Calton Hill – the best place to watch the sunset in Edinburgh

Why Calton Hill is the place to be to watch the sunset over Edinburgh

Watching the sunset over Edinburgh from Calton Hill

I'm ashamed to say it took us nine months before we actually got up Calton Hill at all, let alone to see the sunset

When we first moved to Edinburgh we came up with my Mum and one of Daz's best friends, who had lived in Edinburgh for years. Daz and I were talking about all of the things we were excited to see and do, and mentioned wanting to watch the sunset from Arthur's Seat. His friend told us that while it's pretty good, the party is at Calton Hill because it's closer to the city. (He didn't say "the party is at" because no one says that, apart from me...on the internet.)

And he was right. And it seems everyone else in Edinburgh, nay, the world, knows about Calton Hill and how incredible the views are at sunset because the place was packed. The nice thing was that it seemed to be full of both locals and tourists. While it might be a tourist attraction, it seems the locals love it too. 

For me, the best thing about seeing the sunset from Calton Hill is that you can walk the whole way around it. So you get a 360 view of the sun setting over the city. If you've ever been to Edinburgh, you'll know that the skyline is so diverse. You look one way and you can see the beautiful, old city, the castle, and the Balmoral Hotel dominating your view. And then you can turn around and see hills and mountains lurking on the edge of Edinburgh. If you turn around some more, you can see the Firth of Forth and the North Sea. 

I go on about Canada and Vancouver a lot but it's recently occurred to me that Edinburgh and Vancouver have a fair bit in common when it comes to the city and their surroundings. 

I'm going to leave you in the capable hands of Google Maps, Lothian Buses, and some more of my photos to convince you that you need to come to Edinburgh and watch the sunset from Calton Hill. And maybe you should come this summer and take a picnic. I feel like a picnic on Calton Hill, with the sky painted like fire would be incredible. 

How to get to Calton Hill

*Announcer voice* On your right you will see a walking route to Calton Hill from Waverley Station. The train station is pretty central to Edinburgh, and after Avengers Infinity War, I feel like everyone's gonna be checking out the train station anyway so...y'know. It's a short walk, though I would give yourself double the time because you'll probably want to keep stopping on the way to take photos. It definitely takes me double the time to get most places in Edinburgh because I'm constantly whipping my camera out and saying to Daz "LOOK AT THE CHERRY BLOSSOM" "LOOK AT THAT DOOR" "IT LOOKS LIKE HOGSMEDE!" 

The bus service in Edinburgh is astonishingly good and cheap. If you don't fancy the walk, head over to the Lothian Buses website where they have a nifty tool that can tell you what bus to get and where. OR you could get the Lothian Buses app for your phone, which is probably easier to use - especially when you're out and about. Buses cost £1.70 for a single journey or £4.00 for a day ticket - that will get you on as many Lothian Buses as you want all day. 

If you have a car and are visiting Edinburgh, I recommend leaving it wherever you've managed to park it. We (that's the royal we because I did not drive) have driven in Edinburgh a handful of times and it isn't worth the hassle or the extortionate parking fees. Either walk in, park and ride if you're staying out of the city, or just hop on the bus. 

Purple, pink and orange sunset from Calton Hill over Edinburgh Castle and The Balmoral

Silhouettes of cranes against the sunset in Edinburgh

Sunset over the Firth of Forth from Calton Hill

Sunset over Edinburgh and the Blackford Hills

Sunset sky behind The Balmoral, Edinburgh, taken from Calton Hill

Watching the sunset over Edinburgh from Calton Hill

Have you been up Calton Hill? Are you going to? Should we have a blogging picnic on Calton Hill? LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Follow:

Two weeks of living in Edinburgh | 7 things I’ve learned

The view of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Today marks two weeks since we moved up to Edinburgh and it still doesn’t feel entirely real; it feels like we’re on the laziest holiday ever and might return to our “old lives” at some point.

It’s been just over four months since we found out we were moving up to Edinburgh and it has gone so fast. Thankfully the move, sorting out a flat, and getting jobs went very smoothly. Both of us have just started work but I don’t think it’s going to feel like this is our actual life until we settle into a work and university routine.

