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Quick Trip to Edinburgh with Kids

Old Jul 24th, 2011, 01:23 PM
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Quick Trip to Edinburgh with Kids

With school finally letting out here in the UK, we decided to take a quick trip to Edinburgh. Our family of 4 (kids 12 & 9) was able to get a quick taste over 2.5 days (3 nights). I'll try to stray from my normally, over-detailed trip reports. All quoted prices are for the family.

First off, the water was fine and tasted great!

Transportation: Our first train trip! It took 4.5 hours from Derby and did not require having to change trains. Probably about the same for driving but without the nuisance of a car to deal with upon arrival. Flying would have been similar once travel time to airport and excess checkin time is considered. Very low stress. Glad we did it.

We managed to walk to where we needed to go for the most part. We used taxis from/to the train station and to dinner one, tired night. I had the bus information at the ready, but it wasn't needed for this trip.

Lodging: Premier Inn, Lauriston Place. £100/night not including breakfast (£116 with). This was our first time using Premier Inn and it fit the bill perfectly. Large family room, clean, new, decent location. We are Holiday Inn Express types in the US and this seemed to be a suitable UK equivalent (albeit with some things not included in the base price). We’ll have to keep them in mind for future travels.

The Lauriston Place location is decently located but not exactly in the middle of things. It took about 15 minutes to walk to the Royal Mile (at the George IV bridge). Sometimes that was a tall order after a long day on our feet. It was £5 for a taxi to/from the Waverly Train Station.

Activities:
Day 1 (3 pm arrival):
walked Royal Mile from George IV Bridge to Holyroodhouse.
St. Giles (£2 photo fee)
Museum of Edinburgh (free)
hiked up (most of) Arthur’s Seat

Day 2:
Edinburgh Castle (free w/ English Heritage membership (£47 savings), £10 for audio tours)
Camera Obscura (£34)
Gladstone’s Land (free w/ National Trust membership (£15.50 savings)

Day 3:
National Museum of Scotland (free)
Mercat Historic Vault Tour (£22)
more Royal Mile shopping (££&pound

Plenty that we wanted to do that will have to wait (Calton Hill, Georgian House, Britannia, Holyrood Palace and Abbey, People’s Museum)

Favorite things:
Camera Obscura (hands down the kids’ favorite)
Firing of the canon at Edinburgh Castle
Views from Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh Castle, and Camera Obscura
Street performers along the Royal Mile
Seagulls in the city
Crown Jewels and Stone of Scone (Edinburgh Castle)
The National Museum was impressive but too much to really take in in one sitting.

Food:
We were pleasantly surprised with our dinner selections. The first night at Whiski’s along the Royal Mile and the third night at The Doric (Market Street) were both very good and around £60. The middle night at Vittoria [Italian] (£45) was decent but not as good as the other two.

Note: I had picked out a couple of places away from the Royal Mile but close to the hotel based on Trip Advisor reports (Indaba and Passorn specifically); however, both were booked when we went wondering by. I hate to make reservations on vacation, but you might have to for the smaller places.

Another note: the kids were welcomed at all the places, but the Doric (and I assume other "bars") only allows them until 8 pm.

Lunches were not so good, but we did strive for something quicker. Breakfast at the hotel was filling but repetitive after 3 days.

Not a whisky guy so I didn't try any, but did like the Caledonian 80 Scottish Ale that I tried. It’s a nice change of pace from the English Ales/bitters I’ve been having.

Weather: Cool and overcast, about 60°F most of the time (remember this is the middle of July). We did get some sun the last day but unfortunately we were inside or underground most of the day. No rain at least. My motto here in the UK is that sun is a bonus and you’ve come out ahead as long as you don’t get drenched!

General: Edinburgh is a very pleasant city with compact sites, friendly people and good food/drink. It was nice to not worry about scammers and pickpockets too. In fact, I was even asked directions and I didn’t have to worry about getting fleeced from behind (like in Paris).

Summary: Obviously, we just scratched the surface with 2.5 days. More time would have been good, but things don’t always work out that way. I’d encourage folks to visit even if they don’t have a week to devote. We look forward to returning to Scotland but will probably head to the Highlands for a week on the next trip.
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 02:57 PM
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Sounds like a great trip. I've been up the Camera Obscura several times but the last was probably 5-6 years ago. I'd heard or read somewhere its been 'jazzed up' and is more high tech/touristy than it used to be.

What was the experience like -- it used to be one of those hidden (in plain sight) gems that not many people visited.
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 09:26 PM
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You get a timed entry for the "tour" at the top where they do the proper Camera Obscura bit. I'm guessing this hasn't changed much. Even that was fun because they had blank cards that you could use to "pick up" people (block the reflection) and then drop them back down.

The other floors had various themes (illusions, holography, kaleidoscope, mirrors, etc.) that were hands on obviously visual. Lots of photo ops as well.
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 09:51 PM
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Yeah - I remember picking up people and moving them

When you think how old the technology is -- the first 'webcam'
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Old Jul 24th, 2011, 10:18 PM
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That's great that you got your break to Edinburgh, and I'm happy to hear you did visit the Camera Obscura and the kids enjoyed it so much.

And glad to hear the water is still fine to drink, phew!
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Old Jul 25th, 2011, 05:29 AM
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A concise and interesting trip report.Thanks for reporting back. I hadn't realized that Gladstone's Land was a National Trust site. I'll put it in my list as I've never quite managed a visit.

Happy to hear you survived the train ride while sitting the amongst the masses.
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Old Jul 25th, 2011, 09:07 AM
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I hadn't realized that Gladstone's Land was a National Trust site.

I believe the Georgian House is as well. Doubly unfortunate that we didn't fit that in too!

Happy to hear you survived the train ride while sitting the amongst the masses.

Ah yes, the masses. We survived quite well. Though I appreciate the reasons for 1st class, particularly when traveling solo. I can pretty much bet that this tightwad will never pay much of a premium for our family of 4.

The train worked out quite nice as we had a table going both ways. We were able to watch movies on our laptop and keep it charged! The M&S at Edinburgh was a good place to stock up as well. It was all quite easy and that will make the next one even more so.
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 03:01 PM
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Very nice - I hope we can include some of these sites at least as your family seems to like all the same things we do. How long did it take to do Camera Obscura, and why did you do only part of Arthur's Seat? BTW - I haven't seen Mercat Vault listed anywhere - what is it and what is the attraction? What did the kids think of it? Also - how did you manage to see a cannon fired? My kids would think this is hands down the coolest thing in the world - they'll love Edinburgh!
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Old Jun 27th, 2013, 09:18 PM
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Ack. I realized that I never posted my blog link with this trip report. Perhaps the photos will help.

http://ukfrey.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/edinburgh.html

Camera Obscura -- about 1 - 1.5 hrs??

Arthur's Seat -- because we were hot and tired

Cannon -- the cannon is fired every day at 1 pm at the castle. The legend (?) is that they do 1pm instead of 12pm to save 11 rounds of ammunition!

Mercat Tours -- http://www.mercattours.com/history-walks.asp

tour was interesting but perhaps not can't miss spectacular -- to be honest, the kids tolerated it more than enjoyed it
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