Castles, cocktails and French cuisine

Jodie at Edinburgh caslte

My wonderful boyfriend picked me up from the Glasgow airport and drove us to Edinburgh for an adventure-filled weekend!

Staying in a hotel in the Grassmarket area, which is perfectly central to everything, we looked out of our room window to be confronted with the ancient and majestic Edinburgh Castle.

It. Was. Magnificent!

edinburgh castle view jodiehart
The view of Edinburgh Castle from our hotel


We had decadent days out. We strolled through the cafes and bars in the ‘old town’ of Edinburgh, where a Scottish accent was few and far between.

Gothic buildings loomed over cobble-stoned, narrow streets that the brisk wind would whistle down.

Because you can’t see the sea, it’s easy to forget how close Edinburgh is to the ocean. Despite being somewhat mild in temperature, Edinburgh’s gales take your breath away, and we would find ourselves delving into packed pubs and restaurants to warm up before attempting to explore on.

We visited the castle, which was fascinating. Or, at least, what was open was fascinating, as much of it was closed. It’s difficult to imagine what it was like staying in a castle back in the day, what with all of us tourists mulling about.

Nevertheless, the view from the castle was incredible. If you are willing to fork-out the £16.50 to go there, I recommend it. But perhaps make a day of it and take advantage of the tours if you’re wanting to get your money’s worth.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’d be aware of the Elephant House. A quaint cafe where J.K Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series. Looking out of the back window, you’d notice a castle-like school towering over a cemetery.

Across the road is a blackened chapel. (Two guesses where the inspiration came from for the hit series.) Unless you’re a die-hard fan, I would have to break it to you that the Elephant Cafe is simply a very busy and over-priced place to attempt to get a hot cup of tea, and a multi-million pound book idea. But you might find the Potter-related graffiti in the bathrooms intriguing.

By night, and beneath a full moon, we strolled down luminated closes and alleys, weaving through vibrant people spilling out of the shadows of pubs.Edinburgh Castle at night

We heard of a place disguised as a barbershop, but was in fact a bar, so we went on the hunt!

We were told of the general area it is located, so we battled the winds; sniffing, clutching our scarves, and straining to see through watery eyes.

Walking past an actual barbershop, we paused, but continued on in search of this camoflague pub. After walking in all directions we kept coming back to this barbershop. The lights were dim, and the street was deserted.

Suddenly, a man flashed past the window. We opened the barbershop door and were greeted by a sturdy gentleman who waved us down a flight of windy stairs.

Upon reaching the bottom, we were at a dead end – a book shelf was all that confronted us. Just as we were about to look at each other quizzically, the bookshelf swung open with a bang as a group of cackling partiers charged out.

Music from the bar echoed up the stairwell, and we went in.
An energetic cocktail bar with people lounging on every seat and sofa of every corner of the perfectly disguised dungeon.

The atmosphere was bursting with the colour and energy that reminded me of photos I’d seen of cocktail parties in the 1920s, yet veiled with the backdrop of gothic Edinburgh, dampening the lights and thickening the air with a mellow mood.

After enjoying our cocktails – which were absolutely divine and way too easy to drink – we made our way to a traditional French restaurant in Grassmarket.

We dined on garlic-drenched snails, flaky pastry pies, and a bottle of wine. The tables were set out like a picnic in a Parisian park.

Food, wine, cocktails – Edinburgh is the place to go to soak-up moody architecture and dark history, while dining on satisfying meals from every part of the world. (Including Dominos, which for the record, really does taste pretty much the same everywhere.)