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Edinburgh in General
Edinburgh in General
Date: 28/09/00, updated on 18/11/02 (17 review reads)
Advantages: Great city
Disadvantages: Not as good as Glasgow (just kidding folks)
It is very difficult in a relatively short opinion to tell you all you need to know about Edinburgh, but I hope I can give you a flavour of what's on offer. There are many good guidebooks available which can do more justice to the individual facilities than I ever could. I will try to tell you about certain aspects though - like the pubs and emmmm - the pubs.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland though not the largest since Glasgow is much bigger in both population and landmass. The name of the city comes from "Din Eidyn" meaning 'Eidyn's Fort' which stood on Castle Hill around the sixth century. The present castle dominates the skyline of Edinburgh and makes for a great day out. The views across the city from the castle are spectacular, and the history surrounding the castle is well worth delving into (but too much for this opinion).
But although the castle is a central focal point it is by no means all that Edinburgh has to offer. For me, much of the charm of Edinburgh lies in the fact that as the city has expanded most of the old town has remained untouched. This gives the city a sort of tree trunk effect with the oldest parts in the very centre and getting more modern the further out you go.
The main shopping area of Princes Street is somewhat unique in that the shops are built along only one side of the street. You can find all the big high street stores along Princes Street, they even have Scotland's answer to Harrods which is called 'Jenners'. On the
opposite side of the road lies Princes Street Gardens, which is as fine a city park as you will find anywhere. On a hot day the Gardens are jam packed with all sorts of people and an enjoyable day can be spent just watching the comings and goings.
But Edinburgh really comes to life at night .... which gives me a chance to talk about those pubs :) There are two main areas for pubs, the biggest and most well known being the Rose Street area. Rose Street runs parallel with Princes Street, so it is within easy reach of most hotels etc. The amount of pubs along this stretch is phenomenal, with absolutely all tastes being catered for. My favourite area though is the Grassmarket. The Grassmarket is situated at the opposite side of the castle from Princes Street and is definitely the place to be if you like live music. The music in the pubs ranges between traditional Scottish and Irish, rock and pop and Jazz. The pubs are mainly lined up along a short stretch of road and it is really something to walk (well, stagger!!) from pub to pub and take in a bit of the atmosphere in each.
During August and September you can take in the world famous Edinburgh Festival. The festival focuses on performance arts and provides a staggering range of shows from big name sell-outs to one-man shows that no-one even watches. If you are interested in music, poetry, plays, stage shows, stand-up comedy etc. then the Edinburgh Festival is the place to be. The street party that sees in the new year (Hogmanay as we call it) is a fantastic experience and well worth going to.
A great way to find out about some of the history of the old town is to take the 'Witchery Tour'. The tour is an entertaining look at the grim past of Edinburgh and includes many stories of witches, murderers and diseases. The beauty of the tour is that it will give you a chance to wander around some of the dark back alleys in the safety of a group. You can find the tour office beside the Witche
ry Restaurant just down the hill from the Castle gates.
Much is said about the friendliness of the people in cities like Glasgow and Dublin, but the people of Edinburgh are often overlooked. Well that is a shame because I have always found them to be every bit as friendly as those in the other cities that I mentioned. I think perhaps the problem may be that it is sometimes difficult to actually find any natives. Edinburgh is bursting at the seams with tourists, but I can't say too much about that because I am a tourist when I go too.
There is much more to Edinburgh than I have mentioned here, but I won't bore you any more. As a Glaswegian I can't really advise anyone to choose Edinburgh before Glasgow - but it is a great second choice!!. If you are looking for a short break or a weekend away I think you could do much worse than visit 'Embra'.