Hi there, you might be wondering where we have been for three weeks, well, in Edinburgh having a great time but too busy to blog. Excuses, excuses.

We are getting good at finding things to do that will give us a good sense of the city. Sure we miss all the night life but oh well! I’d care a lot more if we were here just us and on holiday. 😉 We’ve had so many little conversations here in Scotland, something we’ve really missed in the other countries we’ve visited. It’s simply harder to connect in different languages.

Here the Scottish are very talkative in the right situation, and with any good reason. Walking on the street you never get into a conversation, but pull into a cafe, restaurant, or small organic food market (or any gift shop) and get ready for a good story and a hearty smile. Alice will tell you these are things I love. What makes it even better is the Scots always seem to know when story time is done; they never over do it. Something I’m learning. 🙂

Our apartment

We love our apartment, here’s a streetview of the front door, it’s the faded red one in the middle of the shot. You can’t see our window, we’re on the opposite side of this building, we face the backyard:

The front door is the faded red one here on Albert Street
The front door is the faded red one here on Albert Street

On the ground floor there’s a door in the back leading out to the shared courtyard/backyard complete with compost heap, grass and washing lines. I’ve done some workouts back here in the early morning after walking to Calton Hill.

The backyard at our apartment building
The backyard at our apartment building

As always we use the dining room table for EVERYTHING, meals, blogging, games, and school. Most places we’ve stayed don’t have a dedicated desk so the dining room table is always the next best thing.

We usually get one bedroom places so the kids get the bedroom and we get the couch. The couch you can see here is our fold out bed; we’ve stolen the kids’ memory foam pad to make our pull-out mattress bearable to sleep on. Imagine a mattress that’s better for folding than for sleeping on and that’s our bed, that’s what the memory foam makes better.

A typical night here at our Edinburgh apartment
A typical night here at our Edinburgh apartment

Edinburgh Zoo

The Edinburgh Zoo is really well done, with lots of different animals and an explicit quest to revitalise endangered species and inform about non-threatened species as well. We made an appointment to see the Panda Bears and watched the daily penguin procession. They like having a walk outside their enclosure and are happy to get back to the icy cold water after circling the throng of people curious to watch. I didn’t get a good photo of this, too many humans in the way. But the Pandas were very cooperative:

Us seeing the panda at the Edinburgh Zoo
Us seeing the panda at the Edinburgh Zoo

The Tiger Tracks exhibit was fantastic even though we didn’t see a single tiger, there was a lot of information to keep us interested. Did you know a Tiger can jump more than 11 feet into the air? Yeah me neither.

Tiger Tracks at Edinburgh Zoo
Tiger Tracks at Edinburgh Zoo

If you’re very quiet you can catch a glimpse of a shy Koala Bear. It’s amazing we’ve come all this way to see a native Australian mammal. Next time we’ll take the shorter trip, ha.

A Koala at Edinburgh Zoo
A Koala at Edinburgh Zoo

Pilrig Park

One of our favourite things to do is walk to parks around where we’re staying. It makes us feel like we’re simply living here rather than acting like tourists. Especially right now we’re seeing Edinburgh in all its autumn glory, and Pilrig Park’s flying fox is better than average – many don’t allow you to get much speed going.

Walking to Pilrig Park
Walking to Pilrig Park
The Flying Fox at Pilrig Park
The Flying Fox at Pilrig Park

Calton Hill

Calton Hill is a great vantage point to see all of the Edinburgh Castle region without all the pomp and circumstance.

An unfinished monument at Calton Hill
An unfinished monument at Calton Hill
Us on the top of Calton Hill
Us on the top of Calton Hill
Welcome to Calton Hill overlooking downtown Edinburgh and Leith
Welcome to Calton Hill overlooking downtown Edinburgh and Leith

One jaunt about a week ago we went back to where we first stayed here in Edinburgh at the Novotel (I still miss that swimming pool and easy access to the tram!) and we hit the huge Tesco there. Ok it’s a bit nuts to go 15km to shop, but we don’t like doing things the easy way.

