36 hours in Edinburgh



Earlier this year I got accepted to speak at a conference in London and when I bought my tickets I decided to fly in the weekend before. I originally thought I would fly to Switzerland and go running in the Alps, but didn't really think about the fact that a lot of the trails would be covered in snow in mid November. Once I realized this, I started looking for trail races in the UK. I found a half marathon an hour outside of Edinburgh called the Glentress Winter Half Marathon. The race was the morning after I arrived, I figured if I could run 62 miles on a few hours of sleep I could probably run 13. The caveat was I would have to drive from Edinburgh to the race, I have driven in some pretty crazy places but always on the left side of the car, I was nervous about driving on the other side of the car & road. 

Edinburgh Castle


I decided to pick up the car next to my hotel versus at the airport, since I would only have to drive a mile after 15 hours of fly. I decided that would be enough to boost my confidence for the morning drive.  The one thing I didn't plan for was having to drive in the middle of Edinburgh at 5 pm on a Friday and the hotel didn't actually have a car park. But I kept telling myself "stay left, stay left", after an hour of driving around in circles I finally parked on the street and decided it was good enough. So begins my ~36 hours in Edinburgh. 

Friday night:



I searched for Vegetarian Food near my hotel and ended up at Novapizza, a Vegan and Vegetarian Pizza & Italian restaurant. The pizza was fairly decent but the wine was great. While I admittedly probably 1 one glass too many, I blame it on the stress of driving. After dinner I walked back to my hotel hoping for a good night's sleep. I fell asleep immediately at 8:30 pm but woke up at 11:30 pm and didn't fall back to sleep until 5 am. 

Saturday:

Unfortunately I slept through my alarm and woke up at 10 am missing my race. I was upset, but was happy that I managed to get 5 hours of solid sleep. I decided to make the best of the day and play tourist in Edinburgh. I had a quick (free) breakfast at my hotel and returned my car. I was so happy I didn't have to deal with driving in the city anymore. 

National Museum of Scotland


First I headed to the National Museum of Scotland to brush up on my Scottish history. But it's actually a lot more than Scottish history, it's also has a lot natural history and science exhibits and best off all it is free. After spending a few hours there I headed around the corner to find the statue of Bobby, a Skye terrier, (as legend goes) watched over the grave of his owner for 14 years and now oversees the Greyfriars Cemetery.

Bobby


Then I headed over to Brew Lab for a coffee and a mid-afternoon snack. The coffee at Brew Lab was amazingly good and the place was packed with college students on their laptops, so I didn't feel out of place browsing on my phone. 



Once I had my caffeine fix I headed over to the very modern Scottish Parliament building for a stroll around. I also popped into the Scottish Poetry Library and looked around, even though I really know nothing about Poetry. After a day of sightseeing I thought it was time to taste a little Scotch Whisky.


A friend of mine recommended The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, a whisky club specializing in single cask whiskies. You have to be a member to buy a bottle, but not to taste. I went with a flight that the bartender recommended, he said it highlighted 3 very different types of Scotch. (I do know a bit about Scotch)  I tried a Speyside, Highland and an Islay. They were all very good and smooth. I normally don't like the peaty Islay Scotches, but this one was very mild and didn't taste like I was drinking a bottle of boozy liquid smoke. 

my scotch flight


After my Scotch tasting I figured it was best to get something in my stomach. I walked over to the popular gastro pub Scran and Scallie, which was booked for the evening, but I thought I had a chance of getting a bar seat since I was a party of one. I had to wait 15 minutes, but I did get one of the 3 bar seats. I had a nice homemade veggie burger & chips with a local IPA. After a nice conversation with the bartender I headed back to my hotel for the evening.

Sunday: 

Holyrood Park

I had an unmemorable breakfast at my hotel and headed out for my DIY running tour around parks / green areas near Edinburgh. I only had a few hours to run before I needed to get back to catch my flight, so first on the running agenda was Holyrood Park and to the top of Arthur's Seat.  Holyrood Park is a 650 acre hilly natural park just outside of Edinburgh. It used to be a 12th-century royal hunting estate. The highest peak in the park is called Arthur's Seat and on clear days you get amazing views of the city. As I got to the top of Arthur's peak I noticed how crowded it was so I opted to just go to the peak next to it. It wasn't as high but it was less crowded and still had amazing views.

View from the hill next to Arthur's seat

As I was taking in the views I noticed something that looked like a Greek ruin. Using Google Maps I was able to determine it was the National Monument of Scotland located in Carlton Hill. Since I still have a bit of time before I needed to head back to the hotel I decided to run over and check it out. I was surprised to find that the National Monument was not the only monument on the top of Carlton Hill. Unfortunately, by the time I reached the top of the hill I was pressed for time so I had to quickly run by everything without stopping to read the descriptions. 

National Monument of Scotland


Despite missing my race, I was pretty happy with my quick weekend in Edinburgh.  

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