Travelling Toddler: Edinburgh; Part 1.

It’s been a while since I properly wrote on here but whilst wandering around Edinburgh with our now-toddling-toddler, Cub, I realised that perhaps refreshing a few reviews from the perspective of someone with a child wasn’t a bad idea. Overall we had an incredible time, if exhausting, in Edinburgh and the people were a large part of that. We miss Scotland often and a lot and being in the company of friendly smiling faces and lilting accents was a huge blessing… plus, y’know.. haggis and such things, YUM!

This is a brief review of a few places we visited, discovered, and slept.

The view from my bed, early on a July morning.
The view from my bed, early on a July morning.

 

SLEEP:

Grassmarket, VieAmhor Edinburgh Apartments.

We arrived in the beautiful city of Edinburgh, parked up right beneath the castle, and loved seeing a the life that embraces it. A girl and her dog were playing on the slope, another guy was just taking a break with a quick kip on the grass, others were reading on benches, or walking the many, many steps upto to Johnson Street. Steps/stairs were clearly going to be part of our experience so I’ll try not to mention them too much, just assume: travel = steps.

We met our lovely host who took Bear up to the flat to get the car parking card which had been pre-planned, explained that she had also left a baby bath in the flat (as well as cot and high chair) as she thought it might be useful. This was incredibly sweet and much appreciated. We climbed the 4 floors to the flat (slowly as Cub decided she would not be carried) and settled ourselves in by unpacking bits and bobs.

The flat was well furnished, clean and tidy, and modern in just the way you’d love your house to look if you didn’t have a child and dog and a normal life. Our kitchen diner wasn’t huge but perfectly practical, the bedrooms were nice with high ceiling and windows, which brings me to the view. We were staring right up at the beauty of Edinburgh Castle. Waking up to it in the sun the next morning was awesome and lifted my spirits immediately. You don’t often get that view for a decent price.

The stairs were a hassle but were likely good for us in the long run. However, I’m not sure even the health benefits would get me to take a 17 month old there again, sadly. Trying to control tantruming toddler whilst she is desperate to either continue up another floor or run back down the last lot is tricky at the best of times. We risked leaving the pram on the ground floor and prayed that everyone coming in and out was trustworthy (whilst also taking the detachable wheels with us back upstairs).

The only issues that really threatened to risk ruining our stay happened in the last day of the three we were there when firstly, part of the window frame fell off hitting Bear in the face as he opened it, and secondly, sitting on the bed caused it to collapse. This meant sleeping (thankfully on another bed rather than the floor) in the same room as Cub which meant food-from-Mama-time became all-night and no-one got much sleep (a shame the night before a wedding). The experience left me quite shaken, and emotional, and self-obsessing, and although not exactly something that could be fixed at 10pm, there wasn’t a huge amount of apology/concern from VieAmhor either.

Overall, it was a lovely place to stay. It’s just a shame that accidents can spoil a memory.

FOOD:

Burgers & Beers Grillhouse, Royal Mile.

Bear, having frequented this establishment after a Stag weekend before jumping on a train home and had been raving about the huge, artery-clogging, burgers that I clearly had to try decided to put this on our to-do list. Not being a huge burger fan (I generally find them over-exaggerated in their greatness) I acquiesced and we arrived for an early dinner on our first night, too tired to cook ourselves.

I had The Johnny Cash, which was a burger with goats cheese and red onions. It was tasty but personally I’d say a little expensive at £11.95 for just the burger. Bear also had a burger, and we ordered sides for Cub to eat (Haggis fritters and sweet potato chips). All very, very nice, but I can’t help feeling that if I had ordered the traditional burger, chips, drink, and maybe a side for each person, we would have been severely out-of-pocket.

When we mentioned that we’d gone there to friends, the general comment was that the beers were incredible, so maybe this tee-total-er was a little out-of-place for a craft beer establishment. On the other hand, despite clearly being popular with families there was little effort made to make them feel welcome with the odd high-chair available. Cub sat between us as we tried to make sure she didn’t grab too much cutlery and stab us all in the eye. The staff were lovely, but sometimes a seat is really what you need when eating a meal.

This is Bear’s awkward “Can I eat now?” face.

