Tag Archives: Edinburgh

What to do in Edinburgh, the best Edinburgh attractions and places to stay in Edinburgh.

royal observatory east tower dome

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

I finally visited the Royal Observatory Edinburgh during the Doors Open Days in September 2013. I reckoned that the Observatory would be one of the most popular venues, so we set out from Berwick upon Tweed early with the intention of getting to the Observatory by 10.30 at the latest. We arrived soon after 10am; it was easy to find a parking space and to get tickets for first show at the Starlab Planetarium.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The exterior of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

In the few minutes before the Starlab Planetarium I posed for an infrared photo in the Library. The hottest parts are displayed in red, so I suppose that the red area around my forehead relates to brain activity, while my nose, eyebrows and cheeks were a cooler white colour.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Infrared photo of me

The Starlab Planetarium was in a domed indoor blow-up tent. The presenter Ally gave an excellent overview of the different seasonal constellations. It was so funny when a young child asked Ally how long it’d take to travel to Mallorca by rocket.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Copper dome of the East Tower at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

There’s a large telescope in the East Tower.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Telescope in the East Tower

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Telescope in the East Tower

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Information board in the East Tower

The views from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre over the city and the Forth Estuary were amazing.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

View of Salisbury Crags from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

View of Edinburgh Castle from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre

The Deep Space Gallery was accessed from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre. There were rocket making workshops and meteorite handling sessions taking place in the Gallery.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Light pollution map of Europe in the Deep Space Gallery

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

Information about the seasonal constellations in the Deep Space Gallery

Normally individuals can only visit the Royal Observatory Edinburgh during monthly Public Astronomy Evenings. Places need to be booked in advance. The cost is £4 per adult, £3 for concessions and children, payable on entry by cash or cheque.

 

museum of fire tullis russell

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

We visited the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh during the Doors Open Days in September 2013. I’ve walked past the building in Lauriston Place on many occasions, assuming that it was still an operational fire station.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Me at the Museum of Fire

Edinburgh was the first city in Europe to form a fire brigade, the Edinburgh Fire Establishment in 1824.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

1824 Edinburgh fire engine at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Me in the former control room at the Museum of Fire

The Museum of Fire is home to fire engines from all the UK.

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Huntingdon in the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Row of firefighter’s helmets at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Long ladder stretches up the stairwell at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Models of fire fighting appliances at the Museum of Fire

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

South Eastern Fire Brigade engine

Photo Tour of the Museum of Fire in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Dunbar at the Museum of Fire

The Museum of Fire is staffed by volunteers and is usually open 10.00 -15.00 weekdays, but it’s better to phone in advance to check opening hours on 0131 228 2401.

college of art1

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

We visited some of the Doors Open Days venues in Edinburgh during the last weekend of September 2013. It was really hard to draw up an intinerary as there were so many interesting venues, predominantly open between 10am – 4pm.

The Royal Observatory Edinburgh

My priority was to see the Royal Observatory Edinburgh, as I’d never been there. We planned to arrive soon after the 10am opening time to find parking outside the Observatory and secure tickets for the Starlab Planetarium.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

East Tower of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh

The views over Edinburgh from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre are wonderful.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

View of Arthur’s Seat from the Rooftop at the Royal Observatory Edinburgh.

We then headed in the city centre. I reckoned that it was too time-consuming to visit more venues on the periphery of Edinburgh. It was easy to find free parking in the city centre on Sunday. We parked close to the Fire Museum and walked around the rest of the venues.

Museum of Fire Edinburgh

The Museum of Fire  has a collection of fire engines from all over the UK.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Fire engine from Fraserburgh in the Museum of Fire

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire

Edinburgh College of Art

The Edinburgh College of Art has been located in Lauriston Place since 1906. I’ve been in the modern wing during the Degree Show. There were guided tours of the college, but we had a wander around on our own.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

 Exterior of the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

The 1960s Boardroom at the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Cupola at the Edinburgh College of Art

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art

B+B Edinburgh

B+B Edinburgh is a boutique Bed & Breakfast hotel in the fomer home of John Richtie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman newspaper.

