Getting to Edinburgh –
I decided that I wanted to take the train as I thought it would be a nice way to see more of the country on the way up, plus I just love taking trains. The journey was really pretty so I would highly recommend doing this trip as a way of getting from London to Edinburgh (also FYI, you get to go through Newcastle too for all those Jersey Shore fans). The price worked out cheaper than flying and takes you right into the centre of Edinburgh at Waverley station.
First Impressions of the City –
I kind of expected Edinburgh to be a bit like London, but really it was nothing like it. I love assessing the feelings of places and as soon as I got out of the train station in central Edinburgh it was like ‘ohhhh sheeeeit this place is mystical as!!’. It was like the place was busy and bustling but it was also a chilled atmosphere at the same time….if that makes sense – the Edinburgh Castle in the back drop just made me want to yell ‘FAIRY TALE!!’. Total magic.
The People –
The locals are just so friendly and upbeat, and you can tell that they are very passionate about their country and heritage which is lovely to see. Word of warning, you may have a few of those occasions where you come across someone with a reeeeally thick Scottish accent and have that awkward situation where you have to say “Pardon? Excuse me? Sorry, huh?” and then just end up nodding and smiling because you couldn’t pull any words from their sentence, *face palm*.
My accommodation was at a place called West End Hotel, which has both hostel rooms and private rooms. I stayed in an 8 room female only dorm on the top floor – you’ll have to walk up a million flights of stairs with your luggage (hostels tend to not have lifts) but it’s totally worth it for the view of an Edinburgh sunset in the evenings. Here they didn’t have lockers in the rooms for your belongings, there were locks on the door and everything felt very safe so if you wanted to lock up your things you would just put a lock on your suitcase. I met ladies from Romania, China, France and the Australian had us in fits telling us about the awkwardness of her seeing the live sex show in Amsterdam as part of her world tour :P The hostel is (clearly by the name) in the West end of Edinburgh but only 11 minutes’ walk from Princes Street right in the middle of the city where everything is. There was no allocated beds in this place, it was just pick a bed, put your stuff on it and that was your domain (this is where I got myself in a pickle in the next hostel which I will explain further down). This hostel had kitchen facilities, en-suite bathrooms, laundry, a bar and bistro and as mentioned was really conveniently close to everything.
Food Situation –
In Edinburgh, again (like London) I didn’t really have too many restaurant meals. To try and keep costs down, they have a Sainsbury’s and Marks and Spencer’s on Princes Street which is very close, and with this hostel having a kitchen it meant I could get a few things then prepare. Holland & Barrett is good for picking up healthy snacks also. The Royal Mile has some cool authentic pubs and restaurants, and if you want coffee with a view – you’ve GOTTA go to Starbucks Princess street.
I didn’t really spend that much on actual activities because the Edinburgh Fringe festival was on and the was so much free stuff to see and do. If you are planning a trip to Edinburgh I would highly recommend orgnanising it around the time that the festival is on, with music, street entertainment, performances, markets and food stalls you won’t be short of things to do! Other things I would recommend is a walk up Calton Hill which has awesome views over the city (it only takes about 10 minutes to walk up, its not Hakirimatas), and another awesome viewpoint is Arthur’s Seat. Beautiful old streets to walk up are Cockburn Street and Royal Mile with cool and quirky little shops along the way, and if you’re legs get tired like mine did but you still want to cover all the ground you can – jump on the hop on hop off bus. There are 4 different routes to the hop on hop off buses (I went on the red route) which covers a lot of the city, sit on the top deck and get some vitamin D whilst learning about the history of the city and resting your legs – boom.
Public Transport –
I didn’t use public transport at all during my stay in Edinburgh as it was easy (and made for a good workout) just to stroll the city by foot. When it was time to leave Edinburgh I got the Airport bus (Airlink 100) which runs every 10 minutes from Princess Street, it’s only £4.50 and takes you straight to the terminal (and off to Dublin yeeeeow).
Costs (NZD) –
- Train from London to Edinburgh (Virgin trains booked at counter at Kings Cross Station) – $115
- West End Hotel, 3 nights (booked through venere.com) – $220
- Spending money, (including activities/attractions/food/transport etc) over 4 days – $300 (Hop on hop off bus £15)
Things to note –
- From Edinburgh to Dublin your currency will change from pound to euros, so don’t go dishing out pound notes in Ireland because you’ll get weird looks. But don’t go exchanging those pounds just yet, hang onto some because you may need them again (see below).
- If you’re flying Ryan Air, you HAVE to print out your boarding pass. They won’t accept it if you don’t have a piece of paper printed out (mobile boarding passes not accepted). This proved a bit of a mission for me because I couldn’t print my boarding pass prior to leaving NZ as they only email it through to you a few days prior to travel, and for some reason finding somewhere to print documents in Scotland was about as easy as finding Nessy.
- Depending on what mood the UK is in, it can feel like going from Summer to Winter in an hour flight. Temperatures in London and Edinburgh were pretty impressive, some could say tropical for a UK Summer :P up around the early 20’s – but as soon as I got to Dublin it felt like I should have packed more winter woollies.