We like trains, here's us coming back from Tesco from the other side of town
We like trains, here’s us coming back from Tesco from the other side of town

Portobello

Alice had a great idea to go to the beach with all this winter weather going on, and Portobello is just a short bus drive north and east from us here in Leith. Quite a large expanse of beach and quite the contrast from Jurmala in Latvia, temperature-wise. Ok, we froze our butts off but there were lots of dogs and we had heaps of fun.

Our Portobello Beach bus ride and walk
Our Portobello Beach bus ride and walk

I must admit I am always making sure there’s a toilet nearby, but Scotland is pretty crap in this regard. You can count on there not being a toilet closeby when you’re out unless you want to pop into a pub, library or museum and ask the embarrassing, “where’s your dunny?” Just because that’s the name of the blog doesn’t mean it isn’t embarrassing sometimes. 🙂 Portobello Beach had one toilet but we walked all the way to the other end by the time I needed one so I held on for another hour till we got to the playground at Edinburgh Castle where I knew there was a flash toilet. Here’s a toilet sign for the archives:

The sign to the one toilet on Portobello Beach
The sign to the one toilet on Portobello Beach

Edinburgh Castle Playground

The kids played in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle
The kids played in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle
The playground in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle
The playground in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle

Leith River

A river runs through it and Leith is no exception. It’s actually a great landmark – if you hit this river walking west, you know you’ve left the neighborhood of Leith. It’s a pretty sweet river, flowing languidly through this part of town. Every bridge is made of old stone, and every view is good:

The Leith River near the most amazing public library
The Leith River near the most amazing public library

Activities for our kids

We have taken extra effort while we’re here to get the kids involved in evening activities and it’s been fantastic! We’ve heard fewer complaints about museums and “old stuff” every week now that the kids get to go to the Pilmeny Youth Center on Tuesday nights for a 1 pound note each. It’s a sweet gymnasium building in the center of an old church courtyard. Old meeting new yet again, which seems to define Edinburgh itself:

Our kids have a ball at Pilmeny Youth Center
Our kids have a ball at Pilmeny Youth Center

Leaving the kids here for an hour and a half means mom and dad get to go to the pub for a bevvy! This is the first time we’ve done this since we started this trip. Shocking.

Mum and Dad go to a Scottish pub!
Mum and Dad go to a Scottish pub!

Some more old meets new: This church in the middle of the busiest part of Leith (across the street from another Tesco) is also across the street from Leith Links, which has a sweet playground and dog park. I just thought this image was sweet:

A church at Leigh Links walking paths and playground
A church at Leigh Links walking paths and playground

We don’t have many regrets so far on this trip, but one is that we couldn’t buy this hat for Alice, she really loved it but we have no way of taking it with us. Isn’t she cute?!

Alice found this amazing hat at an op shop on Leith Walk
Alice found this amazing hat at an op shop on Leith Walk

Some Local Businesses

I like finding local businesses, and Skoog Music looks very unassuming, but their product is marvellous. A device that looks like a speaker but actually is an engaging musical device.

Offices for online speaker company Skoog
Offices for online speaker company Skoog

We tried Santosa for the kids to give yoga a quick try, it’s just down the street from Skoog Music:

Santosa is a great yoga place, cafe and shop
Santosa is a great yoga place, cafe and shop

We love organic food shops

In a very nice neighborhood on the way to the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens is Earthy, it has the sweet smell of an organic food shop and we all loved it:

Earthy Canonmills health food shop in
Earthy Canonmills health food shop in

We made it to the Royal Botanic Gardens! I’ll post a good story about this and some more pics in my next post.

The entrance to the Botanic Gardens
The entrance to the Botanic Gardens
The following two tabs change content below.

Nathaniel Flick

2 Replies to “Fun in Edinburgh, Koalas and Pandas oh my!”

  1. As a suggestion for the ” Hat” dilemma – could ya post back to NZ? or is that way too expense to contemplate? ….
    Keep up with the Blogs guys I love reading them 🙂 … love and miss you all xxx

Comments are closed.