regret of the weekend? Not getting to hike up to Arthur’s Seat and not drinking enough whisky to keep the chill away!