A couple of weeks ago, we took a flying visit to Edinburgh – somewhere I’ve only previously visited for the day, back in 2002.
In August last year, when the Covid cases were really low and none of us thought there could be a second wave of the virus, let alone a third, we booked a holiday for four (my eldest chooses not to go on holiday with us) to Vienna. We wanted a city break for the summer that wasn’t too hot. We went to Nice in the summer a couple of years ago and, although we loved it, we found it too hot!
But then we all know what happened with Covid. We thought about cancelling that holiday so many times and we thought the travel company would cancel it. In the end, we cancelled it just over a month before we were due to go. It may be that we were actually allowed to go, as the adults are double vaccinated, but we really didn’t want to take the risk. We certainly didn’t want to isolate either. I understand that some people have no choice eg for visiting family they haven’t seen for a long time, but we didn’t want to isolate for the sake of a five day holiday.
In June, my husband went to Edinburgh for a couple of days for work. He’s actually been to Edinburgh quite a bit for work and knows the city pretty well, so he suggested we go for a short break there instead. Vienna was going to be Monday to Friday, but we did Edinburgh just Tuesday to Thursday. By this time, my younger son had accepted an invitation to go on holiday to the Highlands of Scotland with his best friend’s family and a few other friends, so it was just the three of us who went in the end.
We did it very cheaply – flying on EasyJet from Birmingham to Edinburgh. We realised we couldn’t get our luggage into the tiny cabin bags allowed on EasyJet, so we did have to check one case into the hold. We stayed at a Premier Inn Hub hotel on Rose Street, right in the centre of the city. A Hub hotel has very tiny functional rooms – a double bed hemmed in on three sides with storage underneath and a TV on the wall. There is a tiny bit of hanging space and a tiny bit of floor. Some of the rooms didn’t even have proper windows. It’s not somewhere you would want to stay for long, but it’s clean and very modern (lots of plug and USB sockets, and controls for the lighting and air conditioning on a panel behind the bed). It also cost £30 for a night! (Not including breakfast.)
Edinburgh is a really beautiful city with stunning buildings all in pretty much the same style, generally built in the 19th century.
We always walk a lot on holiday and Edinburgh was no exception. It is a very hilly city and I don’t think there’s a hill or set of steps we didn’t walk up during our flying visit. It was while walking around that we stumbled across my favourite part of Edinburgh – Calton Hill. Calton Hill has a collection of historic monuments on the top and you can also see for miles across Edinburgh and beyond. It’s a great place to take photos.
I’ve loved pandas since I was a child and have wanted to see the pandas at Edinburgh Zoo forever. We weren’t particularly interested in seeing anything else, so we headed straight for the pandas. The male panda, Yang Guang, was asleep. It was exciting to see him, but I was a little underwhelmed after waiting for so long to see one. I wandered off with my daughter to see the giraffes and my husband stood guard by the panda. An hour later, his patience was rewarded and we all got to see Yang Guang wake up. He then climbed off his frame and ran down into his house to eat bamboo. So we sprinted down the hill to watch. The whole thing was magical.
I had really wanted to go to the castle, but it was fully booked. We wandered up as close as we could get though. My daughter wanted to go to the art gallery, which was also fully booked! We ended up visiting the Royal Yacht Britannia, just because it wasn’t fully booked, and I found it more interesting than I expected to.
When we visited, Covid restrictions were still much stricter than they are in England, with masks indoors everywhere and lots of reminders about social distancing. By the time you read this, social distancing rules will have been lifted, but masks will still be required.
We discovered the joy of the Uber for the first time in our lives – getting from the airport, to and from the zoo, and to and from Britannia by Uber. With three of us, it worked out no more expensive than public transport and was a lot quicker and more efficient.
I absolutely loved our flying visit to Edinburgh. It really is a beautiful city and I would definitely like to go back and spend a bit more time there.