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Our second edition of Talk Apero and English Evenings on Tour sent us off to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, a city rich in culture, history, traditions and whose stunning architecture continues to amaze me.

23 of us hit the Scottish capital with all the energy we would need for a weekend full of sightseeing, dancing, eating and drinking and very little sleeping.

Here are the highlights of the trip for me:

Friday night took us to a traditional Scottish ceilidh. I wanted the group to be able to experience something typically Scottish and this ceilidh certainly fit the bill. It was held in a local community hall – nothing special, no frills – and was attended by local people, some of them wearing kilts. As soon as we arrived, we took off our coats and got into the swing of things and in no time we were being swung around by our dance partners and laughing as we got the dance steps all wrong. We danced for about an hour, which at a ceilidh is enough to get your pulse racing, and then ended with the traditional ‘Auld Lang Syne’. It was a lot of fun and I’m very grateful that the ceilidh group welcomed us with such open arms.

On Saturday morning we were up early and went to have breakfast on the Royal Mile, one of the main streets running through Edinburgh. The Royal Mile is a Scotts mile in length (1.81km) and runs from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Abbey. Our hostel was just off the Royal Mile, which meant that we were perfectly located for exploring the city.

At 10am we joined our tour guide on the Royal Mile for a walking tour. Although the tour was very informative, it didn’t involve a lot of walking and our guide was not particularly pleasant… Needless to say we didn’t leave her a tip.

After the tour we went to relax for a little while in a beer garden in the Grassmarket. The weather whilst we were in Edinburgh was fantastic. There was a cold wind but we had almost wall-to-wall sunshine the whole time we were there. When the sun is out, what is more enjoyable than a beer garden, good beer and great company?

After the beer garden we headed on up to the Castle. At £17 per person, we decided not to go inside the castle but just to look at the stunning views that the Castle offers. Some of us then walked the Scots mile down to the bottom of the Royal Mile to have a quick look at the Scottish Parliament, a very modern building that, apparently, not many Scots are that fond of.

Three of us then set off to climb Arthur’s Seat, something that I have never done despite the fact that I lived in Edinburgh for 3 years. I went up with François and Michaël and was impressed that François managed to get up easily with his broken arm. The climb up is not really difficult but in some places you need good balance. I was, however, even more impressed to see that a woman had somehow managed to scramble her way to the top of Arthur’s seat in what were probably 4-inch platform sandals!

After our quick scramble up and down Arthur’s Seat, it was back to the hostel to get ready for the evening’s activities. It was Marie’s 30th birthday on Saturday and so we had planned a surprise meal for her at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant: Jamie’s Kitchen. Verdict: great food, nice atmosphere, and very accommodating waiters – would definitely go back.

After the meal some of us went to a bar and then on to a club where we danced away to the extremely loud music blaring out from the speaker just above our heads.

We were fairly early to rise on Sunday with a mix of croaky voices and ringing ears as a result of the loud music from the night before. We had breakfast and then set off to walk up to Calton Hill to marvel at the views from up there, which did not disappoint.

We had a bit of a rest in the sun in Princes Street Gardens before heading back to the Royal Mile to meet our guide for our Underground Tour. This tour was far from the experience we had had on Saturday. Our guide was both informative and humorous – the perfect combination, in my opinion.

After thanking our guide it was time for me to rush off as I had a train to catch back.

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Edinburgh was a lot of fun. As there were 23 of us on the trip, it was inevitable that we would all eventually branch off into smaller groups but we did spend a lot of time together as one big team. I’d like to say a big thank you to Team Edinburgh – it was a great weekend and an experience that I’m sure we will repeat soon.

The burning question is: where to next?

Any suggestions?

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