Graze cafe, Grassmarket.

The Graze Cafe became our saving grace of food, discovered on Tuesday morning with bare cupboards and hungry bellies. Finding somewhere on our doorstep was great but actually finding a huge amount of choice of healthy options was also a godsend. Breakfast was takeaway boxes of good Scottish produce in rolls: haggis, black pudding, potato scones, and much, much more. Cub on the other hand was satisfied with a box of cereal and milk. We were planning to head to Arthur’s Seat/Holyrood Park so finding out they also create incredible picnic boxes and salad boxes was grrrrreat. Bear happily stuffed boxes full of salmon, tuna, chicken, falafel, grains, salad, kale, mediterranean veg, and all sorts of stuff we forgot about despite loving. Those boxes filled all three of us well and continued to be part of our meals for another 24 hours. It was such great value that we’re not surprised locals like it, and tourists don’t feel ripped off. The staff were also completely lovely, interesting people, and we had even hoped to say goodbye upon leaving but our lovely servers were not on shift at the time.

We would happily recommend this cute little paradise of green to anyone wandering by and were a little sad to not have another opportunity to go back (for the fourth time in 3 days).

Southern Cross Cafe, just off Royal Mile.

This was our second attempt (on Day 2.) at finding a tasty breakfast. The atmosphere was nice if a little polite (and hence I was a little nervous about tired and hungry toddler), but the menu had a good selection and tasted great when we received it. Service was a little slow but in a busy cafe I wasn’t surprised. I would have been a little annoyed at high prices except that we got a 50% student discount which made everything much nicer (they also do a backpackers discount which is nice)!

I would personally recommend the blueberry pancakes but maybe have the syrup on the side to avoid going into a sugar-induced coma.

Yo Sushi, Princes Street.

Meeting an old friend for lunch midweek needed somewhere central and quick and so finding a Yo Sushi seemed to solve our problem. It was also great to see a lift as well as an escalator up to the restaurant which overlooks Princes Street Gardens. The choice is clearly huge and the facilities are useful with multiple high chairs available, and changing space in the disabled toilet. Cub also clearly loved (if was a little hesitant about the new stuff on her tray) everything she ate and delighted in the mess she created. There were also a number of other little families doing the same, proving that toddlers do not require the basic fish finger/chicken nuggets/burger and chips or if you’re really posh: pasta, to be happy and well-fed. She ate sticky chicken pieces, a few veg dumplings, bits of everything Bear and I ordered, and some cheesecake balls. It went so quick we thought she’d snuck it back onto the conveyor belt!

Because why the flip shouldn't you have a brain (maybe a model) in a glass tube with a green light on it?!
Because why the flip shouldn’t you have a brain (maybe a model) in a glass tube with a green light on it?!

FUN:

Dynamic Earth, nr. Holyrood Park.

Go to this museum. Museum isn’t even the right word. Experience sounds too advertise-y. Even so it is brilliant. Perfect for kids because they are so ready for everyone to be running round, looking and touching and asking and climbing everything. The price is a little steep but again student discounts are wonderful and under 3’s go free. We started on the tour after a quick toilet break (again, great facilities for all ages), and were taken through all sorts of exhibits. It felt as if we were standing in a movie set from films I used to watch. As information filled the walls, dynamically moving and changing, hologram-like characters from the past talked to us about how discoveries were made and when. There were dinosaur feet coming through the ceiling, starfish on the wall, planets decorating the stairways, and questions to answer, microscopes to stare through, and then the finale was a gorgeous film projected onto the ceiling taking us through the wildest weather of the solar system. It was here Cub decided to fall asleep, stretched out on her back, using me as a mattress, staring at the stars: can you blame her?

We followed this with our picnic lunch looking onto the slopes of Arthur’s Seat, and when Cub had woken up and eaten, took her to burn off some energy in the soft play area next to the gift shop. It was a great way to spend a few hours and we’d love to go back again when she’s old enough to really learn about it all.

They also do walking tours up Arthur’s Seat, which is definitely on our list for next time. Sadly weather forecasts of thunder and lightning didn’t seem to mix with metal prams and high, open hillsides.

To be continued…

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