I was expecting to come up here and end up writing a really deep or meaningful post about what it’s like to move 270 miles away from the place you lived your entire life but I can’t. At the moment, it just hasn’t sunk in yet, so instead I’m going to talk about some of the things I’ve learned since being up here.

 

There is so much going on & to see

Neither of us are big city people, but I don’t feel like Edinburgh is a big city; geographically, sure it is, but it doesn’t feel overwhelming or stressful. I think the old buildings make it feel a little cosier and less imposing too.

We arrived at the end of the Fringe Festival and managed to see Thrones! The Musical Parody which had us all in stitches – GoT fans, if you ever have chance, see it. We spent a couple of days walking around the city and making mental lists of the museums and exhibits we want to see, and record stores we need to keep out of because money.

 

Bands don’t play Edinburgh

WHY?! Why don’t bands play big venues in Edinburgh? I have three gigs booked over the next few months and they are all in Glasgow.

Buses are cheap as

Where we used to live, public transport was a bit of a nightmare and was pretty impractical the majority of the time. Around here, it’s easier to hop on a bus than to try and drive around and park in the city; buses are £1.60. ONE. POUND. SIXTY. Damn, that is cheap.

Is it really sad that I’m excited about that?

 

Damn, Scotland is beautiful

Edinburgh is a beautiful city itself, and wherever you seem to look you can see mountains in the distance and you can be up in those mountains in no time at all. Last weekend, Daz and I took a drive around the Highlands and I was reminded of how stunning Scotland is. And, in case you’d missed it, Scotland has just been voted the most beautiful country in the world, and Canada came in second – can you believe that? Am I going to end up in love with Scotland more than Canada? Perish the thought.

 

We can’t understand everyone – and they can’t understand us

You never think you have an accent until you’re surrounded by people with completely different accents. A chap came out from OpenReach to sort our internet out last week and when he started talking fast we were not entirely sure what he was saying.

On the other hand, people haven’t always been able to understand us either. We went out for dinner last week and I ordered macaroni cheese but ended up with a beef burger…

 

Veggie haggis might become 70% of my diet

I’ve tried vegetarian haggis before (it’s delicious) but now I’m living here and I can buy it in Tesco I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with it. Most restaurants or cafes you go to have some kind of veggie haggis on the menu too; it is a delightful change from the standard tomato sauce and pasta.

 

It’s nice having a smaller place

One of the biggest things I was worried about was downsizing. We moved from a good sized two-bed terrace to a two-bed flat. While I’m still trying not to walk into the corners of the bed when I walk around it, it’s nice to have a more compact space. Truth be told, we didn’t need all the space we had before and cleaning is easier and faster – go, lazy me!

What did you learn when you moved to a new place?

Follow:

We’re moving to Edinburgh!

View over Edinburgh from Edinburgh castle

Last week, we got the news we’d be waiting on since the start of February; the University of Edinburgh made me an offer on the best masters course I’d found.

I cannot tell you how many times I have refreshed my emails over the past two months, or how many times I’ve logged into their applicant hub hoping to see an update. The stress and hassle of my current university who don’t seem to understand what an interim transcript is and my tutor and I having to make one because they’re so useless. The anxiety Daz and I have had, stressing about how close it was getting and all the things we need to do and we still don’t have a decision. It was all lifted. I could have cried; but I didn’t because I am not human.

Well, I say the stress was lifted. It was and it was quickly replaced with a load more stress and things that need sorting.

Daz and I spent a few days in Edinburgh towards the end of last year when they had a postgraduate open day and we both fell in love with the place. I love Scotland, I love Edinburgh and the university was everything I thought it would be and more. Some of the buildings look like they’re straight out of Hogwarts; which I guess they kinda are since J. K. Rowling was living in Edinburgh when she started writing the books.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

The course is my dream course. Friends and family kept asking me if I’d applied anywhere else and I kept saying “no, because no where else does a course that is anywhere like this one. I have to get in because everything else seems pointless in comparison.” It was, of course, the most expensive course I could have applied for but the way I see it is that it would have been a waste of money doing a cheaper course because it wouldn’t get me where I want to be. The optional modules are all so exciting and I CAN DO A MODULE ON FORESTS! I cannot tell you how excited I am for that. I love forests.

