Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ed-in-burgh? No, Ed-n-bra.

This post is about when not to go to Edinburgh, Scotland, and how to enjoy it if you happen to, anyway. Because I went when I shouldn't have gone and ended up enjoying it very much, despite the fact that the weather was even worse than what I'd left behind in my then-home, Austria. 

The first part is very simple: don't go in the winter. It's cold, it's gray, it rains, it snows. 

In short, it's not exactly the best kind of weather for getting to know the place. At least not, if you want to get it to know by walking around, seeing all the sights and spending your days exploring the city. That's because it's all wet and gray and you'll soon be soaked and tired, both of which suck. 

The result of sightseeing in Edinburgh in the rain. You can't even see what's in the pictures because of the bad light...

BUT the second part is also very simple: go out anyway! At least, that's what I did. I took my umbrella, put on tons of clothes and started walking. I was staying at a friend's house, thanks to CouchSurfing. He lives close to the centre but still a little way out, a walking distance if you're not a wuss. And for the wusses out there, the public transport system in Edinburgh's pretty good so you can take a bus anywhere if you don't want to walk. Or maybe it's not that you're a wuss, maybe it's just raining or snowing too heavily, then you're excused. 

So, equipped with an umbrella and a warm jacket you can go explore the sides of Edinburgh that maybe you wouldn't even have seen if it weren't for the bad weather - which, actually, is starting to look not-that-bad now, because of what it allows you to do. 

Here's your possibilities: 

1 - go café hopping! Not only the centre of town but also, and especially, the area around the river when you walk toward the city's core from the harbour is full of tiny little places, that offer hot beverages and often really good food and pastries. A cup of coffee here, a scone there, a cup of tea with milk and then a sandwich or soup... options are endless! I'm not sure anymore how much time I spent walking around that area, because time flew by, as it always does when traveling, but from all the different places I remember at least poking my nose into it must have been at least 5 hours. And every place is not only a positive surprise, but also offer the perfect shelter from cold, raindrops and clouds (most of the time). 

Turkish coffee, beautiful interiors and police boxes.

2 -  find the hidden face of Edinburgh! OK, so it's really not hidden. But usually, when the sun is out and it's warm and nice, most people will spend so much time by the castle on the hill and in parks and not exactly going for walks through the maze of tiny streets that snake through the centre, behind all the churches and museums and famous restaurants.

They make shirts saying "I'm kind of a big deal" in this store. Awesome, or what?

Stumble upon that dress you've always dreamed of - or your friend - or your mom - whoever, it's pretty. And those tiny stores... just awww.

Enclosed backyards with parked bycicles that you come into all of a sudden after walking through the narrowes alleyway of all...

3 - go the other way and visit the dead - what better background to a cemetery than silent, gray skies? This might sound unusual - or plain weird - to some, but it's interesting how much a cemetery can tell you about a place and the people that inhabit it, and their culture. I've been to tons of cemeteries, for that simple reason of wanting to find out more about a place, and Edinburgh's is one of the most surprising and intriguing ones I've seen so far. Very old graves among rather new ones... history is sitting among the weatherworn and sometimes even broken headstones and watches you walk around... 

4 - go to a freaking museum! The weather's crap, you have no excuses now. And from what I've seen, Edinburgh has a lot to offer on the museum front! 

This photo proves that I'm not talking for the sake of talking, I actually was inside the place!

Spooky dude, I like him.

5 - drink Irn Bru. Lots of it. 


Now, please do follow my first advice and don't go in winter. But if you have to, follow the rest of my advices and make the very best of your stay, I hope you'll enjoy it! 

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