I’ve done a fair bit of traveling recently. Not as much as I would have liked to, but while Ryanair is a boon to poor students everywhere, traveling is still kinda expensive and I’m on a budget.
That said, I’ve gotten to see some interesting places. Florence, Athens, Istanbul; Dublin, Belfast, and soon Paris. But as much as I enjoyed seeing all those beautiful cities, there’s no place like home. However unfair it may be, deep down, I measure all those places against New York and find them a little bit wanting.
There’s only one city that’s managed to capture my heart in quite the same way, and that’s Edinburgh.
Love at First Sight
I still remember my very first sight of Edinburgh. I went up with my friends in April, on an itinerary which included York (cute, but wet) and Durham (less wet, just as cute, and very, very small). We stepped out of Waverly train station on market street and I tilted my neck back to look up, and up, and up at North Bridge and the towering form of the Scotsman hotel.
I fell for the city immediately.
It’s hard to explain exactly why I love it so much. It might be complex texture of Old Town, the multilayered streets with their grey stone buildings sloping downwards from the Royal Mile, the castle perched above and Canongate falling away below. It might be the eerie quiet of St. Cuthbert’s cemetery; the rows of dark old gravestones, faded by weather or time, which stand shadowed under the trees. It might be the glimpse of Holyrood Park between buildings on Pleasance, the sheer red cliff which rises above a gentle green hill. It might be all of those things.
A Literary City
There are some cities which have managed to produce an astonishing number of well-renowned writers. Dublin is one of them (and so many of them seem to be doctors or trained in medicine as well!). Edinburgh is another.
I think I can see why that’s the case, why writers would find Edinburgh particularly inspiring. It’s a visually stimulating city, with evocative architecture and dramatic views. There are buildings with two front doors separated by the length of a hallway and ten storeys. There are beautiful houses tucked into tiny closes, modern amenities clad in ancient stone, tiny dusty bookshops and grand Georgian avenues. A cosmopolitan place filled with fiercely nationalist people.
It is a city of conflicts and contradictions, steeped in history; these are the things of which stories are made.
Farewell, My Love
If I were made of money, I’d buy myself a little flat in Edinburgh and spend some time there each year, writing.
Unfortunately, I’m not.
I’ll have to make do with two trips — eight days — a hundred photos — the memories of a place which captured my heart.