Weekend in Edinburgh: Christmas Markets and Meeting Zoella

At the beginning of December, we kicked off our festivities with a trip to the Edinburgh Christmas Market. As it’s open until January 6th, we thought we’d share our weekend with those of you who are looking to welcome the New Year in Edinburgh or are simply not over Christmas just yet!

After an early morning train, we arrived in the city in need of some serious energy. After Googling ‘best pancakes in Edinburgh’, we discovered Loudons, a cool cafe and bakery in Fountainbridge. All of their cakes are made on-site and whilst they looked amazing, we wanted something a little more substantial after our early start. We ordered a pot of tea, a latte, and a cappuccino between us, along with three pancake specials (forrest fruits and white chocolate) and one french toast with bacon. It was a little pricey but we loved the bright, open space of Loudons and it was a lovely start to our weekend.

We then decided to explore Edinbrugh a little more and headed for Princes Street. After popping into a few shops and stalking Zoella’s Instagram story, our boyfriends dragged us up Calton Hill which actually turned out to be a prime selfie spot. We wandered around the monuments and took in the wonderful views of the city. Edinburgh is the perfect mix of old and new; the historic buildings integrate perfectly with innovative architecture and from Calton Hill we were able to appreciate its full beauty.

We then ventured up the Royal Mile (our favourite part of the city) and popped by the castle. After listening to some bagpipes and soaking up the atmosphere, we headed down to the Grassmarket where we stumbled across the most amazing gift shop, Museum Context. I felt like we had apparated to Diagon Alley when greeted with the magical mayhem of Harry Potter merchandise and memorabilia. I wanted everything in sight! Our boyfriends had suffered a chorus of “Zoella would love it here” and “I wonder if she’s been here yet” and so when we exited the store and turned the corner to see the whole Youtube gang in the flesh, we were (for once) lost for words.

We had been joking about this moment all day but when it arrived, we didn’t know what to do. They were busy petting a little dog and so we hung back, but thankfully the lovely Mark Ferris spotted us and invited us over. Mark immediately went “Oooh, twins!” before complimenting our coats and asking us if we were enjoying Edinburgh. We asked if they’d enjoyed their week and they explained that they had came the previous year (we said “ooh really?” as if we hadn’t watched every vlog). They’d just gotten off a tour bus and were grabbing some lunch in Pumpkin Brown and we told them they should pop into Museum Context if they have a chance. They were so sweet and down-to-earth. We decided not to ask for a photo as we didn’t want to make them feel like a commodity and we were so grateful just to have a chat with them!

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Soon it was time to find a spot for lunch and after browsing a thousand menus, we decided to separate. Lauren and Matthew went to Costa and warmed up with festive lattes and their new macaroni and cheese (it’s delicious). Joe and I wanted to try somewhere new and visited Vapiano, a beautiful restaurant with a buzzing ambiance. Set across several different floors, there are food stations where pasta, pizzas, antipasti and salads are ordered directly from the chefs.  They then prepare all of the dishes in front of you, meaning that your favorite meals can be created and then individually refined.  You then sit on long oak tables that are decorated with herb gardens which are not just for decoration!

I loved being able to watch my dish come together and be offered different options along the way. I changed the ricotta cheese in my pesto pasta to paramesan, and added some chilli and garlic to Joe’s king prawn dish. They were fresh, delicious, and beautifully presented. We couldn’t believe how reasonably priced our meals were and were delighted that we had discovered such a gem.

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We then went to meet the rest of the gang at the Christmas Market. It was unbelievably busy and we endured about half an hour of the crush before deciding to call back at quieter time. We stopped by our favourite Wetherspoons, The Booking Office, for a few Kopperbergs before checking into our hotel that was just across the street, the Motel One Edinburgh Royal. The hotel was beautiful and perfect for our stay. We loved the open fire in the bar and blue tartan decor- it was uber stylish and super cosy. We couldn’t believe how fortunate we were considering that the hotel had been much cheaper than the Travelodge! The staff were also super helpful and kept our bags for us whilst we were out exploring and even let us check in early. We could have easily stayed the whole week!

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After reapplying some lippy, we ventured up the Royal Mile for tea, eventually choosing Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, a restaurant where Joseph and I celebrated our anniversary a few years back. It was just as cosy as I remembered and the steak pie was equally as delicious. We continued the festivities in The Mitre Bar which was full of Christmas shoppers enjoying the live artist and Scottish beer. Our night finished in the hotel bar where we prepared ourselves to do it all over again the next day.

We decided that the morning was the perfect opportunity to explore the Christmas Market sans the tourist crush. Our breakfast therefore consisted of the best waffles known to mankind with lashings of Nutella and some Iron Bru to wash it down (I literally had sugar shakes).

After working our way around the stalls and watching people much braver than us on the fairground rides, we grabbed some cheesy potatos with sausage and headed for the balcony of the pop-up bar. The views were spectacular and the cider was fruity. We took some selfies before taking refuge in Jenners, a department store with the most spectacular Christmas tree.

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After warming up, we once again braved the cold on our trek to The Printing Press, an uber plush bar that is opposite The Dome. From our window seat, we had a lovely views of the notorious bar’s festive decorations, making it the perfect place to discuss our plans for the Christmas period.

After some TripAdvisor research, we headed to Bread Meats Bread, a restaurant that seemed to be Scotland’s equivalent of Fat Hippo. We ordered the Cali burger, described as their cult classic with mustard fried layers of thin burger patties topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions and secret sauce. Whilst the patties weren’t as thin as anticipated, the fries were amazing and the grilled cheese toasties looked divine.

We then headed back to the station for a our train journey home. Much to my horror, the next morning I realised that my purse was missing and so contacted every establishment we had visited, including the train station and train providers. A week went by and I began to accept that my beloved purse was a goner. However, a matter of hours after ordering a replacement Nandos card, I received a phone call from The Principal hotel, informing me that they had found my purse. We hadn’t visited the hotel during our stay, but it’s next door to The Printing Press on George Street and therefore somehow my purse had found its way there. As a gesture of goodwill in the festive period, they shipped in back to me for free. It was the perfect end to the perfect trip and I can’t thank The Principal enough for restoring my festive faith!

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We love exploring new cities and are in the process of drawing up a list of places to visit in 2018. Let us know if you have any recommendations!

Love,

Lauren and Rachel xx

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