Getting to Dublin City –
Getting to my hostel in the heart of Dublin city was really easy – they have buses from right outside the airport terminal and you’ve got the option of the Airlink (which is a bit faster) or public transport (bus 16) which takes about 55 mins and costs 3.50 euros.
First Impressions of the City –
If you watched my travel Vlog on my experience in Dublin and seen my blubbering, you will know that I felt a really huge connection with this city. It was where my Grandma was born and raised, and being there for the first time definitely brought back heart-warming memories of her with a thick accent trying to teach me to dance Irish jigs (poor effort on my part), eating spam at hers for lunch (not such a heart-warming memory, spam bleh) and telling me tales of Dublin. It was cool though to have that feeling of being connected to a place without having been there before, and Dublin definitely lived up to it lively jig-gy reputation.
The People –
I don’t really need to write much about the Irish people….who doesn’t like Irish people?? And that accent! Just keep talking.
This was the last hostel that I stayed at as part of my trip (the rest were hotels/apartments) and it didn’t disappoint as far as hostel experiences go – The Abbey Court Hostel. This was by far the liveliest hostel out of the three I stayed in, it was huuuuuge. It had cool little quirky features such as graffiti art all over the hallways and communal areas, an outside sitting area covered in colourful umbrellas and by far my favourite – hammock room! Now, this is where I have to note how important it is to check if the hostel has allocated beds or not :/ The London hostel was allocated, the Edinburgh hostel wasn’t, so arriving at the Abbey Court Hostel the guy who checked me in at reception didn’t tell me it was allocated beds (he also didn’t tell me the room code either so I have to lug my shit up and down to the 4th floor twice as the first time I couldn’t get in….I think it was his first day). Anywho, I assumed (clearly I shouldn’t have) that we just picked a bed, which I did, went to sleep, got up next morning, went off on my 1st day adventure – and arrived back in the evening to find all my belongings gone. *Motherf*#ker!* as I curse the imaginary person who in my head had taken off with my luggage, and on the walk down to reception I had already mentally given myself a pep talk that *it’s OK Stacy, its only stuff, everything happens for a reason, peace and love….MOTHERF#@KER WHO STEALS SOMEONES STUFF LIKE THAT!!*. But anyway, the story does end with peace and love because my luggage was at reception because they took it out because it was in the wrong storage cage and not my allocated one (still kinda pissed about that one but I’ll let it slide). So yeah, check and double check your bed allocation! Overall though this was an awesome hostel and I would highly recommend it for cheap, lively and fun accommodation in an awesome location.
Food Situation –
Guinness and whisky! Just kidding :P I had other stuff too – I had red wine as well as Guinness and whisky.
You’re pretty spoilt for choice with places to eat around the city centre, you’ve got all options from cute little pubs in the Temple Bar area to healthy cafes – there is one right next to the hostel called POG which is awesome.
I was lucky enough to be meeting friends in Ireland who are Kiwis but are living in Dublin now, so had my very own tour guides :) We hired a car and did a day trip up to Northern Ireland which is a very pretty drive and Giants Causeway is just magic! There is also the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge which is not far from the Causeway, but this was closed the day we went due to high winds :( Driving back along the coast via Belfast is equally magical, just keep in mind that during this trip (as mentioned above with holding onto that UK money) you’ll cross the boarders where it switches from euros to pounds again! Kinda cool though that you can count this road trip as visiting 2 countries! (you don’t get passport stamps though boooo). If you don’t want to hire a car there are also day tours departing from Dublin up to the Causeway (and other trips) which are also a good option. I would also highly recommend doing a whiskey tour (we did the Teeling Whisky Distillery, tasty and educational), the Guinness Storehouse (have a pint at the Gravity Bar), and even just wandering the streets of Dublin to see what you can find around the city – if you’re into cool vintage quirky retro things, the store Lucy’s Lounge in Temple Bar area is awesome.
Getting To The Airport –
Getting back to the airport was very easy, even while – in my experience – slightly drunk (not that I would recommend this). I had gone out for farewell drinks and having arrived back at the hostel by 11pm-ish (big night for me) and knowing I had to be up at 3am for an early flight, I took it upon myself (and red wine logic) that it would be a sensible choice to just pick up my things and head to the airport then. I took the Airlink bus (no. 747) this time which was 6 euros, which got my drunken ass to the airport faster…..so I could have more time sleeping on the airport floor with the other travel gypsies waiting for my morning flight. :P Lifetime memories made in Dublin! :D
Costs (NZD) –
- Flight from Edinburgh to Dublin (booked through RyanAir) – $110
- Dublin accommodation at Abbey Court Hostel 4 nights (booked through booking.com) – $200
- Spending money (including activities/attractions/food/transport etc) – $280
Check out the little video of my Dublin experience below or here, you can check out my previous Vlog filmed while in Edinburgh here and Dublin here, and if you have any questions please flick me a message! Next Blog – Venice :D