It was the morning of my first full day which brought the sincere satisfaction of only having to cater to myself. After arriving into Edinburgh around 4:30 the afternoon before, I'd dropped my bags off, gone for a wander and then happily waited for a table at Dishoom (mattar paneer is the stuff of dreams), but it wasn't until the next morning, with a full day of unconstrained freedom stretching about before me, that I truly got to appreciate why travelling alone is so enjoyable. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to see but nothing too rigid, so after a cuppa and a biscuit and a delightfully long shower, I walked to the Royal Botanic Gardens to do what probably nobody other than my Mum and Nan would want to do with me: spend hours looking at flowers. And it was bliss! So peaceful. I took hundreds of photos I didn't need to take, ate the cheese baguette I'd packed in my bag like a proper tourist, read signs about flower genera and perused the rhododendron exhibition taking place in Inverleith House, all of which I'd likely have hurried myself along with had I been in the company of another.
I ate my first ever oyster (slimy and salty but would eat again)! Read lots, watched a lot of Brooklyn Nine Nine in the evenings as I discovered I don't much enjoy drinking beyond two or so glasses of wine. That in itself was a revelation for me; I'm much less inclined to drink myself into drunkenness when I'm alone - I even bought a bottle of good wine ('good wine' being universally accepted as anything above £7) to enjoy in the apartment and ended up tipping it down the sink when I left. I love getting up and out in the morning so I wanted to feel fresh, to let my feet guide me and embrace that sense of hope and possibility that the beginning of a day brings, at least before it's weighed down by the general luggage of living.
For the most part, that's what I did: walked. Walked a lot. Around New Town, Old Town, Stockbridge and the West End. I walked myself in circles, not planning where I was going beyond the impulsive instinct of whatever I wanted to do in that particular moment. Despite the rain, which, to be frank, I would have been disappointed had Scotland not delivered on, it was so peaceful. I didn't need to please anybody else other than myself, didn't need to compromise on plans or meet halfway on where to eat or what to do or when to go back or which way was best. If I was tired I stopped. If I wanted to keep exploring, I did. It was that simple. And I felt bizarrely confident being alone, particularly at dinner. Two of the three evenings I spent propped up at the bar, small plates of burrata, sourdough, cured fish, mushrooms and truffles making their way to me while I read. I tried a Negroni for the first time: not my favourite but I'd order another. I let a stranger finish off one of the small plates I couldn't - sharing is caring and all that. I also smoked a fair few cigarettes on the front step of my apartment building because I was on holiday and nobody could stop me. Nobody could stop me! Why haven't I travelled alone sooner?
Anyway, you get the general gist of the trip: walking, eating, resting, reading, taking a thousand photographs of scenery because it makes me happy and I didn't have to worry about slowing anybody else down. I'll share some of those photos with you now and also list some of the places I visited in case you want to book a little solo trip of your own, plus I'll include a link to the apartment I stayed in which was perfectly located for a first time Edinburgh visitor. Aesthetically pleasing too which always helps.
- Apartment -
Where I stayed: Queen Street apartment, New Town
A studio apartment located only a 10 or so minute walk from Waverley station, this is an ideal little pad for exploring Edinburgh solo or as a pair. Twenty minutes one way was the castle and twenty minutes the other, the Botanic Gardens, plus there were tonnes of cafés, restaurants and shops only a stone's throw away.
Things to note:
- The entry to the building and apartment are both totally keyless, activated instead by a link sent via email. This was great in terms of not needing to check for keys or wondering where I'd put them but I was also especially conscious of my battery power because I needed my phone to be able to return. It's definitely worth taking a cable or portable charger out with you, just incase.
- Hairdryer and shampoo are both provided but no conditioner.
- Tea, coffee and a few sachets of milk are provided.
- There's an iron and an ironing board.
- The apartment boasts these huge, grand, gorgeous Georgian windows, but they aren't particularly soundproof so don't stay here if you're a very light sleeper. I really don't mind street noise but if the sound of engines rumbling early doors will bother you, I'd recommend looking for somewhere else. The hosting company did leave earplugs on both sides of the bed though.
- The kitchenette comes fully stocked with pots, pans, utensils, a coffee press, chopping board, knives etc. There's not a lot of room and there's no oven so I wouldn't go wild cooking up dishes, but there's certainly enough to keep you going for a short trip.
- OUT & ABOUT -
A few things worth doing:
- Wander through Princes Street Gardens for amazing views of the castle up on the hill
- Walk around Stockbridge and back up through Dean Village - pretty streets and more beautiful views (pictured above)
- Check out a few independent shops: Curious & Curioser, Caoba, Red Door Gallery, Skye Candles, An Independent Zebra
- Spend an afternoon in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (free)
- While away a morning at the Royal Botanic Gardens (also free)
- Head up the hill to Edinburgh Castle (not free, book in advance because it's v. busy)
- Visit Victoria Street, famed for it's winding, upward curve of colourful shop fronts and places to eat
- Check out the stained glass windows of St. Giles Cathedral
Food food food:
- Enjoy small plates like aubergine tonkatsu and burrata at Noto
- Tuck into a tasting menu with drinks pairing at family-run Timberyard (I had a fresh raspberry and rose granita dessert here which I'm still salivating over now, SO GOOD. Also everybody who worked here was kinda good looking so that's a plus)
- If you don't live in or near a city that houses a Dishoom, go to Dishoom!
- Invite the delicious joy that is a biscoff latte into your life at The Pantry
- Urban Angel for pricey but tasty coffee to go. Smoothies looked good too
- For easy afternoon snacking and sipping which could and should include a mango Pornstar Martini, head to Rabble
Eggs Florentine @ The Pantry
Biscoff Latte @ The Pantry
- PORTRAIT GALLERY -
- BOTANIC GARDEN -
Not me working up the courage to ask a kind stranger to take a photo of me. GROWTH! Personal growth!