I just returned from a 4 day, 3 night trip to Edinburgh, Scotland with a girlfriend and MAN was it a blast!! I think Edinburgh ranks up there with my favorite cities.. maybe THE favorite city (I know, big statement.. I'm going to think on it for a day and then decide for sure!).
What to do (for Free!): Walk to Calton Hill for a great view of the city/great pictures, hike Arthur's Seat (volcano) for another great view of the city, National Museum of Scotland (7 stories of artifacts and information), National Gallery of Scotland (Rembrandt, Da Vinci, and more!), sit and have tea and a scone at any/all the cute coffee shops, walk down the Royal Mile and window shop, listen to the Scots playing the bagpipes in the streets, stop at any pub when it starts to rain to have a beer, cider, or Pimms & fruit, stop for a coffee at the Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling wrote ALL the Harry Potter books!), see Greyfriars Bobby statue (a little Scottish dog statue who stood by his master's grave for 14 years after he died - awwww), and bus to Portobello beach for a relaxing and windy stroll down the board walk.
What to do (for a pretty penny): Edinburgh Castle (15 pounds - yes, a lot), Holyrood Palace, Ghost Tour/Underground City tour (fun and worth it), Scotch Whiskey Experience, and more, but that was it for us!
The Scots: SUPER friendly, even more so than the Irish. The extreme friendliness was a FABULOUS change from Germany.. and everywhere else for that matter!
Where to Stay: We stayed at Ramsay's B&B - within walking distance of ALL the sites. The family that runs it was just so sweet. The B&B itself looked recently renovated, the family offered lots of advice about what to do, free wifi, great breakfast (included AND you get to choose what you want every morning). When we checked out, the wife/owner gave us both hugs, kisses on the cheeks, telling us to return - felt more like an Aunt :)
Coffee/Tea/Scones: Beach House in Portobello, Clarinda's Tea House on the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral Coffee Shop
Pubs: We visited TOO many to write about them here :) Remember, they don't drink their beer cold!
Restaurants: Also too many, but Henderson's Bistro was both of our FAVORITES. All vegetarian, organic, and superbly DELICIOUS.
Public Transportation: Was PERFECT! A 30 minute, 3 pound, bus ride from the airport to the city was super fast, easy, convenient. Other busses ran throughout the city all day, every day, for a pound or 3 pound for an all day pass. SUPER convenient, especially because it rains so much!
The duration of our trip was just perfect. We had enough time without feeling rushed to get in all the sights. Turned out, we Laura and I traveled the same way - laid back, not going 24/7, both willing and HAPPY to stop at pubs and/or coffee shops in between every sight OR when it rains OR when the sun was out! The city offered TONS (and I mean TONS) of Vegetarian foods/restaurants which we were pleased to take advantage of (let me tell you, going from Germany and their meat.meat.meat to Scotland and their veggie-friendly foods was GLORIOUS).
We also took advantage of the English Speaking country and saw a movie (Bridesmaid = HILARIOUSSSS, seriously) and a fish pedicure (SUPER tickly and WEIRD/takes a little bit to get used to, but cool).
Overall, a 100% trip! Yes, it does rain there, more so than other places, but really, the rain just gives you a great excuse to sit down, read your book, people watch, and enjoy your company. I am just dying for A to go with me next time and see what he thinks!!