The Challenge – to let Cousin Andrew over from the States have an interesting, cram-as-much-as possible day in Edinburgh before he set off for London. The Solution – buy an Edinburgh Pass, and let him loose around the city to visit as many attractions as possible. I picked him up from the airport early in the morning and by flashing our passes we enjoyed a free ride into town on the Airlink bus.
We started off with an overview of the city from the Camera Obscura and saw spread out before us on an upturned disc what we would be visiting later in the day. Fascinating – there were the good citizens going about their business, unknowingly observed by the original Spy in the Sky. Then down the hill we went to Gladstoneâ€™s Land, where Andrew was amazed by this perfectly preserved example of 17th century tenement life, with its stunning painted ceilings and original furniture. Having taken on board the implications of â€œGardy Looâ€, we thought a pit stop seemed called for so coffee at the CafÃ© Hub now beckoned – buy one get one free with the Edinburgh Pass.
Time now to use the free Lothian Bus day ticket that came with the pass. Andrew is a doctor, and particularly wanted to visit the Surgeonâ€™s Hall Museum to see the anatomical specimens and surgical instruments on display. Gruesome! What doctors and small children find fascinating, others regard with a certain horror. Happy to have seen a pocket book made out of Burkeâ€™s skin, we took another bus down to Howies at Waterloo Place for lunch – 20% off with the pass.
In the afternoon we learnt the Secrets of the Royal Mile on a Mercat Tour, and found out a lot about the Old Town history. Keen to know even more, we went on to visit John Knox House and the Scottish Storytelling Centre with eventually another reviving pit stop at the Spirit CafÃ© Bistro – 10% off this time
By now the sun was over the yardarm, so to speak, and it was time for the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour. Great fun – a pub crawl with attitude. We went to the oldest, the dingiest, the most hidden, the most fascinating pubs imaginable. Pubs associated with Scott, and Stevenson, and William McGonagall, among other glitterati of the literati. We were regaled with lively tales by actors in character, the colourful characters of 300 years of Scottish literature.
We enjoyed a drink in each pub and then sat down to work out how much we had saved on the Pass. It seemed impossible – alcohol must have taken its toll on our ability to count… But it was true. We had each saved a whopping Â£35 on the dayâ€™s outings. There was nothing else for it – we had to save a further Â£10 each by going on an Auld Reekie Terror Tour at 11pm. History at its darkest, high paranormal activity – it was the ideal way to round off an action packed day.
Andrew left next day totally impressed by his grand day out. So was I. I started thinking how useful this pass would be over the summer for residents as well as visitors. There is free entry to the National Galleries, The Queenâ€™s Gallery, Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh Zoo and certain National Trust properties. There are out of town visits to (amongst others) the Scottish Seabird centre, the Mining Museum, the National Museum of Flight Concorde experience, Glenkinchie distillery, and Hopetoun House. You can take to the sea on the Maid of the Forth and Seafari Adventures.
With the school holidays approaching, this card could be a godsend for families, cutting costs while providing great ideas for outings. Learn a lot, see a lot â€“ all with the Edinburgh Pass.
The Adult 1Day Pass costs Â£24, 2Day Pass costs Â£36, 3Day Pass costs Â£48. The Child Pass for 5-15 years costs Â£16 for 1Day, Â£24 for 2 Days and Â£32 for 3 Days. This must be bought in conjunction with an Adult Pass.
The Edinburgh Pass can be bought from the VisitScotland Tourist Information Centres at: Edinburgh Airport, 3 Princes Street, North Berwick, Dunbar, and Newtongrange.
The Pass is also available through the website at http://www.edinburghpass.com/ , which has details of the many offers and attractions available.