Why I Love Edinburgh

Today Talli Roland posted Why I Love London, then Ellen Brickley followed it up with her list of Things I Love About Dublin so now I’m going tell you why I love Edinburgh:

  • The Book Festivals – How can I express how absolutely amazing the Edinburgh International Book Festival is? I was bubbling with excitement the whole seventeen days of this year’s festival. Sometimes I felt my head would explode. Then there is the more intimate but equally exciting West Port Book Festival which brings together authors, readers and cup cakes in characterful book shop settings. Of course there are plenty more book festivals in and around Edinburgh but those two are my favourites.
  • The literary and spoken word events –  wine and gossip at the monthly Literary Salons, wine and talks at Edinburgh City Reads, wine and poetry at The Golden Hour. I go to these things for the literature, honest.
  • The Art Galleries – In September I went to see Down Over Up, a Martin Creed exhibition at the Fruitmarket Gallery. The exhibition focused on things that went up or down in increments, for example, there was a row of cacti arranged in order of height, stacks of chairs with the largest on the bottom and the smallest on the top and sheets of A4 paper completely coloured in with felt tip pen wrapped around the wall in order of the darkest to the lightest shade. By far the funniest piece was the staircase, which had been tampered with so that the steps emitted a tone when you stood on them. With each ascending step the tone grew higher and higher so it was like you had your own personal cartoon soundtrack as you climbed the stairs to the next level. PLINK! PLINK! Plink! plink! Then last month I visited the Modern Art Gallery which is currently rotating its collection so that pieces that have been in storage for a long time are finally on display again. Robert Therrien’s giant table and chairs were hilarious. I was desperate to vault myself up onto the chair so that I could dangle my legs over the edge, but even if I had been able to get onto a chair, the seat of which towered above my head, I realised that I still would not have been able to see over the top of the table. I felt like a Borrower. I like modern art, I particularly like modern art that makes me laugh, and Edinburgh has plenty of both.
  • The tea rooms – I overheard someone say the other day that there aren’t that many tea rooms in Edinburgh. Absolute nonsense. Check this out. And there are still loads more to be explored.
  • The sky – look at my masthead. That’s an Edinburgh sky. Beee-ooo-ti-foool.
  • The City of Literature Trust – All hail the wonderful Anna and Ali at the City of Literature Trust who are responsible for the above mentioned Literary Salon, Story Shop (my first paid writing gig, yay!) and the annual One Book – One Edinburgh campaign (among many other wonderful literary things). I cherish my beautiful Carry a Poem book which I got free as part of this year’s One Book – One Edinburgh.
  • The Royal Mile – This is where you will find the oldest buildings in Edinburgh, huddled together like crooked teeth. The Royal Mile extends from the castle down to Holyrood Palace and is riddled with closes and alleyways. February on the Royal Mile is bloody baltic, but also clear and sharp glittery. It was on one of those February evenings that I realised that I really had to move to Edinburgh.
  • The castle – Edinburgh castle is like a village, a jumbled collection of buildings which you can easily spend all day exploring. From the grassmarket and Princes street it looks magnificent and imposing, particularly at night when it glows fiery orange.
  • The libraries – There’s a copyright library, the university libraries, public lending libraries and the Scottish Poetry Library. A wealth of books, journals and magazines to leaf through.
  • Leith – The first time I went to Leith was for a job interview. I was very surprised when the bus turned off a main road onto a cobbled street on the edge of the river. It used to be a separate burgh but now it’s been swallowed up by Edinburgh. A curious mix of very old and very new buildings makes Leith a charming and glamorous setting for a night out. It’s also at one end of the  Water of Leith walk, a riverside stretch that takes you right across Edinburgh passing six Anthony Gormley statues on the way. I did that walk a few weeks ago but I only managed to spot two statues. I think I will wait for spring before I try to find the other four.

16 thoughts on “Why I Love Edinburgh

  1. all reasons why I love Edinburgh too! I’d add in the various areas of town that still have their own character (eg Stockbridge, Davidson Mains etc) the easy access to nature (not just Water of Leith but the shore at Cramond and Silverknowes, Cammo, Corstorphine HIll etc) and the secodn hand shops….

