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  • L.M.Thornburg

Dream Trip

Edinburgh, Scotland makes a few appearances in the Alice Stewart series. It is a place that I have longed to visit for years, but (so far!) it hasn't worked out for me. So, I thought in the meantime it would be fun to plan a hypothetical trip.

Edinburgh has always been an important city to the literary community. It has inspired over 500 novels, from Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein. It was also designated as the world's first UNESCO City of Literature. The city also hosts a giant book festival every year. So, if you're a writer and/or love books, Edinburgh could certainly be a fun trip with plenty to see.

Ideally, I would stay somewhere along or near The Royal Mile, which is the oldest part of Edinburgh. Staying in this area would make walking (which is my favorite way to experience a city) to sights, restaurants, etc. very easy. There are a ton of choices in Edinburgh including youth hostels, but since this is a dream vacation, I'm going to aim a little higher.

Staying at The Balmoral would be amazing! It is a gorgeous, classically styled hotel. I mean. Just look at that suite. So beautiful. The Balmoral has an amazing indoor pool, workout area, and a spa. There are three restaurants and three bars each with a different theme. The worst thing about staying here, is that I would have a hard time leaving to do any sight-seeing.

Find more information at The Balmoral

My second choice of hotel is the ibis Styles Edinburgh St. Andrew Square. This is a small boutique hotel with a ton of character.

The continental breakfast alone is so adorable, I can hardly stand it. And it looks delicious!

The hotel also has a restaurant, Bonnie & Whistle. It looks like a fun place to stop in for a laidback bite. Even if I wasn't staying at the ibis I would be tempted to stop into this cute restaurant.

Next up: food/drink! Any time I go on a trip, whether it's just for the day or for a week, I spend the majority of my planning time on where to eat. I will look at every menu within a thirty-mile radius of where we're staying. I will write lists and take notes. And as my husband will tell you, because this drives him crazy, I will still be unable to decide where we should eat. 😂

So, what I'm saying is, I'll try to limit this list of restaurants to just a handful. Starting with Makars Gourmet Mash Bar. I find this place incredibly intriguing. They use healthy, local ingredients to make Scottish comfort food with a modern twist. Think vegetarian haggis with a side of spicy mashed potatoes. Yum! HOME - Makars (

If I was after something a little less casual, I might visit The Scottish Cafe and Restaurant. They serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and have an all-day Scottish brunch. Their list of desserts is long and everything on it sounds delicious. I would definitely treat myself to a Gooseberry Mess. The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant - Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh (

For a very special dinner, I would go to The Dome. This beautiful domed building used to be a bank. It's all columns and floor-to-ceiling windows. Mirrors and huge flower arrangements give it that little extra something. It's definitely a special occasion restaurant.

I'll end my restaurant daydreams with Chaophraya, a Thai place with an incredible view. Thai is my most favorite food and this place looks amazing. The menu contains classic Thai dishes along with some new twists. And that view! I would love to watch the sunset on the terrace while sipping a cherry blossom sour.

On to my other favorite: coffee shops. I love espresso drinks and tea, so going for a hot beverage makes me happy. And if the shop is cute, I'm even happier.

- The Deacon's House Cafe: They serve the usual line-up of coffee drinks and tea. They also serve breakfast, lunch, and desserts. Deacon's House Cafe (

- Black Sheep Coffee: This is a popular chain in Great Britain that serves up lots of espresso drinks along with some breakfast items. North Bridge – Black Sheep Coffee

- The Milkman: Very cozy coffee shop selling coffee drinks and baked goods.

Now that my food and drinks have been handled, I can concentrate on sightseeing. I'm certain I could spend days wandering around Edinburgh, getting lost down alleyways, popping into shops, and reading the plaques explaining what each building used to house, I will pick out a few must do's.

Obviously seeing Edinburgh Castle is a must. There is so much history in this fortress: including The Royal Palace, the oldest crown jewels in Great Britain are housed here, and the Scottish National War Memorial, among many other highlights. Official Edinburgh Castle Website

Calton Hill is a must for me, as there an important scene in my latest Alice Stewart book that takes place here. I really wished I had been able to visit before writing that scene, but it wasn't possible, so I had to use my imagination.

I would certainly have to visit the Palace of Holyrood House. This palace is the Queen's official residence when she is visiting Edinburgh.

This is just the tip of a very large iceburg. There are so many historical, cultural, just plain interesting things to do in Edinburgh. I hope to be able to visit in the next couple of years. I could call it a "research" trip. If you've ever been, let me know what you're favorite thing to see was, or even better, what the most delicious thing you ate was.

Till next time,


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