“As if I Had Waked in Utopia”

Portraits of an Expedition...

Portraits of an Expedition...

We’re back from Edinburgh, and had a great time – the place far exceeded our expectations, and we were decidedly charmed. Some highlights:

The city at night!  Nothing else to say, really.  Beautiful floodlit buildings, a whole host of brilliant restaurants, easily walkable and safe.

Princes Street Gardens, where we ate our brunch most days: right in the heart of it, yet thankfully calm on those warm September days.

Staying just out of the centre of the city, in Leith, was a great experience in itself.  A little bit more peaceful and away from the city centre action, we awoke to sunny mornings overlooking shiny blue water.  Our hotel was brilliant – and they upgraded us for free!  In the evenings we could stroll along the cobbled streets, exploring the boutique shops, bars and quirky little restaurants.  The Ship on the Shore looked especially worth a visit – it’s a shame that neither of us are big fish fans!  Also close by was the Ocean Terminal shopping centre, where we had a meal in the Zizzi Restaurant, where a glass ‘wall’ looks out over the docks and the Royal Yacht Britannia.  Wonderful.

People can be this friendly? We found the city very welcoming, from the nice man on the till at Sainsbury’s to the drunk football fan on the bus. Magic!

Calton Hill was recommended to us by one Mr Milburn, and for the minimum effort involved in getting to the top you didn’t half get a good view. Preceded by a coffee in the Costa on Hanover Street, we got an eyeful of the city on our very first day.

And finally, that close proximity to the sea.  Just being able to catch a glimpse of its silver shimmer when you turn a city corner is uplifting!  Exploring the guidebooks we found that we could get a train to the small seaside town of North Berwick.  Just half an hour from the centre, this sleepy place is a stone’s throw from a most beautiful white sandy beach.  The coast is dotted with small islands, where in the summer trips can be taken to see their rare birdlife.  We walked for a little too long, possibly (if the guide book is to be trusted) covering seven or eight miles.  There are also many friendly dog walkers around!

In short: George Eliot, whom we quote in this post’s title, was just about bang-on. Thanks, Edinburgh – we’ll be back.

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