After a year of being confined to our student houses, unable to see one another, as restrictions began to ease I was able to take a trip to Scotland in May to visit a friend from school whom I hadn’t seen in over a year. It was exciting to be out in the world again, able to travel to a place I had never visited and explore more of the northern regions of the U.K, an activity that has been curbed during my time at York as a result of Covid-19. The prospect of discovering a new city with such a rich history filled me with joy as I rode the train passing through the rolling hills of the northeast coast. On a clear blue morning, there are moments on this voyage when you feel it might be possible to touch the sea, the scenery is exquisite.
A direct train gets you to Edinburgh Waverly in 2.5 hours, though the fare from York is not the cheapest. As a student, I was able to use my 16-25 railcard, which makes trips like these more manageable on a budget. I arrived in Edinburgh at about 11:30 am and met my friend outside the station. It was lovely to see her after so much time. We initially walked along Princes Street, one of the most well-known streets in the city, and then through the gardens adjoining it catching up. Set below the ‘Old Town’, the stunning Gothic architecture towered above us as we walked along the street and through the gardens. Set at the heart of the Old Town, we could see Edinburgh Castle, the home of the Scottish crown jewels, perched above us on Castle Rock. The walk along Princes Street encapsulated the beauty of the city for me instantly and I couldn’t wait to see where we would go next.
Having seen it online, we then elected to find Victoria Street with its famed colourful row of buildings. We entered the ‘Old Town’ and were met with cobbled sloping streets with connecting alleyways and staircases, creating the picturesque impression of Edinburgh you traditionally imagine when you think of the city. Before finding Victoria Street, my friend took me to see the incredible view of Edinburgh from Castle Rock, the extinct volcano upon which Edinburgh Castle stands. The panoramic view of the city gained from the height of Castle Rock offered a beautiful view of the city itself and Arthur’s Seat (the iconic hill that sits behind the city) beyond. Wowed by the view, we walked back towards the High Street that connects the Castle to the rest of the city and found a winding staircase that led us down to Victoria Street. The buildings were very picturesque and it is definitely a great photo opportunity for Instagram lovers!
Unfortunately, it then began to rain, so after a bit of searching we found a small Italian restaurant in Grass-Market just off Victoria Street. I had a margarita pizza which tasted amazing and was reasonably priced. Thankfully, when we came out it had stopped raining, so we began walking back toward Princes Street to walk around the gardens for an hour before our booking at Coro’s Chocolate Café, a place famed for its all-chocolate menu. Whilst walking we found some souvenir shops on the High Street, where I bought a fridge magnet and a few key rings to take home to my family. We arrived at Coro’s in the late afternoon and were overwhelmed by the smell of chocolate that hit us as soon as we entered. I ordered chocolate pancakes and my friend ordered chocolate waffles. It was all very reasonably priced, chocolaty and wonderful!
By the time we’d finished eating in Coro’s it was nearing the time for me to catch the train back. We took a slow walk back to the railway station. It was sad to say bye as we still had so much more to catch up on but it was still so lovely to have been able to see each other! Although I was unable to see some of the other main tourist attractions in Edinburgh such as Arthur’s Seat, I would definitely make the trip back to Edinburgh again and stay for longer. I would recommend visiting the city if you study in York and haven’t been before, I fell in love with the architecture and atmosphere of the city, people were very friendly and the cost of visiting was doable on a student budget.
Author: Katy Leverett