Eat & Explore Scotland: Haggis, Royal Mile & Edinburgh Castle

I'm back in Boston with sore legs and a few extra pounds, after a week exploring London and Edinburgh. Scotland was our second stop, but I wanted to share some photos with the trip fresh on my mind.
Post 1 - Edinburgh train
Instead of taking the ~1 hour flight from London to Edinburgh, we opted for the 5 hour "scenic" route via East Coast trains. The route was very pastoral with roaming sheep and cows, plus a few beautiful cathedrals and oceanfront views sprinkled along the way. The 60GBP tickets came with wi-fi and unlimited food & drink - by the time we diddled on our computers, chowed down lunch (chicken & leek pot pies were surprisingly piping hot with a flaky crust), and had a few glasses of cider and wine, we were already pulling into the final station.
Post 1 - royal mile Edinburgh
J.Crew blazer (30% off w/ HELLOSTYLE), vintage Hermes scarf c/o LXR & Co (invite), Coach bag (review)

Edinburgh is a quaint city split into Old Town and New Town. The Old Town streets and buildings date back to the 1500's, with the "Royal Mile" street (pictured above) stretching through town to the Edinburgh Castle. The castle is small and admission is a relatively hefty 16GBP, but I enjoyed it very much as someone who is not a history buff. Post 1 - Edinburgh Castle
^ The Royal Palace, which houses the Scottish Honours (crown, scepter, and sword) used in the coronation of 16th century monarchs. There were rooms of wax figures (terrifying in dim lighting...you can bet I don't do well in haunted houses or wax museums) telling the story of the Honours, leading up to a room where the opulent treasures themselves were on display.

Post 1 - Edinburgh castle afar
The Edinburgh castle from afar, after a light drizzle.
Poast 1 - Sir walter scott monument
Wearing - Gap petite legging jeans (wearing 2011 version), Toms vegan classics shoes in sz 5
Post 1 - Scott monument
The Scott Monument for Sir Walter Scott - love the gothic architecture.

When traveling, I always try to sample regional specialties. Haggis (no need to click if you're uneasy about innards) is hailed by some as the Scottish national dish, and was offered at almost every place we ate in various forms. Another common menu item was black pudding, which a waitress was hesitant to explain until I reassured her that I wouldn't be grossed out.
Post 1 - Haggis and blood pudding
Clockwise from top left: Balls of haggis (not bad) with mashed potatoes, braised beef cheek with fresh pasta & scallions, black pudding atop crostini with quail eggs
Post 1 - Balmoral afternoon tea
After making our way to the New Town, we treated ourselves to overpriced afternoon tea at the Balmoral hotel. 25 GBP per person gets you: a little appetizer liquor, a tray of sandwiches and sweets, a course of warm scones w/ "clotted cream" & jelly, endless tea or coffee, and unlimited access to the cake trolley. I wish tea places would offer a savories-only option, as I usually wolf down the sammies but get nauseous from all the sweets. By the time the decadent cake trolley rolled around, Nick and I were ready to be rolled along home.
Post 1 - Balmoral afternoon tea tray

77 comments:

  1. Wow that looks like a lot of fun. I adore you in Toms since you're always dressed so professional on your blog.

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  2. Love your pictures. Looks like a good time.

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  3. Hi Jean, are the toms comfortable for travelling? I have been thinking about getting them for my upcoming trip. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jen - yes, super light and comfy (although I wish they had a little more arch support). They were feet savers for me walking 5-6 miles a day. I can't speak to durability because my friends' older pairs look very dilapidated, but I guess they are canvas shoes, after all.

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    2. Is there enough space inside to fit a pair of insoles? I've started putting the Dr. Scholl's purple-colored arch supports in all of my shoes, and seriously they make such a difference! I'd recommend trying that out if you're walking a lot.

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    3. Oo, thanks for the tip - will have to try those. I had planned on putting insoles in after/if the canvas stretches out, but ppl can probably buy half a size up to accommodate cushy insoles.

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    4. WOW on how well they lasted for the amount of walking you did! I wore comfy sandals the 1st day in HK and then quickly switched to my heavily padded running shoes for the rest of the trip. Even with those, my feet were aching. I need to investigate these!

      Such beautiful photos - especially the one of you in the window (and can't forget the food)!