    There’s a map at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre that shows where all the Gormley Statues are, if you want to find out, though it’s perhaps more fun to find them for yourself!

    Crafty green poet

  2. Helen, thanks for the link 🙂

    Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities. I absolutely love it – the history, the books, the architecture, the skyline, the people, the tea, the shops. . . It’s just fantastic.

    Wonder if anyone will step and do Belfast and Cardiff so we can do all five capitals on the islands?

  3. Hi Juliet, thanks for stopping by and for adding some more reasons to love Edinburgh. Next time I do the Water of Leith walk I’ll consult the map. I’m desperate to see the remaining four statues.

    Hi Ellen, Great idea. I don’t know any bloggers in Cardiff and Belfast otherwise I would be nagging them to make their lists too. There are four Cities of Literature: Dublin, Edinburgh, Melbourne and Iowa City. I do know a couple of bloggers in Melbourne so maybe they could join in the city-loving fun.

    Yes Talli, you really have to come up to Edinburgh for a visit. It’s only four and a half hours from London by train. Maybe one day you’ll be here on a book tour 🙂

  4. My god, what an inspiring, delightful post – I smiled from beginning to end. We who live in Edinburgh should never forget how lucky we are, how beautiful our home is, how rich its culture. It’s a perfect little gem, and thanks for saying so with such enthusiasm and love!

  5. *Blush* Thank you , Colin. Yes, we are very lucky to live here.

    Hi Stuart, oh the museums! Well this means you’ve missed the wonderful Lewis Chessmen exhibition but there’s still plenty to see. Now that the weather’s getting colder it’s the perfect time to enjoy indoor pursuits such as strolling around museum exhibitions.

  6. Hi, Helen! I’ve followed you over from Talli’s blog, and like you and Ellen, I’ve been inspired to do the same with my own part of the world.

    Edinburgh sounds incredible! The castle intrigues me particularly, and that Royal Mile sounds like something I’d enjoy.

  7. Yes, it is a remarkable city. I’m really glad you commented Laura, because I think this makes this my most commented on post ever! (Of course, four of the comments are mine…)

  8. I’ve been to Edinburgh many times and I never fail to be amazed at how stunning it is visually and culturally. I remember the first time I stepped out of Waverley station and walked up the steps to Princess Street and looked across at the views of the city and I realised this was a special city. The view of the castle the first time you see it is jaw-dropping, it really is.

    There is a true cosmopolitan feel to Edinburgh that you normally only get with the ‘big’ world cities so it’s nice to get that in a city where it is actually a pleasure to walk about in. There is a certain buzz about the place that I haven’t experienced anywhere else especially in August and December, it’s a great mix of tradition with contemporary and has a very trendy feel to it even though it’s steeped in history, there’s so much to do and see whenever you go or whatever the weather. In fact it’s one of the only places I like when it’s cold or raining it looks just as good.

    My only complaint is don’t bring the car, we parked last week at the castle car park for a little over 24hrs and it cost £32 Ouch!

    • Hi Adrian, one of the things I love about Edinburgh is that it’s so walkable. The city centre is so compact that you can explore it easily on foot. The buzz in August is incredible. I love meandering down the Royal Mile, enjoying the street performances on the way. £32 to park your car? Ouch indeed!

  9. I to love Edinburgh, I can’t stop myself going there all throughout the year, I myself live in the North but thinking of other places to visit is a no no for me. Edinburgh is full of History and there’s always something to do or see, i can’t seems to be at a loose end when i’m there. Love your site by the way

    • Thanks. It’s really great to see a new name amongst the commenters. I’m so glad you like my blog. I’ll try to keep up the good work. Edinburgh’s history is fascinating isn’t it? Last summer I went on a walking tour where we learned about some of the more gruesome historical incidents, such as the persecution of witches and the fact that the wall on Candlemaker Row contains ashes of the victims!

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