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Day trip from Edinburgh-train or tour bus?


Apr 29th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2007
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Day trip from Edinburgh-train or tour bus?

We are planning a trip in July (arriving the 23rd and departing the 29th) we will be staying at the Caledonian Hilton. This is our first trip to Scotland (actually to anywhere in Europe).
We would like to take a day trip either by train or by tour bus to see some of the country and another city. Would it be better to travel by train or to take a tour bus? I like the idea of relaxing on the train watching the countryside, but the tour bus has the benefit of stopping at various locations. Which would be best in your opinion?
What experiences have you had with either?
How far is the train station from this hotel?
Do tour operators usually pick you up from your hotel?
What tour operator do you recommend?
Where would you go on a day trip?
Has anyone stayed at this hotel personally?
Has anyone tried the restaurants in the hotel or know of any good restaurants in the nearby vacinity?
I know that there are quite a few questions, but I would appreciate any advice.
Thanks in advance! I have really enjoyed reading everyones advice on this forum. It has been most helpful!
wallace6 is offline  
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Apr 30th, 2007, 03:46 AM
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I haven't stayed at the 'Caley' but have been to functions there and a Fringe show in a bedroom

It's nice, one of the old-style grand hotels - Sean Connery always stays there - and extrememly well located, right at one end of Princes Street with a view of the Castle.

I don't have any experience of day tours but it's true that they'd probably take you to more places than you can get to by train. I get the impression, though, that they are generally aimed more at the backpacker end of the market and may be a bit 'rough & ready' for people staying at the Caley ! Others here may know better, though.

The hotel may be able to advise a suitable tour or alternatively could certainly fix you up with a car and driver, but it would cost a fortune and personally I prefer to be independent.

Nice places you could easily visit by train are Stirling, St Andrew's (train to Leuchers & connecting bus or taxi) or Linlithow. St Andrew's has most going for it IMO.

Here are my regular restaurant recommendations.

What sort of food do you like ?

Here are some of my favourites places to eat in Edinburgh, roughly in descending order of price.

If you want gourmet, there are three restaurants with one Michelin star.

Martin Wishart's in Leith is fantastic, especially if you have the six course tasting menu (which will all be cooked by the man himself) now also available in a veggie version. The tasting menus are £60pp for food, £50pp for a wine to match each course - £10 less for each at lunchtime. Three courses £50, bargain set lunch at £22.50 available Tue-Fri. It's very high class but friendly and unstuffy. Book 2-3 months in advance for weekend dinner, less for weekday dinner and lunch. IMO should be 2 stars.

The other starred restaurant is Number One in the Balmoral : food nothing special IMO, ambience is more formal & traditional.

The Kitchin, also in Leith, opened last July & got a star this January some going ! It's really good but not as good as MW.

If you want 'modern Scottish', Stac Polly on Grindlay Street used to be good, but I've read mixed reviews in the last year. Also branches on Dublin Street and St Mary's Street.

La Garrigue on Jeffrey Street is a small French restaurant specialising in cooking of the Languedoc where the chef-proprietor is from, as are all the wines. The food & the chef are both lovely and the ambience is correct but relaxed. If you sit near the window there is a view of Calton Hill & its monuments.

For Italian, La Partenope on Dalry Road is wonderful. The chef-proprietor & his food are Neapolitan & it's the best Italian food (especially seafood) I've had outside southern Italy. Unusually for an Italian restaurant, in the UK at any rate, even the desserts are home made & very good. They also have a very interesting list of southern Italian wines largely based on little known grape varieties. The ambience is very relaxed.

Centotre on George Street is a busy, buzzy Italian caffe-bar offering everything from a coffee & cannolo to cocktails to to a full slap-up 4 course meal. Can be expensive for the full works but v. reasonable for just a pizza or a bowl of pasta, both of which are very good (best pizza in town IMO).

When we have vistors we've always taken them for Sunday lunch in Leith (the old docks area - which I've just moved to !). There are lots of nice waterfront places, notably the Shore, where you can eat in the restaurant or in the pub; the Waterfront (more upmarket) and Skipper's. All of these are particularly good for fish but do other things too - the Waterfront does vg steak from the Duke of Buccleuch's estates. I used to think Fisher's in Leith was the best for fish but had a very disappointing experience there last year. I haven't tried Fisher's in the City for some time so won't judge it, but other posters here have praised it recently.

Both Black Bo's and David Bann's do very interesting & innovative vegetarian cusine. BB's is very casual, studenty even, & DB's is smart casual & v. modern . Both v. reasonably priced.

I've never had good fish & chips in Edinburgh.

All of the above are walking distance from your hotel, except the ones in Leith to which you can get a 22 bus from right outside the hotel (on the Lothian Road side).

If you want recommendations for any other specific types of cuisine, or anything else, please ask.

caroline_edinburgh is offline  
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Apr 30th, 2007, 03:59 AM
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Just reread this & realised I missed "How far is the train station from this hotel?".

There are 2 railway stations in central Edinburgh, Waverley (which is the main one) and Haymarket. Each is about a 15 minute walk or short bus ride from your hotel.

Buses are £1 for a single trip anywhere in the city or £2.50 for a day ticket, which you can use as many times as you like on any bus except the airport bus and night buses (after midnight). (This is for buses run by Lothian, the main operator - you can't use the same tickets on the other operators' buses.)

In case you're not aware, there are also hop on hop off open top tour buses which take you round all the main sights in Edinburgh. A good way to get an initial overview is to do a complete circuit (there's a stop on the opposite side of Lothian Road, facing your hotel); then go round again and get off at the stop nearest the Castle, tour the Castle, walk down the Royal Mile, tour the Palace plus the new Parliament if it interests you, then get back on the bus. There are 3 or 4 different operating companies but Guide Friday is the best as it has a live guide.

If you want to visit the Royal Yacht in Leith don't pay again for the special tour bus there, just get the normal 22 bus and it's at one end of the route (get a bus marked 'Ocean Terminal'). It's in Leith so you could combine it with lunch there.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
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Apr 30th, 2007, 04:12 AM
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The train to Glasgow is always a possibility and will show the best of the countryside and the worst of the backend of the two cities. However once in central Glasgow you will find a fine (grid based as per USA norm) city with fine building, dining and museums.
bilboburgler is offline  
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