Ever since I invited my Mom to come to London (read about it here) with me in 2014, to celebrate her success in learning English and also to motivate her to keep the good work up, we have made it a tradition to go on an annual trip together.
London holds a very special place in my heart and always will. It is this metropolitan vibe that comes with a friendliness you rarely experience in Germany. (Many people will disagree with me, that it is rather inhuman, hectic, noisy, etc., I think it's lovely.) And my Mom agreed with me, we had a wonderful time, sipping wine out of paper cups, sitting on a bench overlooking the Thames. In 2015 we went to Paris, (read about it here) in August, which proved to be a bad time to travel there. The tourist attractions like the catacombs were very busy, while the true "Parisian flair" I had experienced earlier with Mr Schön was missing somehow. Probably because most natives had fled the city for the summer. Still, Paris is like a muse to me. I always feel very inspired whenever I am there. Anyhow, we experienced Paris between the attacks on the people at Charlie Hebdo and the shootings in November. You could already feel that the police and military were extra alert, but I can imagine that the city has again changed severely after the attacks on their way of life in November 2015.
I don't really know who had the idea, I think it was my mother, that our 2016 tour should bring us to Edinburgh. We had both heard a lot about the city already and always wanted to go.When I admit that I LOVE the Scottish accent, my English friends tend to make fun of me, but it's true. It sounds so melodic to me. The rolling "r", the singsong, it just fits all the clichés of Scotland I have in my mind.
We booked Airbnb apartment again, a beautiful place with great equipment and style, in walking distance from the city center and great bars and restaurants. The host, Chris, was on holiday himself, but a friend of his showed us everything and was very kind. We had a lot of questions in advance and I used Chris as a "native" to give us tips on where to go, what to eat, etc.
As I said before, we both prefer discovering a city walking to public transport, so my mom and me walked until our feet hurt. Edinburgh consists of an Old and a New Town, divided by the Princes Street Gardens. We were pretty lucky with the weather, although it was much colder than in Germany, which made us both buy the same jumper for warmth. If you are in a city you don't know anybody you can also wear partner look with your Mum, because where else will you do that? With our new jumpers we were fully equipped to leave the shopping malls of New Town behind us and climb the steep hill to Old Town. You cannot spend time in Edinburgh and not hear a bagpipe. The pipers are everywhere. And weirdo tourists like me who take pictures of them as well. It was not as crowded as I feared it would be, so we wanderead along the Royal Mile and had already learned how to spot a cheap touristy kilt and how to spot a classy one.
|Bag-Pipers are everywhere|
|New Town has it's charme as well|
The old times and dark ages are very much alive in Edinburgh and you are reminded of them when you go through one of the little alleys or passageways. The Royal Mile today might be mostly tourist crap and expensive pubs, but there is still so much history present that it is definitely a good idea to go on a guided tour. One speciality of the city, next to being the writer's capital of the world, is ghost stories. So we took a tour around the graveyards and catacombs of Edinburgh with some of the most gruesome stories. The young student who gave us the tour was brilliant. I translated to my Mom, what she didn't understand, but we decided that for her sakes, we would do another tour in German the next day. It was a different route, different stories and a different tour guide, but still interesting and exciting. This time the tour took us Undergrounds, in the old cellars and catacombes where workingclass people used to have their businesses in the Middle Ages. Apparently those huge areas had been forgotten for a long while until a pub owner wanted to redo his basement and by accident found the entry to this huge maze down there.
|One of the many alleys|
|Edinburgh is also a writer's city and from Sir Walter Scott to J.K. Rowling, they are everywhere!|
|One of the many pubs we had a drink in|
One evening we went to Regent Bar, a pub that our host had recommended us, as it was close to our apartment we decided to have some drinks there. The best cider we had in Edinburgh was right on our first evening at Maxie's, a place that looked so much like a rip-off and still we not only had the best cider there, but also the best fish and chips of our trip. It was yummy! and we were sitting on the terrace overlooking beautiful Victoria Street. One of the best spots in the city.
But that one evening we were at this gay bar Chris had recommended us, which was cozy, later buzzing with locals and really nice to stay in. Sadly my mum hurt her ankle by slipping on the floor a little bit. (It actually looked hilarious, I still remember thinking "She can't be that drunk yet!"). Her ankle swell and the whole foot turned blue after a while. We went to a pharmacy where they were of great assistance and gave us a bandage for my Mom to walk with less pain. I wanted to take a break the next day. but she didn't want to hear it. Arthur's Seat was scheduled for that day and when I tell you it's the highest hill in Edinburgh you will know it was not a great idea to conquer it with a sprained ankle. I checked, it's 251 metres high. We were lucky, it was a sunny day and the area around Arthur's Seat is just amazing. I have never been to the Highlands and of course, 250 metres is not very high, but the countryside, the colours of the grass, everything in that park gives you a glimpse of how beautiful Scotland can actually be.
