A work trip took me to Edinburgh. Given that it was half term it felt right to go up on mass (cue a 6 hour drive with two delightful little people!). We set out from Alcester at 8am, heading north. Now long car journeys with children are always daunting – but as always it’s all about the pre-planning. Check out my blog entry on car journeys with little people. We ended up in the wonderful Tebay Services for lunch (it’s part of the same chain as my favourite service area- Gloucester Services). It’s got wonderful views, delicious home-cooked food (and good deals for children!) and a play area (albeit slightly under-whelming in comparison to the others in the chain!). Anyway, I digress….the journey was fairly uneventful and remarkably easy (I promise!).
As usual we checked into an Airbnb, a wonderful city centre flat in the heart of Edinburgh new town (minutes from Princess Street). The flat, whilst centrally located was remarkably quiet at night and it was minutes from lots of lovely restaurants and bars (more about those below!). Being in a city is such a novelty for the children (we live in a small, rural market town). They loved listening to the various buskers as part of their bedtime routine!
The apartment didn’t have any parking (most flats in the centre of the city don’t!). We parked at the Straiton Park and Ride – parking is permitted for stays for up to 7 days and it was super easy to get into the centre via the numerous busses that serve the park and ride (although note that payment is needed in exact cash or via the Lothian bus app). It’s also worth noting that there are a couple of large supermarkets near the park and ride and some petrol stations.
Top Tip: Live like a local, book an apartment through, this link for £30 travel credit with Airbnb and we get a little something off our next booking too, enjoy!
A work day for mummy (cue an academic conference with a paper to deliver and plenty of networking – aka dinner and drinks!). My husband took the children to the National Museum of Scotland (it’s free!). They were full of their adventures – apparently it’s the ‘best museum they’ve been to’. It (they tell me!) has floors full of hands on activities and exhibitions and they could have spent ‘more than one day there’ (says my 5 year old!). Sounds perfect. It’s also indoors so ideal for the dodgy weather days.
I went in a little late, choosing instead to have breakfast with the gang at Patisserie Maxime – it is incredible! Simply the best croissants outside of France!
Another work day called for mummy (ok so part of a day). The children went off exploring – the Royal Mile and the Museum of Childhood (disappointing apparently!). I finished early and we convened at Bens Cookies where we picked up some yummy treats before heading to Princess Street Garden – a scooter friendly green oasis in the heart of the city (with a dirty but potentially amazing play area!) – to devour our treats overlooking the Ross Foundation, the park’s most important monument.
I imagine the gardens are beautiful all year round and I hear wonderful things about the ‘winter wonderland’ that is created – with a Christmas Market, an ice rink and many other fun attractions, including a Ferris wheel that stands 108 ft (33m) tall, often called The Edinburgh Eye.
Dinner was at Hemma (on the recommendation of some friends) – highly recommend it. The food was delicious (think modern dining with a Skandi twist) and the children were kept entertained with a corner full of toys. We felt liked we’d been ‘out out’ – oh and yummy Edinburgh Gin (it’s important to taste local delicacies!).
To be honest we were spoilt for choice for incredible family-friendly restaurants- we had a wonderful dinner on our first night at the Scan and Scallie – it has a children play room (equipped with endless DVDs, cars, etc). It’s owned by renowned chef’s Tom Kitchin and Dominic Jack and so whilst the food is pub grub its yummy. The play room means that adults can enjoy a meal out without the inevitable challenge of trying to keep the children entertained.
Saturday! Yay. A whole family day with no work commitments. We settled on a day at Edinburgh Zoo. We started the day with breakfast at Patisserie Maxime again (I told you the croissants were yummy!) and then took the airport bus to the zoo (pass Murrayfield so ticked that off as well!). Book your tickets for the Zoo online before you go (you won’t need to print them, you can show your phone).
The zoo reminded me of the one in Hamburg. It has immaculate gardens and is built around an old house so it’s generally a nice place to hang out. Obviously the pandas are the key attraction. We went first thing in the morning and they were visible but sleeping (we checked back in the afternoon and you couldn’t see them at all – it’s pot luck I guess!). There were lots of other lovely enclosures (new and well designed with child friendly viewing platforms). We all loved the Koalas and the lions and gorillas were also incredible. The zoo has a handful of great children’s play areas. These went down well with the little people.
It’s worth noting that the zoo is steep but if you climb to the top you’ll find another play area and picnic benches with amazing views!
A fun-filled day was topped off with a trip to possibly the best cafe I’ve ever been to – the Coro Chocolate Cafe. The menu is seriously extensive and as a self confessed chocoholic I struggled to pick (eventually settling on a waffle with chocolate orange icecream, jaffacakes and milk chocolate sauce). You really have to try this place if you’re nearby (but book in advance – for obvious reasons it’s popular!).
Once the children were in bed my husband and I ordered a takeaway pizza from Dough (this is such a novelty for us living where we do!). Yummy saltwater pizza dough all topped off with beer from the Isle of Arran.
Day 4 – Journey home
A wonderful break in a city that has so much more left to see and do (not to mention the stunning countryside nearby). As always, we’ll be back (especially given the ease of getting there and the relatively low travel costs!).
On the way home we checked out the Cairn Lodge service station – if this was closer it would become a favourite! We had a delicious breakfast!
Another fab city break!