Having lived in my hometown all my life, I’ve visited places and yearned to experience what it would be like to live somewhere else. Especially somewhere so fancy-looking, I mean Edinburgh has a huge castle on a hill (Ed Sheeran?) that is always in the corner of your eyes. What I also like about Edinburgh is that it isn’t so busy that it overwhelms me and stresses me out; though I’m told it will be completely different when the Fringe Festival is on.

I’m looking forward to living somewhere new but I am very comfortable where I am, as is Daz. The thing I am most nervous about is leaving my current job and finding a new one. I love the people I work with, it’s like a family. I am worried that wherever I end up working in Scotland (Hard Rock Cafe, I’m coming for you…goals) won’t feel quite the same.

Of course I will also miss my family and friends. There are plenty of ways for us to keep in touch though, and none of them appear remotely unhappy about the prospect of visiting us in Edinburgh.

It’s a really exciting next chapter that seems full of a lot of unknowns at the moment but I’m sure things will become clearer over the next few months. We’re also both seriously excited about getting to explore Scotland on our days off because it is all kinds of beautiful.

It sure is a weight off.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Follow:

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

I have a bit of a thing for finding a high point in a city so that I can look over it, and get a good view of the whole city. When we went to Edinburgh in April, a trek up Arthur’s Seat was at the top of my list.

We were blessed with a gloriously sunny, fairly still day, which made the trip even more enjoyable. 

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

To start with, we got lost trying to find the top. There were a couple of paths, but no clear signs, so we followed the one that looked most used. 

It turned out that it wasn’t quite the path we wanted, as this one just went around Arthur’s Seat instead of up it. We weren’t going to complain though because it provided us with beautiful views over Edinburgh, including the glorious Edinburgh Castle. 

Edinburgh Castle from Arthur's Seat

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Interesting fact: In the photo above, on the right hand side, in the grass, you can kinda see a couple who were full on going at it. 

View over Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

After getting about halfway round on the path well worn, we decided to turn back around and went in hunt of the path up to the top. We found it, and it turned out to be a little treacherous. You know the kind of path that just looks like it’s desperate to break one of your ankles? 

On the way up we were passed by a bloke who was running. He was running up something that I was out of breath from just walking up! It was so steep. Major props to him, he must have been fit as a fiddle. 

At the top, we were treated to spectacular views over Edinburgh. 

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

We sat at the top for a while and drank in the view. I love being able to view a city from above, you spot things that you don’t see while your wandering around the streets. 

I always find that memories of cities from afar, like this one, tend to stick with me a little more than 

Do you like seeing places from above? 

Follow:

Edinburgh Castle + the Hard Rock Cafe

Edinburgh Castle at night

Edinburgh Castle in the day

Edinburgh Castle is a majestic looking thing; it sits perched on a rock watching over the city. 

The castle looks pretty impressive from the front but when you go in through the castle gates, or see it from down on Princes Street, you realise how big it is.

It’s a huge, sprawling castle with paths that take you off in different directions.

My favourite part of any castle is never the inside. It’s the grounds, where you get to look at the beautiful buildings and down on the area surrounding it. It’s in moments like that where I can imagine for a second what it would have been like to live in the castle in it’s heyday.

View of Edinburgh from Edinburgh Castle

View of Edinburgh from the castle

The most impressive thing inside the castle was actually something you aren’t allowed to take photos of; the crown jewels.

They were absolutely stunning and every bit as lavish as you expect they would be, but annoyingly it was very, very busy in that particular room. That’s understandable, of course everyone wants to see the sparklies, but I think perhaps there should be a system in place where only a certain amount of people can go in at a time.

After we’d finished at the castle we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner. I do not consider that I’ve actually been to a country if I haven’t visited the Hard Rock Cafe there and I their collect t-shirts / hoodies.

The staff at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh were great and as usual, they complied with my awkward request to have the twisted mac n’ cheese without the chicken and as usual, it was amazeballs. (There I finally said it in a sentence!)

I also surprised myself by trying something new (I don’t do that very often at all); a strawberry and basil lemonade. It was delicious, I keep meaning to try to make my own.

I completely forgot to take a picture of the Hard Rock Cafe itself because I was distracted by this beautiful building next door. I think it was a fancy restaurant. I don’t really care what it is, to be honest, because look at how beautiful it looks with all those Christmas lights on it.

