Edinburgh Rocks but It No Longer Reeks

There is something thrilling about exploring your own country and discovering that it is actually pretty blooming exciting.

I grew up in Scotland but had never even been to Edinburgh until my work offered me a move to there. It seems bizarre now but I knew very little about the city and it almost felt like moving to a foreign country.

First Impressions

My first impression of Edinburgh was that I had walked into the best smelling city in the world. I had already known that it was called Auld Reekie, which means Old Smelly to a Scot. However, I had never bothered stopping to think why it got that name. In fact, I had assumed that it was related to some sort of hideous odour. It turns out that it was due to the smell which the local breweries produced in the air. Different people described it differently but to me it smelt like a wonderful mountain of freshly toasted broad waiting to have butter slathered on it. Sadly, this reek no longer exists, as the majority of the breweries are now long gone. However, the rest of your initial impressions will probably be the same as mine. It is an elegant looking place which always strikes me as being lively without ever being too crowded. The gardens on Princes Street which are below the castle are where I spent my first few minutes, before walking up to the castle for a panoramic view. I can definitely recommend the same approach to anyone who arrives for the first time.

The Highlights

reekieI’ve seen quite a few cities since my time in Edinburgh but I would still name the Scottish capital as the best place I know for walking around. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there is something magical about going for a stroll here. In the years I worked in Edinburgh the idea of going for a walk never lost its thrill for me. Prince Street, the Royal Mile, the New Town and Calton Hill are all places where an aimless wander can feel really special. Of course, you will bump into tourists and tourist attractions but to me it always feels like a genuine sort of place rather than a fake tourist trap. Even the bagpipe players seem to be proper musicians rather than dodgy tourist attractions. Apart from going for a walk, you could check out some classy art galleries or pop into some of the quaint little book shops and antiques shops which I love. The castle is the only part of the city I found a bit disappointing, as it just seems like a big house more than anything else. However, its spectacular location means that it is still a special place to look out from.

The Festival

I love it when a city changes completely for a week or two due to some sort of event. This is what happens in Edinburgh in August, only for longer than a week. This time of year is when the famous Edinburgh Festival comes to town. The whole place gets taken over by shows and street performers at this time of year, with loads of tourists arriving as well. The city takes on a completely different aspect and even a gentle stroll around the place at any time of day can end up with you running into a party or some sort of music or comedy event. I haven’t been back to Edinburgh in a few years and just thinking about this again has got me all excited about the idea of heading there next summer to see it again.

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