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Stained glass window at B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

View towards Dean Village from B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Cloud lampshade in the foyer of B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Embellished ceiling at B+B Edinburgh

Doors Open Days in Edinburgh

Another unusual lampshade in the Breakfast Room

All in all, we had a really interesting time on the Doors Open Days in Edinburgh. Next year I’m planning to book a hotel room in Edinburgh on the Saturday night, so I can get around more of the venues.

Read more of our articles on what to do in Edinburgh.

portobello prom pictorial map

An Evening Stroll Along Portobello Prom in Edinburgh

We had a stroll along Portobello Prom in Edinburgh one evening in May. It had been a pretty showery day. The mix of dark clouds and evening produced some beautiful colour combinations.

The pillars in the Community Garden were taken from the garden of Argyle House (now a nursing home) in Portobello’s Hope Lane

An Evening Stroll Along Portobello Prom in Edinburgh

The impressive pillars in the Community Garden

An Evening Stroll Along Portobello Prom in Edinburgh

Looking back along Portobello Beach

 

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edinburgh national monument

Going Greek on Edinburgh’s Calton Hill

A Greek style acropolis sits atop Calton Hill in Edinburgh. The 1829 National Monument which commemorates Scottish soldiers and sailors who died in the Napoleonic Wars, took its inspiration from the Parthenon in Athens. Many assumed that the structure was left unfinished due to lack of funds, but evidently the architects, William Cockerell and William Playfair, plans only portray the current twelve columns.

If you’re visiting Edinburgh when the weather is clear and dry you should take a walk, or drive, up Calton Hill for a closer look at the National Monument and the views of Edinburgh.

Going Greek on Edinburghs Calton Hill

The National Monument on Calton Hill Edinburgh

Going Greek on Edinburghs Calton Hill

View from Calton Hill towards Edinburgh Castle

The National Monument isn’t the only landmark on Calton Hill; you can climb the Nelson Monument for even better views of the surrounding city. The Nelson monument, completed in 1815, marks Admiral Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805; appropriately it’s shaped like an inverted telescope.

Going Greek on Edinburghs Calton Hill

National Monument & Nelson Monument on Calton Hill Edinburgh

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jurys inn edinburgh

Review of Jurys Inn Edinburgh

I won a two night stay for two people including breakfast in any Jurys Inn hotel in the UK in a business card prize draw. I redeemed my prize at the three star Jurys Inn Edinburgh. The hotel’s very centrally located at the side of Waverley railway station. The hotel’s exterior is a bit of an eyesore, but the glass frontage cleverly reflects Calton Hill, which gives the building a bit of character.

Review of Jurys Inn Edinburgh

Exterior of Jurys Inn Edinburgh

It’s quite strange that you have to exit reception and cross an access road to reach the lifts to get to your room. We were allocated room 517 at the front of the hotel, which had a view over the station, its adjoining car park and over to Calton Hill. Althought the windows were double glazed, we could still hear a lot of exterior noise from passing traffic and trains coming in and out of the railway station.

Review of Jurys Inn Edinburgh

View from our roon at Jurys Inn Edinburgh

Our room was a triple with a double and a single bed. The room was a pretty good size; often when I sit at the desk in a hotel room there’s very little space to get past me, but that wasn’t an issue at Jurys Inn Edinburgh. There was a fair amount of storage space with a built in luggage rack which could easily accommodate my medium suitcase and some open shelving and hanging space. Jurys Inn are still charging £10 a day for in-room internet access, which is really annoying as I couldn’t get a decent signal with my Three mobile broadband dongle in our room.

Review of Jurys Inn Edinburgh

Our room at Jurys Inn Edinburgh

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dunfermlinepittencrieffbridge

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Car

I reckon that if you want to explore the countryside, small towns and villages around Edinburgh in Scotland, you really need a car. Public transport can be expensive and/or infrequent. Having your own transport makes you much more flexible with timings and if you are enjoying a location/attration, you can stay for longer than planned. Plus you can carry a lot more gear with you e.g. a picnic and change of clothes for the four seasons in a day which you may encounter.