My mom is a real hero, she walked up that hill and down the other side as we had read than one of the most beautiful villages, Duddingston, was there, with the oldest pub of Edinburgh, The Sheep Heid Inn. After arriving there, we were both pretty tired and the comfortable leather armchairs made us almost fall asleep. While we were enjoing the hospitality and taking in all the great old-fashioned interior, a wedding party arrived. I can tell you, in Scottish weddings it's not hte bride, it's the men you look at. They were all wearing kilts and special stockings with knifes attached to their calfs. I loved it!
The countryside around the village is adorable, you should pay it a visit when you are there.
|My mum climbed all the way up with her hurt ankle|
|The Sheep Heid Inn|
One extra you get when you travel to Scotland's capital is the sea. We love the sea, we love harbours, the rough winds, everything about being on the shore. One day we took a bus to the harbour to have a look around. Although there is some interesting architecture, in general we were rather disappointed by it. But we had a nice break, sitting on a bench looking out onto the water and watch a man daringly feeding some seagulls. When dramatic black clouds started to appear we knew we had to get into one of the restaurants, Loch Fyne. It was still pretty early, so we basically had the huge place to ourselves. It must have been one of the old fisherhalls and now is a rather fancy restaurant. We felt very adventurous, so we ordered the Haggis-Springrolls. I was convinced that, when in Edinburgh you have to try Haggis sometime. My mom was less convinced, but the springrolls she was willing to try. And man, they were good! Really tasty!
|Bad weather on it's way...|
|Haggis Spring Roles. Delicious!|
On our last day, Saturday there was a farmer's market on the foot of Edinburgh Castle and I had read that you could buy the best chocolate of Scotland there, The Chocolate Tree, so of course we went! The market was very small, but charming and we got a free sample of lamb stew one the slow food-movement booth. I normally don't like lamb at all, but it was really good, I can tell you. So tender and just perfect with the potatoe and some carrot.
|The slow food sample on the market. Yummie!|
The chocolate booth didn't disappoint either. They even have some Haggis-flavoured chocolate, which we tried and it is not as bad as it sounds. But we decided to get some salted caramel chocolate for the loved ones at home instead.
|A breakfast I had in a cafe around the corner from our flat|
The castle is definitely worth a visit. You know how I don't like crowds and some areas were just so crammed with people, I didn't go in. Instead I waited outside and watched all the people, again some wedding parties, assembling to wait for the famous cannon fire. It is all pretty silly somehow. With big tamtam they shoot a cannon every day at exactly one o'clock. It's all very Mary Poppinsy. But while standing there, my eyes found the dog cemetery underneath us. The officers had buried their beloved dogs there and even given them tombstones. I found that oddly touching. The military leaders of a strong country and they still mourn for their dogs and honour them in such a public way. Very human and kind of cute.
|The dog cemetery|
|People waiting for the famous cannon shoot|
If you are a Christmas fan like me you have to visit the Edinburgh Christmas shop. All year long you can buy jungle stuff in a glittering environment filled with Christmas music. It's awesome. The young woman in the shop was incredibly nice. She loves Christmas just as much as I do and recommended that we visit Edinburgh during that time of year, as Prince's Garden is turning into one big Christmas market and the whole admosphere is magical. I bought a Scotch-terrier-ornament for our Christmas tree. I chose the Scottish tartan pattern-one, of course. It's adorable!
|The christmas shop|
If you are looking for a place to have a treat, try Mimi's bakehouse. We had our cream tea there and enjoyed it a lot. All the cakes and muffins look so awesome. I could have eaten there everyday!
|Food at Mimi's Bakehouse. Yummie!|
|Our Cream Tea|
My mom loved Edinburgh even more than London and Paris and I have to admit, it is a beautiful city with a very charming atmosphere. It's incredibly easy to get in touch with each other in the city's open and welcoming atmosphere and the pub culture reminded me of the famous hospitality of the Rhineland.
|Someone has taken the cork from my lunch. W.C. Fields - From a bar in New Town|
|A typical Edinburgh street|
|On our way to Arthur's Seat|
|Me and my Mom|
|My wonderful breakfast at Bella Italia|
|Edinburgh Castle from afar|