Posts Tagged With: hiking

Edinburgh, Scotland – Things to See and Do in 24 Hours/1 Day

Edinburgh Castle Being a frequent visitor (and admirer) of Edinburgh, I thought that I would be a lovely opportunity to take my mother and grandfather there. Unfortunately, we had a tight schedule to stick to and could only spend a full day in the beautiful old part of Edinburgh. Most travellers I come across either train to Edinburgh for the day, or only get a full 24 hours to spend in the majestic and historic city of Edinburgh. For those who haven’t been and plan to visit Scotland, I highly recommend that you visit Edinburgh as it is one of the most magical and medieval-like cities I’ve ever been too.

HOW LONG SHOULD I VISIT EDINBURGH?

If I’m going to be completely honest, you can see most of the sights and experience a glimpse of the scottish culture in less then two days. I took my family there for the 36 hours before our train to York and we saw most of the touristy sights, as well as some non-touristy things recommended by locals. There are some cities in the world that you couldn’t do in a day: London, Paris, Toronto, etc. However, Edinburgh is among those cities that you could experience in a day or two. If you have the time, I would definitely recommend staying longer, because Edinburgh makes my top 5 most favourite cities in the UK. It has a small town feel (which can be more welcoming and less stressful to get around), and makes you feel like you’ve gone back in time to the medieval era. It’s a majestical and magical little city; not to mention, the capital of Scotland.

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I HAVE A DAY IN EDINBURGH, WHAT SHOULD I SEE?

As my family only had a day in Edinburgh, I constructed  a solid itinerary of things to do and see in Edinburgh for those travellers who are limited of time.

  1. Start with a lovely FREE Tour of Edinburgh! Depending at what time you wake up or arrive in Edinburgh, but a great way to get a feel of Edinburgh and a guided walk of the city is to join the 11am or 2pm FREE tours of Edinburgh. Most cities have these “free” tours, which are one of the best things for those travelling on a budget. These tours are tipped-based, so if you do get a great tour guide, do tip them, because this is how they make a living. These tours can offer a great historical learning experience as most tour guides will delve into the Scottish history while showing you the importance of buildings, monuments and other sights. (To join one of these tours, meet outside the Starbucks on the royal mile before the set time; ask the locals to point you in the right direction if you get lost. It’s in a prime location and is easy to find once you find the royal mile leading up to the Edinburgh Castle.)If you aren’t into history, or don’t find the tour as interesting, don’t be afraid to leave the 2-3 hour tour early. Just inform your tour guide.
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  2. Take a Walk Up The Royal High Mile and Visit St. Giles’ Cathedral Walking up the Royal High Mile is the most historic and scenic route to take in Edinburgh, as it is literally a straight stretch of cobble-stone road that ends at the Edinburgh Castle. The St. Giles’ Cathedral is located on the Royal Mile. The cathedral was on the free tour of Edinburgh, however, if you don’t plan to go on the free tour, do visit this cathedral. If you are into seeing cathedrals, do visit The High Kirk of Edinburgh (formerly named). This cathedral has a very interesting scottish history, and is one of the best cathedrals to see in Edinburgh.
    Royal Mile
  3. Calton Hill If you would like to begin your day with a walk, hike, or some sort of exercise, then head on over to Calton Hill. If you don’t have the time or courage to climb Arthur’s Seat, then do make the effort to hike up Calton Hill. It’s only 10% of the effort to climb (as opposed to climbing Arthur’s Seat), and you get the best view of Edinburgh. There are lots of beautiful arches, towers, buildings and monuments on top of Calton Hill, as well as the most breath-taking view of both the old town, and new town of Edinburgh. *Calton Hill is by far my most favourite place to go to in Edinburgh.*976582_10152851288435032_2065276491_o322722_10152152315010032_1938980750_o
  4. The Elephant House Fancy a place to have lunch or dinner in between sightseeing? Check out The Elephant House on George IV street. This intimate restaurant claims to be “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”, and has lots of articles, quotes and photos of J.K. Rowling on the walls. If you use the toilet here, you will notice that the walls are filled with Harry Potter quotes, sayings and fan messages to JK Rowling; it’s interesting to see all the fans that have visited this restaurant from all around the world. The food isn’t focused on Harry Potter-esque meals, but serves delicious wraps, soups and various meals. It’s always a great place to take a break for lunch, and you may even sit in the same seat that JK Rowling, herself, began writing the idea of Harry Potter.413278_10152152308585032_2017410743_o
  5. The Greyfriars Bobby The Greyfriars Bobby is a very tourist-ie sight and is placed in front of Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar. Basically, the historical story goes as follows: Back in the day, the original owner passed away and his dog wouldn’t leave his side or grave for the longest time: 14 years to be exact. Truly this dog exemplifies the stereotype of man’s best friend. Consequently, they kept the restaurant open in memory of him and have a statue of the dog situated in front of Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar ! If you touch the statue of the dog, it’s suppose to bring you good luck, so make sure you visit this sight in Candlemaker Row, off of George IV Bridge.209951_10152152307530032_1417612011_o
  6. The Edinburgh Castle Be aware that you could spend hours at the Edinburgh castle and all that there is to see, read and experience. However, if you just want to see and experience the castle and skim through the reading, then 2-3 hours should be sufficient. The Edinburgh Castle is one of my favourite castles, and highly recommend that every visitor of Edinburgh should visit. Unfortunately, it is fairly expensive to go inside and see the exhibits (including the Scottish Royal Jewels and most interesting Scottish history), so if you are on a budget, just make sure you snap a picture in front of the beautiful castle and experience the view on both sides of the castle. Absolutely breathtaking.176219_10152152312265032_2134796337_o

