Lifestyle: Things to do in Edinburgh

 photo 2013-08-13172902_zpsa0a9f626.jpgLast year I visited Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, so due to shows and the sheer amount of people about I didn’t see that much of Edinburgh. This year we travelled up for a few days during June (luckily coinciding with the heatwave, though my shoulders think otherwise!) and were able to see a little more, do a few more touristy things and generally relax. Kind of, we still packed loads into a few days! Here’s what we got up to…

Visit to the Zoo

On our first day we let our inner child out and went to the zoo! I’m not a huge fan of zoos in general as I hate seeing animals caged up, but I was really impressed with Edinburgh. The enclosures were large, but there was also hidden bits so the animals weren’t on show – they could escape from the public if necessary. The highlight of our visit can’t be singled down to one thing – we loved the Penguin Parade (the door to the enclosure is opened, and any penguins that want to join in and walked around the path, they aren’t bribed in any way) and also viewing the Pandas.
 photo Meerkat1_zpsfa7467ac.jpg photo Rhino_zpsde59c4cd.jpg photo Panda2_zpscb114121.jpg photo Panda1_zpsd7eb8bfc.jpg photo Koala_zps1af43b7c.jpg photo Leopard_zps1d30e317.jpg photo Penguins2_zpse000410e.jpg photo Penguins1_zps61558ac6.jpg photo Penguins3_zpsac24804d.jpg photo William_zpsf7bc0117.jpgVisiting the zoo cost us £14 each, with student discount and including a voluntary contribution. We took a picnic (always do this – also nowhere seemed to be open to eat so we are glad we did!), and the Panda viewing was free but time allocated. We spent a good 4 and a half hours there and still didn’t see everything, so you definitely get your monies worth. We got there on the bus, which was another £3.50 each from the city centre, although we could then use any bus for the rest of the day. Definitely worth the money in my opinion!

Visit a Whisky Distillery

Last year we escaped the rain/cold of Edinburgh in August and visited The Scotch Whisky Experience near the Castle. Whilst we really enjoyed this we decided we wanted something a little less touristy this year, so opted to visit a working distillery. We went to the Glenkinchie Distillery, about 40 minutes drive from the city. They run a transport-inclusive tour during peak months, which is the option we went for, and we also opted for the Flavour of Scotland Tour, which meant we were able to taste four different drams of whisky (of our choice) – I highly recommend this one, as we were able to really define our own tastes. I now know which whiskies I would happily ask for!

 photo 2014-06-29162935_zps3e20f045.jpgThe whole distillery was a great experience, we had a wonderful guide (thanks Fraser!) who was knowledgeable, honest and really knew his whisky. It cost us £24 each, including transport, four tastings and a discount on purchases (we bought a signed-by-manufacturing-staff bottle of Glenkinchie whisky) – not the cheapest day out, but well worth the money.

Climb Arthur’s Seat

One for the fit people this; I highly recommend those who aren’t completely comfortable with long walks and hills to give this a miss. I like to think I’m in relatively good shape (though definite room for improvement) but I really struggled on our walk, though in my defence I think we picked the hardest route, and it was really, really warm! The week of our holiday was when Edinburgh suffered a heatwave; none of my packed jumpers were used, and my boyfriend actually had to take a trip to buy some shorts.

 photo ArthursSeat8_zps0e1ef2c3.jpg photo ArthursSeat6_zpsfbc704d2.jpg photo ArthursSeat2_zpsbb5f33df.jpg photo ArthursSeat5_zps48e841ea.jpg photo ArthursSeat4_zpsdd66d163.jpg photo ArthursSeat1_zps1e89b3f7.jpgAlthough the walk was difficult, and involved climbing/scrambling at some points, despite me wanting to give up multiple times, I really enjoyed it and the sense of achievement at the top was wonderful. The views were pretty fabulous too! For a free thing to do (minus the bright blue slushie I wangled from my boyfriend on return to the bottom!) it was one of the best things I’ve done in a while, and I kindof want to do it all again. If you are up to it, I highly recommend you give this a go!

Other Things to Do

  • Visit the Castle. We didn’t do this as we felt the pricing was, to be honest, taking the Michael. £16 is fair enough although a bit steep, offering no student discount is a little stingy, especially when discounts are offered to other customers. I’d love to visit at some point, but I wasn’t giving up nice weather on top of my money! Perhaps one for a rainy day…
  • Shop. Edinburgh has some lovely unique shops (post to come!) as well as some lovely high-end designer ones. I tend not to shop much when on holiday, so only nipped into Harvey Nichols to use the loos (which were, quite frankly, disgustingly unclean, and some of the worst toilets I’ve used!) and browse the makeup clearance (disappointing). I make a point of visiting independent shops that look interesting, hence I adore the street Hula Juice Bar is on.
  • Eat. I’m slowly posting reviews of where we ate over our holiday, but Edinburgh has some amazing places. We treat ourselves to two ‘posh’ meals (one was an unbelievable bargain!), and also had a couple of cheaper ones – I still have a long list of places I want to try too!
  • Bus Tour. Last year we did one of those expensive guided bus tours – we really enjoyed it, and even during the Fringe it was surprisingly empty, so a great way to get away from the crowds. The thrifty person inside me knows it would be a lot cheaper to buy a day ticket at £3.50 each and do things that way, but would it be as fun? Probably not! If you’re new to Edinburgh I’d definitely recommend a tour, if you’ve been before try doing it yourself!
  • Museums & Galleries. Edinburgh has loads of these too! Many of them are free, or ask for a voluntary donation. I’ve only been in the free one towards the bottom of the Royal Mile, and it was a small but really interesting place. Lovely and quiet (and cool!), full of unique little objects and to-the-point information boards. The building and its interior were also old and historic too, which added to the feel; something about history museums in more modern buildings really annoys me. I also want to visit the visitors section of the Parliament building too (we stayed opposite – amazing architecture!) but the only time we had free we were pulling our suitcases so decided that wouldn’t be a good plan!

