I still can’t believe that it’s been two weeks since I moved to Scotland. Even saying the words feels a little like playing make-belief with friends. But then I walk outside into the chilly afternoon, and find myself on cobbled streets, surrounded by Georgian builds and there…the castle looming over the city and it all starts to feel real.
People often like to talk about Paris as the romantic capital of the world, but I think the more discerning vagabond will see that Edinburgh can match and raise Paris in terms of romance. And of course, with it being Valentine’s Day today, I have romance on my mind. Indeed, my romantic affair with this city that managed to drag me across 14,000kms in 4 months flat.
The second time I visited Edinburgh was in October, 2016. Needless to say I fell madly in love. It might have been the rose-coloured honeymoon phase of the romance, as I explored the city, a lone intrepid traveller discovering the secret dips and curves of her lover. Now, 4 months on and living in the city, the honeymoon romance has faded to reality and I can still say that I am in love with this city, for many reasons, and reasons that go beyond the surface level “lust” of first love that I experienced when I visited in the autumn.
As the City teeters between the freezing clutches of winter, and the warmer embrace of spring, I have been able to learn a little more about what makes Scotland such an incredible country to live in – despite the weather.
5. What does the weather matter when you can order everything online?
From alcohol, to your groceries, from household items like food processors to bedding, you can find everything you desire online and can either mark it as a click and collect, or delivery. And some deliveries can be made the same day. Whilst I had some awful experiences that I am still sorting out with Tesco, I’ve found Argos and it’s delivery system to be absolutely flawless. I’ve managed to stock my entire kitchen without ever having to leave my home and cart things back on the bus. Convenience in a pinch for those who are newly moved to a city – especially in the middle of winter.
4. Public Transport is the bomb
Who needs a car when the buses pass by every 10 to 15 minutes? And not only that, with apps like Lothian Buses and m-tickets you don’t need to worry about pesky change and tickets. Because you need to have the correct change on the buses, it can get a bit tricky if you normally only function with card (I rarely carry cash unless I’m going to a dinner with friends). The Lothian Buses app will tell you exactly how to get from point A to point B in the city, including exactly when you need to leave the house to make it to the bus port on time to jump onto your bus. This means lower wait times out in the cold, and a smoother transport door to door, even for those of you who don’t know the city. With m-tickets, you can purchase your tickets online, and the best bit is that all tickets, no matter where you are going within the city are £1.60. An all day ticket is £4. Cheap, efficient and clean. Oh, and the buses also have free wifi so no long, boring transits. Not that any transit is long here which brings me to…
…3. Everything in this City looks a lot closer than it appears on maps!
Most things are within a 15 to 20 minute, and that’s a big maximum. To get from my place in Lauriston in the Old Town to Princes Street in the New Town on the other side of the city is about a 10 minute brisk walk. You can saunter down, since it’s a beautiful stroll and that will take you to about 15 minutes before you hit the main shopping and dining district. Mind you, to get to Grassmarket from my place it’s a casual 5 minute brisk walk. And the scenery definitely keeps the walk interesting with old buildings and the castle from every angle available as you make your way around the city.
2. Art, art, art and all free
This might not mean much but when you’re a lover of the arts and history, finding that you live in a city where it’s all free is like walking into a candy store as a kid and being told you can have anything you want, no restrictions. I can spend days in the museums here, especially since most of the exhibitions are free as well. And not only that, a lot of movies are filmed here, so that makes life in Edinburgh even more exciting. Oh, and there are hundreds of theatres dotted all over the city, so there is bound to be something to peak your interest, and most of the shows are decently priced as well. Moving from a culture that was more focused on footy and beers, and outdoor sports, to one that values drama, theatre and the arts is a real coo. I find myself discussing intricacies of various movements or overhearing political discourse on the streets and smile. It’s not as wanky as it sounds, I promise. These folk still know how to get down and dirty in a rugby game. Speaking of which, the amount of ex-rugby players I have met is incredible – and all of them are highly intellectual as well since I’ve met them at various business meetings.
1. The produce is incredible
If you’re a foodie like me, Edinburgh is the place to be. We have a ridiculous amount of Michelin Star restaurants here in this tiny city that will have you drooling at sight of their menus. But you don’t have to wander far if you want a great bite to eat. You can make it in your own home with Edinburgh Artisan Food delivering a range of fresh produce from local producers, direct to your door. I can’t sing their praises enough, with fantastic customer service, impeccable produce and great prices. There really is no excuse not to eat healthy and local here. For someone like me who loves exploring with local tastes and flavours, I’ve managed to whip up some excellent meals with a basickitchen, which again speaks highly of the quality of the produce that is sold here.
Another thing that I negated to mention is the people. The Scots are by far some of the most helpful, friendliest and nicest people, making a massive transition like moving from a different culture and country something that has been easier to do that it might have otherwise been.