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    5. I've always swear by my reliable crocs. Washable & dries in my time. =)

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    6. even better I have found than the purple arch supports are the clear dr. scholls that are litterly just an arch support (as opposed to the whole foot). This way they fit in everything -- and i mean everything. I put them in flats and pumps and b/c they are clear and just arch support, i can even wear them in sandals without being seen. they are about $7 bucks a pair, and well worth it.

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    7. Ahnu has a style called Jackie that resembles TOMS but has more arch support. If you're serious about arch support and stylish orthopedic footwear, I recommend browsing barkingdogshoes.com. I'm obsessed with arch support so I've spent many hours referring to that blog.

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    8. I also love taking my Toms for traveling and day trips with long urban walks! I add a couple coats of waterproof fabric spray (Kiwi in shoe section, or 3M Scotchguard) to help keep them dry during light rain or walking on wet ground after a heavy rain. I will say that I think the classics are much more cushiony and comfy than the pair of cordones style (super cute!) that I bought recently.

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  4. Gorgeous outfit and beautiful scenery!

    XOXO

    EK

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  5. all the food looks so delicious. love all the pics, especially the third one. thanks for sharing some of your experiences with us. ;)

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  6. Love the pic of you looking out of the castle - it's gorgeous!

    Thanks for sharing photos of your trip - we used to live in London and we flew to Edinburgh - but the train sounds like so much fun! I think we'll go that route when we take the kids.

    We also went on a haunted walking tour at night - it was spooky but I felt safe because hubby was with me! The only thing I DIDN'T enjoy in Edinburgh was the food - everything was expensive but greasy...but I loved seeing your food pics - you were adventurous LOL!

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  7. what brand of jeans do you have on? i'm a curvy, 5'-0" Asian who cannot find a pair of regular and/or skinny jeans that fits right.

    love your blog!! after i read your vintage post about longchamp pliage and planetes, i've decided to get one and love it! longchamps are not known in the DFW metroplex, and i'm not into branded things, and it fits perfect! i dwelled on the le pliage for two years! finally i feel complete :)

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    1. These are Gap petite legging jeans and I love them! And glad you're enjoying the longchamp...it's a daily work & travel staple for me, plus they supposedly repair damage for free.

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  8. Scotland looks absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I would love to go there someday. All the architecture and history of that place is just breathtaking. I love the picture of you in the royal palace! Thanks for sharing these pictures, you look like you had a lot of fun! :)

    Christy
    Sunnywithasideof...

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  9. Black pudding...ahhh! I tried some of that in Ireland before I knew what it was. I wasn't a fan, and was happy I hadn't eaten much of it after our cab driver laughed and told us what we just ate. Love the architecture!

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  10. This is a dream trip! You are so brave to try all of that food!

    creamystyle.com

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  11. you look great in the photos, I hope you had a great trip, looks like you had a great time in Scotland

    www.petitgraphie.blogspot.com

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  12. What a great trip and Edinburgh is so picturesque! Train seems like the way to go, nothing is better than a mild buzz as the scenery rolls by (you should try it to Connecticut from Boston sometime :) You look so put together in your adorable travel outfit. I definitely resort to Keens, camelbaks, and fleeces on vacations for comfort.

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  13. You look beautiful. Thank you for sharing your trip with us.

    -G

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  14. You look great, I love the pic of you from inside the castle window and inside the restaurant with the mirror background.

    Sounds like youre having a great time! Enjoy it!

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  15. your trip looks amazing, i love the tea pictures!! :)

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  16. Your outfit is so cute, and I'm so jealous of your trip - I would LOVE to go there.

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  17. Love the photos, seems like you had a great time. I have yet to visit Scotland, hopefully one day I will. I do have a question though, how did the TOMS hold up for you while you were traveling? I've been eyeing a pair of crochet TOMS to wear to commute to/from work, but I'm just not sure how comfortable and well constructed they are.

    - Christine

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    1. They held up just fine for me while traveling but that was only a little over a week...my friends have the crochet pair for commuting and they also look fine so far, but other pairs have gotten dirtied up and scuffed from rain/mud/prolonged wear. They are comfortable and lightweight but overall not a shoe that will last you a long time through heavy wear and still look good, in my opinion.

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  18. Beautiful pictures, it looks like a lovely trip! Glad you got good service on the train - East Coast are the bane of my life usually. I use their trains at least once a month and pay farrrr to much money for what it is...but I've ridden first class ONCE when I could afford to and the roomier carriage and notable absence of drunk passengers makes it so.much.nicer!(and the food, worth it for lunch alone...)

    You look really beautiful, particularly in that photo by that humongus mirror. Gorgeous, gorgeous gorgeous.

    Flora

    www.twowithseven.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. I didn't realize East Coast service is typically so bad! We booked late so this class was all that was left, glad we missed the inebriated passengers...

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  19. I bet you wore nothing but amazing outfits the whole trip. What did you pack? Did you remix items? With summer closing in, I'd be delighted to see a post about packing little but still looking amazing!

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  20. wow what a stunning place! love the tranquil tone in your photos and the overall aesthetic! <3

    It will be awesome if you can check out my new inspiration post!
    A
    xx
    http://epiquemoi.blogspot.com

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  21. Could you share your travel outfit with us? I am planning to travel in Europe as well. I don't want to look so dull or too casual but same time I want to be so uncomfortable in high heels. Your look gives me some tips how to wear for the trip but still I would love to see more of them. Please?

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    1. Sure, I wore an old, Old Navy maxi skirt, sweater, denim jacket and Gap flat shoes (plan on posting soon_. I felt pretty casual and touristy in it but was warm and comfortable so that's all that mattered at the time. The locals wore a lot of skinny denim and flat ankle-height boots, leather jackets and trench coats.

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  22. This looks like so much fun. Beautiful photos. Can't wait to see the rest of your trip!

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  23. Hi Jean: I am planning a trip to Europe in August and need recommendations for comfortable but stylish walking shoes. Can you please let me know what you wore for walking around Scotland? Thanks in advance!

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    1. I really hope she answers this question, because one of the things I love about Jean is how thorough and honest she is with her reviews and product recommendations. I, too, am planning a trip with lots of walking included, so I'm looking forward to her answer :)
      xoxoxo

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    2. i just discovered AGLs -- they are sold at nordstrom. they are somewhat pricey, but the most comfortable (non-tennis) shoe i have ever owned. the all leather ones are the best b/c the leather is so soft, but the patent ones are very comfy too.

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    3. Hi there - I wore these Toms canvas shoes when walking around, which many would not consider stylish. I bought them after several discouraging shopping trips trying on shoes for walking at the mall and these were the most comfortable pair I found that were available in a 5 (at Nordstrom). They do have cushioning and arch support and did not require any "breaking in," but I would personally prefer more arch support. Since it was forecasted to rain the entire week, I didn't consider nicer leather shoes, but if the weather is nice perhaps try leather slip on loafers with thicker cushioning and arch support.

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  24. Beautiful pictures! Looks like you had an amazing time and kudos to you for trying haggis!
    o-FashionEdible Blog

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  25. Have fun! Excited to see what else you'll be wearing.

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

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  26. You've just cemented my resolve to travel to Scotland at some point. These pictures are gorgeous! Being stuck at the office right now, I'm totally jealous! Also, loving your outfit--especially the scarf!

    Question for you: how did the Tom's hold up in terms of foot comfort? I'm travelling to Italy in the fall and I need a fashionable shoe that can withstand a fair amount of walking on cobblestone roads. Would the Tom's be a good choice?

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    1. Hi Joules, they were pretty comfortable but since the sole is thin, you'd probably be able to feel some roughness from cobblestone roads. If you like the style of Toms, some have suggested insertable insoles to add a layer of cushioning for more comfort and support.

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    2. Hm, that's what I was worried about. Thanks for the reply!

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  27. Looks like such a fun vacation! Enjoy! X0

    http://the-glitter-life.com/2013/05/28/weekend-wrap-up-instagram-diary/

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  28. Wow, the food looks amazing! I've only been to London so far, nowhere else in the UK, but Edinborough is definitely on my list.

    I'm amazed that you managed to walk around on shoes without arch support an entire day (week?); the last time I was in London I ended up wearing bad weather boots after a day in HiTop-Converse because my feet hurt so badly -- and I walk a lot in every day life! Also I imagine it must've been cold; we're having an unusually cold May in Europe this year, and the Tom's really look like summer shoes ...

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    1. Hi Billie,
      The Toms have more arch support than most of my flat shoes, but I realized that more would've been more comfortable for walking bumpy grounds around Edinburgh. It was surprisingly nice in the 60s and even a day of 70s on our trip. The day I flew home it was a frigid high 40s, so must be some of the unseasonable cold you're speaking of (we definitely got lucky during the visit)!

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  29. Your travel posts are always my favorite. Great photos! What kind of camera was used? I love all things UK-related and Trainspotting is one of my favorite movies of all time. So jealous. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your trip!

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    1. Thank you! I used a Canon 6D here. Have never heard of "trainspotting" before!

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  30. wow this looks like an amazing trip! your outfit is lovely and might I add your writing here is just impeccable I felt like I was right there with you and believe me I sure wish I could visit there sometime soon! the food looked scrumptious as well! thanks for sharing this trip diary. got a real sneakpeak of what its like there! xx. gigi. food and beauty blogger @ www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

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  31. Jean, for future reference you are entitled to more sandwiches when you have afternoon tea! You know for next time! xx

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    1. Oh really? The places are usually so stuffy, I'd feel shy to ask!

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  32. Great Photos! You could visit Galway next time ;-)

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  33. I love your travel posts! I was wondering what brand your white t-shirt is that you wore with your jcrew blazer? I can't find any I like!

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    1. Thanks! It's a very old basic from Old Navy kids.

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  34. I'm glad you enjoyed your trip - you took some beautiful pics. I love how open minded you are about trying new things....though you might have to share your experience about the 'clotted cream' -- sounds interesting!

    Glad your Toms held up! I'm sure you broke them in quite well during this trip.

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  35. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us! Edinburgh looks amazing and I'm so glad to be studying abroad there in the fall :)

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  36. That train ride would be awesome...food and alcohol...all you have to do is sit back and view the gorgeous scenery. Good choice opting to do that. :)

    Can't say I am as brave as you when it comes to trying some of those dishes!

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  37. I love your style! Im petite as you. I like, that you wear flat shoes, because its comfortable, not all the time high hells, just for blog :) Sorry for my english.

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  38. Such great photos! What kind of camera do you use? I started blogging recently and I am thinking about buying a new camera for this purpose. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    www.thestylebender.com

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    1. Hi Dez - I used a canon 6D here and also own a T2i which is easy to use.

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  39. As an Edinburgh resident, I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. It looks like you made the most of your time here. I, on the other hand, have lived here for almost 12 years and have still never visited the Castle. Perhaps I should take a leaf out of your book!

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    1. You live in such a beautiful city! They should offer castle discounts for local residents, and special touring times when it's not flooded with visitors like myself : )

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  40. Cute outfit, lovely pictures, and beautiful girl.

    Name brand inspired statement necklaces: https://www.etsy.com/shop/PearlsandBeyond

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  41. Thanks for sharing on Edinburgh. I was recently in England, few days after you based on your tweets. I only traveled within England and didn't explore Scotland though but this post will be bookmarked when I make plans to visit Scotland!

    fauxionista.com

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  42. Lovely pictures. I love Edinburgh, it's such a beautiful place. I went there for my honeymoon.
    Xxx

    www.dulce-or-amargo.blogspot.com

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  43. Thanks for sharing your trip with us! I hope we get to see more photos and I also hope you'll do a blog post on what you packed for the trip. I'm planning a trip out to London later this year and would love to see where you went! How was the weather?

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    1. Hi CC - yes I plan to and have lots more photos on London (absolutely loved it there!). The weather was forecasted to be 50's and rainy but we got lucky with 60's (even a day of 70) and no rain. I'd pack for both situations to be safe!

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  44. Edinburgh was my favorite stop last summer when I studied abroad. So glad you posted these pictures and that you enjoyed your stay!

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  45. I was compelled to comment because it seems like we went to Scotland and London around the same time! My boyfriend and I took a train trip from Edinburgh to London as well. It took awhile, but the scenary was worth the time. I ended up wearing ankle high booties, which I thought was perfect for the weather (and comfortable). Looks like you have a great trip, loved the photos!

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    1. How funny! Would love to hear any of your favorite destination/eats...checked out your blog but didn't see any posts!

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  46. Hello, Loving your blog post from my home town of Edinburgh - have you bought these gap jeans more recently than 2011? would you say the cut is still the same ? I can never find jeans that fit like this ... you look great !

    x natalie from www.livinginclips.com

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    1. What a beautiful hometown you have! I have not tried them recently as my old ones held up so well, so unfortunately I can't speak to whether any changes were made in cut.

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  47. My husband has family in London, Scotland and Ireland who keep saying we should visit and take advantage of the free accommodation. Your post is my ammo to convince hubby that we should take up the offers -- soon!

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