By The End of the Night, Go To a Scottish Pub Fancy ending your night in Edinburgh by experiencing a Scottish Pub for food or drinks? In terms of food, I have two recommendations: one is an authentic scottish experience, and the other a delicious alternative.

  1. Grassmarket– This area was recommended to me by one of my best friends who lives in Edinburgh. From a wide selection of scottish cuisine (yes, this includes haggis), to traditional pub food, this area has a variety of scottish restaurants that carry a variety of dishes and authentic experiences for everyone and won’t disappoint.
  2. Kismot – This Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant is probably one of the best restaurants I have ever been to in the United Kingdom (and possibly Europe). With the best, polite and humorous service, Kismot carries some of the most delicious dishes my family or I have ever had. The restaurant is owned and ran by a dedicated and polite family who are known for maintaining the #1 most voted restaurant in Edinburgh, according to TripAdvisor. They don’t believe in serving alcohol in the restaurant, but instead, have a BYOB policy, which is one of the most brilliant ideas for those trying to save money. By a bottle of wine, or bring in your own pints, and enjoy some of the best Bangladeshi/Indian dishes you will ever have with the best, and most friendly service. A MUST for those who want to try something different or craving this type of food. Delicious.469178_10152851294745032_1677450337_o

For those wanting to go for a pint or experience some scottish whisky at a local pub. I have two recommendations based on your type of ‘scene’.

  1. For a younger audience, I love going to the Brass Monkey with my friends. With chill music, reasonably priced drinks, and a chilled atmosphere, this pub is by far my favourite place to go for drinks with my mates. It’s not touristy at all, and overall a great place to chill for those into a hip and chilled scene.
  2. For a mature audience, I would suggest a traditional scottish pub in the Grassmarket, such as The Black Bull or The White Hart Inn! There are many choices to choose from in this area, so venture out and try out a few pubs!

It may only seem like a few things to do and see in Edinburgh, but you will be surprised how fast the time goes when you venture to these sights and restaurants as well as indulge in your first scottish experience in Edinburgh.

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If you have any comments or suggestions about going to Edinburgh (How to get there, where to stay, what else to do, etc.), please leave them in the comment section below!

If you have been to Edinburgh, please let me know what your personal favourite things to do, see and eat! If you plan to visit Edinburgh, what are you most excited to see and do?

Check out the video of my first time in Edinburgh here

Categories: Blog, Edinburgh, Fall, Holidays, Night Life, Scotland, Seasons, Spring, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom, Youtube | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Next Stop: The Lake District

Off to the Lake District! And no, it wasn’t affiliated with the Hunger Games; trust me, I wish it was. With giant, attacking swans surrounding the area, I felt like I was already nominated to be Tribute; but not really.

The Lake District was extremely beautiful. I mean B-E-A-U-TIFUL. It’s one of those places that you really have to spend a nice, long weekend up there to really see as many sights, and experience many wonders.

After a late night out on the town, I managed to get out of bed at 7am, and catch my bus at 8:30. The bus ride was approx. 2 hours and on the bus ride there, I met some new friends; which is always awesome. We arrived to a cloudy, misty, and yet gorgeous view of Lake Windermere. The Lake District is so vast, with so many little towns, hills, and sights to see that we were only able to venture around Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere. This was potentially the most touristy place to visit.

  

After chilling with some giant swans, we began our trek from Bowness-on-Windermere to the town of Windermere. The pubs didn’t open til 12, so by the time we walked all the way to Windermere, the pubs were open, and we all got lunch. We ended up meeting a Canadian and an American at the pub, who were pretty chill and eventually travelled with us for the rest of the day.

Being the tour guide of the pack (since I do a bunch of research of the places I visit, and write down all the places I want to see), I led everyone to a mountain/hill called Orrest Head, where I read that the view was said to be absolutely amazing. The trek up the hill was honestly a walk in the park, and with the leaves changing colours, the paths up the hill felt like I was back home in Ontario. This time of year at home, I would be going on nature walks with my dogs and family. Just going through these nature trails in England made me feel great that I was experiencing my traditional nature walks, but at the same time, missed my family and animals.

    

As we hiked up the hill, we came to a path where a Donkey was waiting to be given attention. We called hime Eddie, and quoted lines from Shrek; he was adorable.

  

~Sometimes life is so busy, you don’t have time to stop and smell the leaves.

This is a quote that really hits close to home. This was finally a day to relax from my busy life style and really enjoy the scenery. A time of serenity. And It was.

We reached the top of the summit, and were all just taken back on how gorgeous and awe-inspiring the view was. This was another time where you just feel on top of the world and feel infinite.

  

Before we trekked up the hill, my friend Kristen brought up the idea of summit brews, which is basically buying alcohol and bringing it with you as you climb the summit. Once you reach the top, you crack open the brews and celebrate! This is exactly what we did. We’re classy like that.

Once we took everything in, we journeyed down the hill and through the countryside, eventually walking along Lake Windermere back to Bowness-on-Windermere to do one more thing that we wanted to do while at the Lake District. And it wasn’t to play with the swans; even though we ended up doing that.

   

WE DECIDED TO BUY A BOAT!

Well… rent one for an hour. But still.
We had our own boat to drive on Lake Windermere, which was just phenomenal.

Because there were 8 of us, we had to split into two boats, which was an awesome idea, because we spent that hour racing, playing chinese fire drill (where you hop out of one boat and switch into the other one…without falling into the water), and pretty much playing bumper cars. It was an fun time, and a liberating experience.

Who gets the chance to drive boats in England? This kid!

Of course we broke into song a few times, especially with I’M ON A BOAT!

We could have paid £7.50 for a boat cruise around the lake, but instead got a really good deal with driving boats ourselves, which was only £6 and a lot more fun!

The day was short, but the spectacular views and good times made at the Lake District that day were memories I’ll remember forever.

~ Ryan

Categories: Blog, England, Lake District, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Home Away From Home: Perth, Scotland

One of the main reason why I came to visit the city of Perth was mainly due to the fact that I wanted to send a postcard of Perth, from Perth, Scotland to Perth, Ontario, Canada; where I usually live. I thought it would be humourous to do so.

Like my little town, the city Perth in Scotland is quite small, with not much to do or see. Apparently the city recently became somewhat of a tourist attraction once Perth become Scotland’s seventh city after winning a UK competition marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It wasn’t actually a “city” until this year, even though the Scottish people named the town “the city of Perth” in spite of its previous status omission.

The city is small and contains many interesting little shops, but instead of shopping, my friend Ian and I spent our day hiking and nature walking up Kinnoull Hill. We went with a tour guide for the day who lead us up this adventurous summit. If you are ever in Glasgow, check out this guy’s tours; he was one of the best tour guides that I’ve ever had.

 

As the season changes to autumn, I was lucky to have spent the day in Scotland without rain. The weather was gorgeous, and the changing colours of nature were awe-inspiring. Fall is my absolute favourite time of the year, and to go on a nature walk that reminded me of being back home in Canada was exactly what I needed. The air was crisp and cool, the falling leaves and calming sounds of nature led me to be in a very euphoric mood.

The weirdness of this tree was fascinating to me.

 

The nature walk and hike up to the summit of Kinnoull Hill was relaxing and a workout at the same time. The view from the top was just phenomenal though. Why is it that the view from the tops of mountains/hills are always the best views in the world? I need to become a professional hiker/mountaineer, as opposed to amateur blogger and film-maker.

I was really happy I got to spend the day with my friend Ian who is another Queens University film and media student (such as myself), and had Gary as our awesome and humorous  tour guide; he makes my top fav 5 Scottish people I know.

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All in all, I had an amazing Saturday afternoon enjoying the autumn weather by hiking up a Scottish hill. Perth was my home away from home, and I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Check out the rest of my weekend in Scotland here

Check out my Autumn/Fall Music Playlist here

Categories: Autumn, Blog, Fall, Scotland, Seasons, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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