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.
Me at the Museum of Fire
Edinburgh was the first city in Europe to form a fire brigade, the Edinburgh Fire Establishment in 1824.
1824 Edinburgh fire engine at the Museum of Fire
Me in the former control room at the Museum of Fire
The Museum of Fire is home to fire engines from all the UK.
Fire engine from Huntingdon in the Museum of Fire
Row of firefighter’s helmets at the Museum of Fire
1901 fire engine from Tullis Russel paper mill in Fife at the Museum of Fire
Long ladder stretches up the stairwell at the Museum of Fire
Models of fire fighting appliances at the Museum of Fire
South Eastern Fire Brigade engine
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.
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.
East Tower of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh
The views over Edinburgh from the rooftop of the Visitor Centre are wonderful.
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.
Fire engine from Fraserburgh in the Museum of Fire
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.
Â Exterior of the Edinburgh College of Art
The 1960s Boardroom at the Edinburgh College of Art
Cupola at the Edinburgh College of Art
Exhibition at the Edinburgh College of Art
B+B Edinburgh is a boutique Bed & Breakfast hotel in the fomer home of John Richtie Findlay, owner of the Scotsman newspaper.
Stained glass window at B+B Edinburgh
View towards Dean Village from B+B Edinburgh
Cloud lampshade in the foyer of B+B Edinburgh
Embellished ceiling at B+B 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.
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.
The National Monument on Calton Hill Edinburgh
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.
National Monument & Nelson Monument on Calton Hill 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.
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.
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 Â£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.
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.
Highland cows & calves at Paxton House in the Scottish Borders
Here are my suggested itineraries for three day trips by car from Edinburgh.
The dog-head shaped Kingdom of Fife lies north of Edinburgh. You’llÂ 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.
The Glen in Pittencrieff Park
From Dunfermline, head east on the A921 coastal road to visit the beaches in Aberdour and Burntisland.
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.Â If you’re interested in Scottish history you can visit Falkland Palace.
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.Â 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.
Salisbury Crags reflected in pond in Scottish Parliament landscaping
There are also ponds at the front of the Scottish Parliament.
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.
Dynamic Earth against the backdrop of Salisbury Crags
I stayed at the Tune Hotel Edinburgh Haymarket for one night on 26 December 2012. The price was Â£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.
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.
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.
For six weeks from the end of November until early January, Edinburgh’s Christmas Fair brings plenty of festive spirit and bling to the city centre. While parts of the Fair may descend into slightly tacky commercialism, the overall effect, especially after dark, is of a sparkling Winter wonderland.