“It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful places in the world, the history is fascinating, the men are handsome and the whisky is delicious.” – J.K. Rowling
After a month in the U.K., I came home two weeks ago, exhausted. My trip started in Edinburgh and ended in Cambridge, with stops in Aberdeen, St Andrews, and London in between. I caught up with dear friends and ate to my heart’s content. I attended important events like a bachelorette, a graduation, and two weddings, and by the end of it all, I was ready to come home to my routine. Even though I had to head to work the morning after I got back, waking up in my own bed with my smelly dog and making coffee in my own coffee pot was such a relief.
I spent my month-long adventure hopping from place to place on trains, planes, and cars. From the windows, I watched as sheep and cows grazed on the rolling meadows underneath a sky that was, occasionally, the most picturesque blue and dotted with puffy white clouds. Most of the time, however, the sky was grey, threatening to rain. When the sun shone we went for walks: from our temporary home in Edinburgh’s New Town to The Chocolate Tree by the Meadows; around Haddo House and Pitmedden Garden in Aberdeenshire; and around St Andrews, the seaside town we went to university in. One afternoon we ventured out to West Sands for a walk on the beach, and ten minutes in, we were met with pouring rain.
So, where did I eat and what did I do while I was in Edinburgh?
- Leo’s Beanery – My favourite café of all time, in case you didn’t realize from all the times I’ve Instagrammed my coffee from here (and here and here). Josie, the manager, is one of the warmest people you’ll ever meet.
- Nova Pizza – I’d walked by dozens of times on the way to Leo’s Beanery, but only got to try their pizza for the first time this visit. We got the vegan parmigiana pizza and pizza carbonara.
- Henderson’s – I like to visit Henderson’s for their vegan haggis and sticky toffee pudding. They’ve got a casual restaurant in their basement, a deli up top, and a vegan bistro around the corner on Thistle Street. Compared to all the incredible vegan brunches you can get in North America, breakfast/brunch here isn’t the best but it’ll take care of any greasy brunch cravings you have. They also have vegan scones in their deli. If I had to pick? Go downstairs for veggie haggis and then have the sticky toffee pudding for dessert. If you go around the holiday season, they’ll even have mulled wine!
- Urban Angel Café – Simple, healthy food across the street from Henderson’s. They’ve got a lovely breakfast menu (also on the menu: veggie haggis!) and a nice selection of juices/smoothies. I love their oats and have a soft spot for their chai lattes…
- The Chocolate Tree – I first discovered The Chocolate Tree years ago at a food fair when I was still studying at St Andrews. I bought a truffle from them and ended up buying a whole bag because they were so. damn. good. Their café in Edinburgh is cozy, has plenty of vegan options, and serves some of the best gelato and chocolate I’ve ever had. What to order: the hot chocolate, the affogato, the dairy-free dark chocolate sorbet, and if you still have space, a slice of their vegan chocolate cake. Oh, and truffles.
- Dig-In Brunstfield Community Greengrocer – I discovered Dig-In after a visit to The Chocolate Tree when I saw a beautifully stocked grocer next door. Their shelves were filled to the brim with seasonal produce (both local and non-local) and I went home with an armful of heirloom tomatoes and locally grown Strawberries.
- Leo and Ted – Leo and Ted is part of the Leo’s Beanery family and is located just down the street from The Chocolate Tree and near the Meadows, Edinburgh’s largest park. It’s a tiny little café with excellent coffee and homemade treats!
- Arthur’s Seat and Salisbury Crags – I haven’t climbed Arthur’s Seat, but I did climb Salisbury Crags this time around and the views of the city were incredible. If you’re looking for a good walk or a mildly easy hike, I’d highly recommend paying these two peaks a visit.
- Fortitude Coffee – We stumbled upon this coffee shop one morning when everyone was tired and un-caffeinated. Their flat whites did the trick, though.
- Peter’s Yard Café – Sourdough pizzas, open-faced sandwiches, pastries, and coffee.
- Stockbridge Market – This is the most vegan-friendly market I’ve ever visited! Almost every stall had a vegan option. I enjoyed a channa masala and roti for lunch, and devoured a raw vegan matcha and chocolate cheesecake with a cup of Steampunk Coffee for dessert.
Until next time,