From Cowboy Boots to Bagpipes
On my travels, I have taken to telling people I am from Edinburgh. It's not necessarily true by heritage standards (my ancestral lineage is English and Welsh) or even place of birth standards (the Scottish west coast) but it is the city which shifted and shaped me into the person I am today.
There is an almost universally positive response to the sheer mention of the city. There is so often a sense of wonder that spreads across people's faces which opens a long, mystical avenue of conversation. And it is not really hard to understand why.
Layers upon layers of history are mapped within her infrastructure - you only need to take a stroll from the Royal Mile, down the marble Waverley Steps and you've transcended centuries of history. Take it slowly and forgo the pocket map – Edinburgh’s geography begs to be discovered on an amble that is not locked into a forward motion, but sidesteps into hidden closes and backtracks to climb up some curious steps or down into another world.
Edinburgh is often hastily categorized as a somewhat whimsical ancient city, a curious glimpse through a looking glass into another time. While it is certainly not untrue, to say this and this alone is to belie the fact that she remains a thriving thoroughfare. She continues forward, integrating her past with her present and her future.
Edinburgh’s bars, restaurants and galleries, in both sections of the city, rival those in her metropolitan counterparts, but with the added mystique of being set within hundreds of years of rich, enigmatic history. The once abandoned warehouses, dockyards, caves and caverns of Edinburgh now host contemporary enterprise, adapting to the current trends of modernity with notably gin distilleries, microbreweries and artisan coffee houses, also spaces of art and theatre.
The entire city sits under the watchful eye of Edinburgh castle, which sits proudly upon its volcanic throne. While parts of the castle still function as active military barracks, it is open to visitors and continues to be a must visit destination for international tourists and Scots alike.
With its swooping cobbled roads, the Grassmarket is one of the best areas of town for a great night out, offering underground music venues with local artists and DJs offering a taste of the talent that this city nurtures. It also hosts some of the better independent shopping in the city, on Victoria Street. Arguably one of Edinburgh’s most picturesque vistas this street is a row of boutiques and restaurants with colourful facades which, despite their prominent location, are not establishments with low quality, overpriced goods, that serve to lure unsuspecting tourists into their depths. Instead, these bright, welcoming spaces offer quality Scottish-made goods to flocks of locals and tourists alike.
Each street in Edinburgh leads off to another, offering more paths to take with each one imploring you to discover its gold. In this regard, navigating Edinburgh by foot can quickly become disorientating, like Alice traversing wonderland. Yet, it is never overwhelming. With each twist and turn, each ascent or descent through her layers, Edinburgh offers a sense of calm – of feeling like you have just reached the warm comfort of home.
by Rebecca Hughes (@beca_87)