 

Save

Follow:

15 photos to inspire you to visit Morocco

15 photos to inspire you to visit Morocco - watching the sunrise in the Sahara Desert, Zagora.

Riding camels in the Sahara desert at sunrise

Sunrise in the Sahara Desert, Zagora, Morocco.

Ait Benhaddou, Morocco

A tourist shop in Ait Ben Haddou

A village in the Imlil valley, Morocco

View across the Imlil valley towards Toubkal from Asni.

Moroccan decor at Dar Imlil

Red door in Marrakech

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech

Bahia Palace, Marrakech

Le Jardin Secret Marrakech

Le Jardin Secret, Marrakech

View over Essaouira from the rampartsA street in the Essaouira market

My trip to Morocco is a perfect example of why it's good to be pushed out of your comfort zone. It isn't a place Daz or I would have considered visiting (primarily because it's not Canada, duh), and I'm so glad we had the chance to go there. 

Whenever anyone asks us how our trip to Morocco was, the first thing we say is "different" or "an experience" because it was. Never before have I had to try not to get run over by scooters, tuk-tuks, horse and carriages, donkeys with carts, or hundreds of people all at the same time - but it's a new skill we acquired in Morocco, and I think I'm going to put that on my LinkedIn profile. It was exciting to explore a completely different culture and the architecture was stunning. There is a good reason you keep seeing pretty doors from Morocco popping up on Pinterest and Instagram.  

I spent two weeks in Morocco in total. The first was part of a field trip with my university, where we spent our time in the beautiful mountains and valleys of Imlil, which is about an hour and a half outside Marrakech. (And well worth visiting if you have the time.) We got to play in rivers, play with soil, wander around, do some science, and spot mountain goats. After that, I spent a couple of days with my friends, where we endured the sweatiest ride to the desert ever. They then went on to explore Fez and Chefchouan, while Daz and I chilled in Marrakech, and took a day trip to Essaouira/Game of Thrones. And, to our surprise, we did not get lost inside Marrakech's medina - which is impressive given I can get lost five minutes from home. 

Morocco is a huge country and I think you could easily spend a month exploring the country, and you still might not get to see everything in that time. I would have loved to have seen Chefchouan (it's that beautiful blue city you keep seeing on Instagram) but given the short amount of time I didn't fancy a such a long bus ride there for such a short visit. It is doable to visit Chefchouan from Marrakech in three days if you really want to - I just needed time to unwind a little and not be rushed. 

It is really cheap to stay and eat in Marrakech, and the flights from the UK are quite decently priced as well. We couldn't fly from Edinburgh and had to go out of Manchester - you can get flights from Edinburgh but it looks like they are all indirect. 

Have you ever been to Morocco before? Is it on your list?

Follow:

Well, that blogging break got out of hand quickly

Sunset from Calton Hill, Edinburgh

My domain renewal came through a couple of weeks ago, and I realised I hadn’t written a blog post since the middle of January. There was never any question of me not renewing it at all – blogging is something I think I will always do, but it has to take a back seat sometimes. 

I definitely did not intend to take any kind of break. As some of you will have read, I’m currently doing a masters degree. I thought I did pretty well during the first semester of juggling everything but I was not prepared for how hectic the second semester would be. 

Our course secretary emailed us at the start of the year saying as much. Naively, I thought “well, last semester was alright, so one extra module can’t make it that much worse.” WRONG. So, wrong. 

Before I knew it, I was up to my eyeballs in deadlines and trying to figure out how to get those essays done, find times for group meetings (that’s always fun/impossible), work on my dissertation in the background, earn money, and generally live and be happy. 

None of this is one of those apology posts, where I promise not to do it again and that I’ll post three times a week. I miss the personal side of blogging and I want to try and bring some of that back onto Girl In Awe. Now the taught part of my masters is finished, I do have a bit more time and I’m planning to ease back into blogging because I missed it. Definitely not promising any number of posts a week though – we’re gonna roll with the punches here. 

Over the next few weeks, there should be some posts about my recent trip to Morocco and some things about doing a masters course (if you have any questions about that, let me know), and something about a quarter-life crisis – y’know, standard stuff. I am fairly active on the ol’ Instagram though – despite my love-hate relationship with it, so you can keep up to date with me there. 

How have you been? 

Follow: