International Restaurant Review { The Elephant House }

There is a little child in all of us that likes to come out and play sometimes. That child gets excited and giddy at things that might seem mundane to others. The little girl in me still gets excited about anything even remotely related to Harry Potter. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a wizard or witch and be able to do magic?!

When my friend told me about The Elephant House in Edinburgh, I was so excited. The Elephant House is the coffee shop where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter books! It was quite thrilling sitting there, looking around and wondering what she was thinking while writing these books, not knowing how famous this character she created would become.

Allowing our inner child to enjoy these little moments are so important because it’s what will keep us grounded, and will make us enjoy life a little more.

There isn’t much to say about The Elephant House – a cozy little café with a great assortment of coffee & tea. True to its name, there are elephant decorations everywhere. If you visit but choose not to stay, please take a tour of the bathroom. Yes, the bathroom. The walls and ceilings are FILLED with the funniest comments by HP fans (I included a few pictures below).

What are some of the things that make you giddy like a child? Do you think it’s important to be able to ‘act like a child’ sometimes?

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Edinburgh Day 3 { Museum, Royal Mile, Hard Rock Café }

Another full and amazing day in Edinburgh! We spent a morning at ‘Our Dynamic Earth’, which offers an interactive tour for both children and adults to explore the evolution and current state of the earth. There was also a really interesting documentary about aliens (narrated by Rupert Grint!) that was projected in a 360° view where you are leaning back on your chair and can look above and in front of you.

After the museum, we walked on the Royal Mile, which is a long strip with boutiques and cafes where you are sure to find something unique to buy. I would really recommend taking an hour or two to at least walk down this street because it is really quaint.

We headed to the Hard Rock Café for dinner, which is a tradition that my boyfriend and I do whenever we visit a new city since he’s in the music industry. It’s fun to see his collection of Hard Rock magnets growing! We started with the jumbo combo, and for my main meal, I always order the same thing, the smokehouse chop salad: mixed greens, smoked chicken, spicy bacon, pecans, roasted red peppers, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo with smoky citrus vinaigrette dressing. It is so filling and absolutely delicious. I’ve had this salad in New York and Lisbon, and will probably have it in London next week too. Yes, it’s that good!

We are currently in Invergordon, which is North East of Scotland, and will be doing some more exploring the next two days, and then back to Edinburgh on Friday! ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

{ Edinburgh Castle – Day 2 }

The history found everywhere in Europe is enchanting. Wherever you walk, it is thrilling to think about the millions of people that have passed by the streets, and the thousands of years that have gone by.

We spent the morning going around Edinburgh castle, which dates back thousands of years (it was built in stages), and I find that it is always so magical to walk on cobblestone, look at old signs engraved in rock, while standing in the shadow of such a prominent building like a castle.

This castle is an important piece of history of Edinburgh so I would definitely recommend spending a few hours there, even just to walk around the grounds without necessarily getting a guided tour. It’s always important to take a step back into history and look at where civilization has come from to appreciate the life we are able to live today.

During the day, we also took a double-decker bus tour of the city, which took about an hour and highlighted the main historical and cultural attractions of the city. I would really recommend anyone travelling to find these ‘hop-on, hop-off’ (we’ve done them in Lisbon and New York) because it’s really worth the money. You can use these buses for 24-hours, and they run quite frequently during the day. It’s an easy and fast way to see the most relevant parts of the city, especially if you are limited in time.

For dinner, we headed to the Grassmarket district, which is the area where grass-eating animals use to be sold and traded. We had dinner at a little Italian spot, and had a delicious pizza topped with mozzarella, mushroom and ham.

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{ The castle was built on volcanic rock } Image

{ There are only two dog cemeteries like this in all of Scotland }

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{ Our gourmet burger for lunch (it was so bland, thank goodness for all that dijon…) } ImageImage

{ The start of Grassmarket }

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{ Beautiful Edinburgh! }

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{ It also happens to be the Fringe festival, where the population of Edinburgh triples in size. Music and theatre performances happen throughout downtown at different venues, and artists find creative ways to attract an audience (see next pictures) }

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{ Afternoon coffee – delicious! }

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{ Dinner at  Ristorante Gennaro – the starter }

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{ Gnocchi }

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{ Goodnight Edinburgh! Thank you for an amazing few days! We will be back! }

Restaurant Review { The Scotsman Edinburgh North bridge }

After an exhausting overnight flight and a quick layover in London, we safely arrived in Scotland and just spent a wonderful first evening in the amazing city of Edinburgh.

We first settled in our hotel, the Apex Waterloo, which is really beautiful, clean and welcoming. A shower and a short nap later, we headed off to explore the area and have dinner. We stumbled on The Scotsman Edinburgh North Bridge, where the menu offered traditional Scottish meals but more ‘gourmet’ than the typical pubs found at every corner (or like my boyfriend said, ‘there’s a corner at a every pub’). What I love about Europe is that you can see the history everywhere you go, and this restaurant was not an exception. The décor and the wood detailing was incredible.

As a starter, we had to taste haggis, which is a mix of different body parts of different animals (I’d rather not know the details so Google it!) Even though it did not seem appetizing, I was brave and had a bite: it was surprisingly not bad! Although it wouldn’t be the first thing I would order at a restaurant, I’m glad I tried it because it’s authentic to Scotland. The texture is very much like ground beef, but has a meatier taste, reminiscent of liver but the taste is not as strong.

As a main, I chose…fish & chips. I know, I know, a bit boring but 1) I was/am tired and did not want to over-think it, and 2) I was really happy with it because the fish did not taste too much like the ocean, while the fries were also delicious. The fish was perfect with the homemade tartar sauce, which has so much more flavor than what I’ve ever had before.

For dessert, I shared a dark chocolate mousse with marshmallow ice cream at the bottom, topped with thin short bread cookies. Although this satisfied my sweet tooth and chocoholic tendencies, I wouldn’t define it as quite a mousse but more of a pudding…very good nonetheless!

I’m already excited about exploring this beautiful country! Another full day tomorrow with many activities and sight-seeing planned so I will try and put up posts frequently!

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{ Haggis served with whiskey jelly & parsnip }

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{ Dark chocolate mousse with short bread crumbs and marshmallow ice cream at the bottom }

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{ Toffee cake with vanilla ice cream and caramel }

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{ Mini-matches!! }

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{ Mini-whiskey! }

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{ Loving my new leather converses, paired with dark wash Gap jeans and a black & white Zara knit }