This was one of the highlights of the trip. The Edinburgh castle is a must see, trudging all the way back to the 15th century. With the center courtyard greeting you into medieval times, there's also the Royal Palace and the Great Hall. You can spend an entire day roaming through the lush green hills overlooking the city of Edinburgh. A small gift shop also exists for your pleasure.
Royal Yacht Britannia
Built for the Royal family, apparently the Queen once said it was the only place in the world she could truly relax. It’s a grand ship, retired in 1997, that’s truly outfitted for royalty and has hosted many of the most famous personalities on the planet, at events with the Queen while she was in ports around the world. I love boats, sailing and maritime history so for me, it was a fun afternoon. I’d recommend if you’re going to go, leave time for afternoon tea. The Darjeeling with a slice of lemon cake was delightful and the parlor on the top deck has great views, enclosed from the weather.
By far my favorite part about the overall Hogmanay festival is the Torchlight. Led by Vikings with torches twice the size of what I carried and accompanied by bagpipes and other music through old Edinburgh, ending on the top of Calton Hill, it’s just unlike anything else I’ve ever done anywhere in the world. I laughingly joked my first time that I couldn’t believe they were letting me play with fire at all….let alone also letting thousands of other people do so at the same time! Grand grand fun and so many photo-worthy moments too.
The Elephant House
Have a quick coffee break at the birthplace of Harry Potter, The Elephant House. It’s a cosy and rustic cafe with big windows at the back for perfect views while sipping on your latte. Perhaps you’ll be sat in the same place where J.K. Rowling was inspired to start her writing career!
Walk through lovely Victoria Street in the Grassmarket, before heading up the magical Royal Mile – a cobbled meandering, narrow road that leads up to the iconic Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy beautiful views of the city sky-line from here, a dramatic fortress jutting out from castle rock.
There was one last surprise, ANOTHER decadent meal at One Square where again the Chef personally welcomed us and gave us a tour of the kitchen. Edinburgh Castle was lit up outside our window, and a last tour caused me to finally start a written bucket list: during my next trip to Edinburgh, I want to spend a whole day in the One Spa where a rooftop pool is just one of a dozen amenities that wild horses would probably need to drag me away from. So many sweet moments, so many luxurious moments, so much fun and such incredible food…in only one day!
Bramble Bar & Lounge
Return to your hotel to get refreshed, dolled up and ready for a wonderful evening ahead. Enjoy pre-dinner cocktails at Bramble, voted one of the top 50 bars in the world. It’s truly a hidden gem that is easily missed as there is no sign at all. This small underground cosy, candlelit bar is for people who take there cocktails seriously. The barmen are fantastic and manage to create exquisite tasting cocktails from an extensive menu. Not to be missed!
The city tour starts from Waverley bridge right next to the train station and after 1 hour it drops you back at the same spot. I would have loved to explore this city by walk, but due to limited time in hand we had to settle for the bus ride. After a brief walk around the station area, we reach the station at 8pm and wait for our train back to London which is scheduled for 10pm. It was again an overnight journey for us and we reach London at 6am the next morning.
6. Diving into history: a number of historical landmarks are found in the beautiful city of Kota Kinabalu. The Atkinson Clock Tower near Bandaran Berjaya is believed to have been built in 1905. It is a pre-World War II building and was used earlier as a navigation aid to ships. Interested in spending a few hours at a war museum? There is the Petagas War memorial located near KKIA for that, as a reminder to the people who went against the Japanese in World War II. Another important site is the Town field or the Padang Merdeka, wherein landmark events like Sabah’s declaration of independence and formation of Malaysia took place. At Sembulan, you will find the Double Six monument, built as a memorial to remember the first Chief Minister of Sabah and six other ministers who died in a plane crash on 6 June, 1976. Thus, it was called the Double Six Tragedy.
For those who truly want to let there hair down, dance like there’s no tomorrow to indie/electro beats and enjoy a night of absolute hedonism, head to Cabaret Voltaire. ‘An Edinburgh institution..the staple of alternative music culture’ or The Caves, one of the most unique clubbing experiences I’ve had. (It also hosts wedding events due it's unusual, underground venue - a must see!).
Edinburgh Bus Tours
Take an open-bus tour of Edinburgh from one of the bus companies that depart from Waverley Bridge (next to the train station). Edinburgh Bus Tours and City Sightseeing are popular. Even though it really is a very walkable and compact city, it's a great way to give yourself an over-view of all the main landmarks while taking in the stunning scenery.
After dinner head to The Stand – one of the country’s most iconic comedy clubs. The performances really are fantastic and guaranteed to have you belly laughing in to the night. For the party animals it’s now perfect timing to check out the excellent nightlife this city has to offer. For those seeking a stylish club, walk along George street and take your pick from Lulu, Opal Lounge, Le Monde, Why Not or Shanghai, where the beautiful people of Edinburgh are to be seen.
Edinburgh Fringe Festival
The Fringe Festival is one of the world's renowned arts festival, complete with musicals, plays, choirs, orchestras, and every aspect of the cultural arts. Troupes from various corners of the world come together to celebrate the art of theatre. I remember seeing a hilarious parody of Hamlet, watching an all men acappella group, and a rendition of the Japanese tale of girl slaves. The fest lasts the entire month of August, and we had the privilege of performing our rendition of 'A Commedia of Errors' in it.
During the last trip to Scotland, we had a lot of really classic fare from pubs and chips shops. Our lunch at Earthy was a really unusual peek into the organic, farm-to-table movement that’s happening in Scotland I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it. Their salads were some of the best I’ve had anywhere and a nice local cider paired well with the side of soup I also had. On a cold day, it’s the perfect place for a really hearty but healthy meal. I bet it’s a gem in the summer as well.
Dinner at 21212. This restaurant is without a doubt incredible, a real treat in a listed Georgian townhouse and one of the 5 michelin starred restaurants in Edinburgh. I truly had an outstanding and elegant dining experience here. The menu is delightfully unique and we were pleasantly surprised by such personal service from the waitress.
We escaped the cold for dinner at Howie’s after Torchlight and the meal was really truly lovely, one of my favorite meals in Scotland. A bit dark for food photos but I loved that that made the inside of the restaurant so cozy and inviting after all the hours outside in the cold. If I am back in Edinburgh again, it is definitely a place I’d return to.