Do you prefer active city trips, lazy beach holidays or a mixture?

Beauty: Holiday Makeup

 photo 2014-06-16124732_zpsfb9ccb4f.jpgBeing in a long-distance relationship means I have packing down to a fine art. I can (and do!) pack in a rush, using one small suitcase for everything, with just uni work crammed into a satchel. I do admit that in the past few months I’ve become lazy with this packing, and now have a drawer at my boyfriends full of essential bits and pieces – but that’s another post!  Having booked a short break in Edinburgh after my exams finished, I knew that I didn’t want to take too much with me beauty wise as clothes would take up a lot of room – packing for Scotland is so difficult as you have to prepare for all weathers. As it turned out, it was lovely to be part of the heatwave last week, though slightly annoying that the jumpers/jeans/coat I packed never left the case!

So, my makeup bag was pretty restricted, but I reckon I did pretty well – I used everything I took with me, and didn’t really find myself lacking anything. Apart from aftersun for the horrific sunburn we both received…

 photo 2014-06-16123430_zps974ab0d7.jpgOne of the best things I’ve bought has to be this bag of miniature bottles from Wilkinson’s. By far the cheapest I have found, and really good quality too. The only thing I was slightly disappointed was all three bottles have the same type of dispenser, which wasn’t the best for liquids such as toner. But still, excellent value! I can’t find the link online, but there’s loads still available in my local store at a reduced price of £1.

 photo 2014-06-16123512_zps1220cca0.jpgFor hair products (I made my boyfriend pack a suitable shower gel for the both of us – he bought the tooth paste too!) I decanted my favourite shampoo/conditioner duo into the smaller bottles. ASDA’s Jojoba range is something I have used for many years, and at 80p for big bottles its by far the best cheap haircare I’ve come across. The shampoo is slightly too drying (I prefer something without sulphates…but generally only just after my student loan has been paid!) so I tend to mix it into some conditioner for washing, and then condition as normal. Styling wise I filled one of the little tubs in the set with some Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Cream – something which I’ve mixed views about. Sometimes I love it, sometimes its far too sticky. But you only need a tiny amount, and this tub has been on the go for over a year so its worth trying!

 photo 2014-06-16123612_zps8752f30d.jpgSkincare wise, I obviously took a cloth and my beloved Dr Organics Pomegranate Soap – I never go anywhere without it! I used more mini bottles and took some Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water (highly recommend this for removing eye/lip makeup, though I don’t use it on the whole of my face) and Pixi Glow Tonic (love this stuff!). Since this post I’ve simplified my moisturisers, so took Garnier’s Ultra-Hydrating Cream in a little post to use as a night cream, and their Illuminating Light Lotion for use during the day. I can’t recommend these products enough, the lotion is the best facial SPF I’ve used, and the cream is so moisturising. Just for a head’s up – they are generally cheapest in Wilkinsons! I’ve also been using Nuxe Reve de Miel every night – its the perfect lip balm, my lips have never looks so good!

 photo 93fe0700-9627-47a4-bfb0-9ace1e8b3cbc_zps19cb73aa.jpgNow onto the exciting bit – makeup! I’ve grabbed the Everyday Makeup Essentials that I’ve already talked about, and then added in a few little extras. Bourjois Java Rice Powder to add even more of a glow – this was great dusted over sunburn as it really calmed the glare of red! One of MUA’s neutral palettes (this is one that lives at my boyfriends!) to add definition to my eyes for romantic meals – I can’t say I’m in love with the quality of these palettes, given the £4 price tag its fine for holidays but realistically it’s going to be nowhere near as good as higher ends, and it does irritate my eyes a little! I bought an eyeshadow brush for 50p from Wilkinson’s to take with my as I find my beloved Bodyshop versions don’t travel so well (I didn’t want to take my whole brush roll with me!) and for the price it did a great job.

 photo 2014-06-16154940_zps3aa45519.jpgOnto lips (my favourite part!) and I took 4 bits with me – two Revlon Matte Balms in Sultry and Standout, and two MUA Power Pout’s in Rendezvous and Broken Hearted. Both of these products are so, so lovely. The Matte Balms are going to get some serious wear when I start work as they look so professional (being matte) but also last forever. I love the glossy finish of the MUA offerings and they leave a lasting stain too. Rendezvous is a seriously underused colour – admittedly it looks disgusting but ends up being a lovely pink/coral toned neutral on the lips. Its what I reach for when I’m not quite sure what to wear, and I’m tempted to buy one for every handbag as it does go with every outfit!
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And that’s it! What makeup do you take on holiday?