I'm mixing up a recipe for the perfect weekend in Edinburgh, I hope you like it...
Day 1: Arrival by train at Waverley Station:
Ideally the weather is cold but sunny, wrapping up warm with lots of cosy layers with zero chance of rain... but that's never going to happen so I'll accept it.
Book yourself in at the Missoni Hotel just off the Royal Mile and a stone's throw from the castle. Book in on a lucky 50% discount before staff can realise their error and whip it out of reach. Be Smug.
Spend a few minutes jumping on the bed, eating the hotel biscuits and packing the hotel toiletries safely away in your case so housekeeping replenish them. Check TV has MTV.
Head out on to the Royal Mile and step in to the Scottish sun. Underestimate Scottish wind and run back to hotel for emergency layers. Wander up the Royal Mile to the castle but don't bother going in due to extortionate entry fee and lack of desire for castle tour.
Go down the steep steps to Grassmarket and meander through the crowds taking in the sights and don't forget to look up at the beautiful buildings. Head along to Cowgate and gaze up at the bridges above you (watch out for the pigeons). Stop at the Three Sisters where you spent your Hen Do last year...
Now you're in for a steep climb (if you're not going downhill in Ed. you're going up) and stop halfway up Blair Street at The City Cafe for a retro milkshake or a bloody lovely hot chocolate that won't break the bank. Take note of this place as you're coming back for breakfast tomorrow.
Head back along the Royal Mile and explore the city and its winding alleys and tall, thin, mystifying buildings. Soak up the history and imagine what this place was like in all its stinking glory a few hundred years ago.
Eat dinner at Hanam's Turkish Restaurant (traditional Scottish grub not so much) because it's a BYO restaurant and you're on a budget. Head to Finnegan's Wake Irish Bar (traditional not so much again, but they did have bagpipes on the wall and they served Tennant's) for some serious fiddely dee jiggly jigs until closing time. Stumble in to Missoni Hotel and prove your occupancy because you don't look the type to drink there. Have one for the frog and toad. Go to bed. Jump on the bed, dance to MTV, eat minibar snacks.
Day 2: Banging headache and trying to fit Mission dressing gown in wheeley case.
Shit. I ate all the minibar snacks.
Look out window and see sunshine over Arthur's Seat. You're liking my view, no?
It's time to head to the City Cafe for a tip top breakfast, complete with haggis. Read the Sunday papers and generally do all you can to delay the Arthur's Seat climb and to get rid of those pesky stomping elephants in your brain. Somebody rinsed my brain with white wine last night! Must be the altitude.
Plod down the Royal Mile once more with less zest than yesterday. Walk past the Scottsh Parliament buildings with a confused look on your face - what's with all the wooden sticks? - and stop at the ice cream van at the bottom of the hill.
*I love how you can be right in the middle of Edinburgh one moment and then high up above the city after half an hour of serious climbing*
With Arthur's Seat ticked off your list, get yourself to a pub pronto. Might I suggest Deacon Brodie's Tavern right opposite the Missoni Hotel? Drink a half of Tennant's. Then another.
Cross the bridge in to the New Town and take a seat in the sun at Centotre and get yourself another hot chocolate, this one you need a spoon to eat it with :) oh yes!
After your hot beverage, explore the New Town and do some serious window shopping. Maybe buy a postcard if you need to buy something.
So you see, I got to know the city without having to spend crazy amounts of money on the tourist attractions. Camera Obscura? Take a hike. Edinburgh Castle? Admired from afar. Edinburgh Dungeons? The only thing that scares me about you is your prices...
I can't wait to head back again, I love you, Edinburgh.