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Car

Highland cows & calves at Paxton House in the Scottish Borders

Here are my suggested itineraries for three day trips by car from Edinburgh.

Fife

The dog-head shaped Kingdom of Fife lies north of Edinburgh. You’ll  need to cross the clearly signed Forth Road Bridge to get there. A few miles after the Bridge, you can turn off into Dunfermline to visit Dunfermline Abbey and Pittencrieff Park.

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Car

The Glen in Pittencrieff Park

From Dunfermline, head east on the A921 coastal road to visit the beaches in Aberdour and Burntisland.

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Car

Burntisland Beach

Then continue along the A921 to Kirkcaldy to pick up the A92 dual carriageway. A few miles north of Glenrothes, join the A912 heading for Falkland. Just outside the village is a single track road which takes you half way up Falkland Hill. It’s not too arduous to climb to the peak for wonderful views. There are plenty of picnic beanches and toilets at the car park, so it’s a good spot for a picnic.  If you’re interested in Scottish history you can visit Falkland Palace.

Day Trips from Edinburgh by Car

View from Falkland Hill

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Exploring Edinburgh’s Holyrood

It’s amazing how much you discover when you take the time to explore an area which you usually walk past on the way to somewhere else. I’ve walked past Holyrood, the area at the bottom of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, on many occasions. I’m usually en-route from the free parking in Abbeyhill to the city centre. Normally, it’s either raining, I’m carrying luggage or have just enough time to get to my appointment.  Last week on a dry, if somewhat dreich (Scottish for grey/dismal) December day, I’d no luggage and I had a few minutes to spare before my lunch appointment.

I loved the reflection of Salisbury Crags in one of the ponds in the landscaped area by the Scottish Parliament. You get a much clearer overview of the landscaping in this aerial photo taken by Rankin Fraser, the landscape architect who carried out the work.

Exploring Edinburghs Holyrood

Salisbury Crags reflected in pond in Scottish Parliament landscaping

There are also ponds at the front of the Scottish Parliament.

Exploring Edinburghs Holyrood

Pond in front of the Scottish Parliament

Behind the Scottish Parliament is Dynamic Earth, an interactive attraction which explores the life of our planet. The white exterior of the Millenium Dome style construction provides a striking contrast to the backdrop of Salisbury Crags.

Exploring Edinburghs Holyrood

Dynamic Earth against the backdrop of Salisbury Crags

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Review of Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

I stayed at the Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket for one night on 26 December 2012. The price was £16.80 for a double room with a window. However, you can’t avoid a card payment fee when booking with Tune Hotels; it’s 1% for Maestro and Electron cards and 1.75% for credit cards. The hotel is directly opposite Haymarket Railway Station, so it’s easy to find. The hotel opened around one week before I stayed and there was an unpleasant plasticy type smell throughout the whole building.

Review of Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

Exterior of Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

I was allocated a room on the fourth floor, facing Haymarket station. The double glazing was very effective as I didn’t hear any exterior noise with the window shut, despite the fact that there was construction work going on overnight at the station. However, I had to have my window open overnight to try to dissipate the “new build” smell. There are also tram track works going on outside the hotel, which I assume were suspended for the holidays.

When you book at Tune hotels, the cheapest rooms are windowless. I’ve got mixed feelings about this. It could be a positive thing in Summer when sun streaming through inadequate curtains can wake you up early. It could also reduce external noise in your room. At the same time, I don’t like not having any natural light. The rooms do have air conditioning.

Review of Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

View from my bedroom window toward the Pentland Hills

I was glad that I was only staying for one night, as there were only four rather insubstantial coat hangers. The rooms was just big enought to fit in the double bed. The bed was comfortable, but I prefer to have a chair in my hotel room for working on my netbook. The bathroom had a very good shower.

Review of Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

My room at the Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket

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