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Enjoy the coolness of an Edinburgh Break

One of the toughest things to get used to when relocating to Dubai is the heat, a heat many people have never experienced, a heat that smothers you as soon as you go outside. So by the time June is upon us expats are dreaming of green landscapes, a cool refreshing breeze on their cheeks with maybe a touch of drizzle. If you are looking for holiday ideas why not take a couple of days to hit the high road and visit Edinburgh. There is no better time to do this than August when the Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are in full swing.

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and only a short one hour commute from Glasgow International Airport which Emirates Airlines serves daily from Dubai. First tip of the day – don’t hire a car as the city is easy to walk around and the local buses are great!

There are many standards of accommodation from your friendly local guest house or budget hotel such as the Premier Inn through to top end hotels namely the Balmoral Hotel, Hotel Missoni and The Scotsman.

Walking through the city is a delight. Start the morning with breakfast at one of the many upmarket cafes but before you do that grab a Fringe & Festival program and decide if there are any shows you would like to take in that day. Take a morning stroll along the elegant George Street where there are some lovely shops hidden in elegant Georgian buildings then wander down to Princes Street and cross the road to explore Princes Street Gardens. Tilt your head to the sky and you cannot fail to miss Edinburgh Castle perched on top of an extinct volcano which is really a sight to behold in the middle of a city.

Just off the gardens is the National & Portrait Galleries which usually have exhibitions on during the festival. Outside the galleries there are always street entertainers which have the crowds captured as they swallow fire or lie on beds of nails. You may have only planned to pass this entertainment area but will probably be so captivated next time you look at your watch a few hours will have passed.

When you do finally pull yourself away head up the steps to the top of the mound which meets the Edinburgh Royal Mile. Edinburgh is steeped in history and no place is this more evident than on the Royal Mile. Buried deep beneath lies a warren of streets that were closed for hundreds of years. The Real Mary Kings Close Tour lets you explore this site and experience what it was really like for the people who lived there. Once you come back into the daylight and the year 2011 you will be met by hundreds of people milling about the High Street watching small excerpts from shows that are currently showing at the Fringe Festival.

If you’ve built up an appetite head along George IV Bridge and grab a snack in the Elephant House Cafe where JK Rowling penned her first Harry Potter novel or step into Vittoria‘s and enjoy a bowl of pasta to set you up for the rest of the afternoon.

Heading back along the bridge towards the historic pub of Deacon Brodies turn left up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. The castle is full of ancient buildings and history giving a great insight into the story of Scotland. To top this, the views over the city towards the Firth of Forth are spectacular.

As evening approaches the city will still be buzzing with locals and tourists heading out for an early dinner before taking in a show. You areĀ  spoiled with choice for dinner options as Edinburgh has an array of great eateries such as Fishers in the City for fish, Olorosso for great views, The Witchery for a touch of history, Henderson‘s for vegetarian or Monster Mash for real comfort food!

After a late night start your day with breakfast at The Royal Botanic Gardens then amble through it’s enchanting gardens. With over 70 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds this is a tranquil haven and is just one mile from the town center. From the Botanics it is easy to walk back into town through the Edinburgh New Town ending up at the beautiful leafy Charlotte Square Gardens where the Edinburgh Book Festival takes place. This festival brings writers and thinkers from across the world to give talks, workshops and host debates. You can join in with all these events or just lie on the grass with a book and soak up the atmosphere.

That evening finish of your visit to Edinburgh with a visit to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. This is set against the back-drop of the castle on the castle’s esplanade. This is a truly international show with military bands, dancers and display troops from around the world with a good splattering of bag pipes to remind you of where you are!

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