Saturday, 2 February 2013

Edinburgh Reflections

I have written about so many places we visited in Scotland late last year, but I still have some photos and reflections to share.  Here are some random thoughts about bus conversations, tramworks and tramworks.  I have also shared my reminders about places I would like to visit on our next visit.

We have a calendar on our wall with a picture of Princes Street in the early Twentieth Century.  It doesn't look very different to today.  Edinburgh is like that.  Unchanging.   Calton Hill (top photo) never changes.  Though the nearby Council offices have.  Many older buildings are so magnificent that their purpose might change but they still look the same.  The above Scotsman building has changed internally from a newspaper office to a hotel but still looks the same on the outside.

One of the biggest changes is the plan to bring back trams.  On our last visit in 2009, Princes Street was a mess with roadworks to lay the new tram tracks.  I was certain they would be finished by our 2012.  You just have to look at the above photo to see that they aren't.  It seems to be a comedy of errors. 

I don't think we met with one person where the topic of trams didn't come up.  The plans were shelved and then started again.  According to those we spoke to, the tram line was planned to go to the airport but now they wont go all the way and people have been told they can't take large bags on the trams.

Another constant topic of conversation was the proposed referendum on Scottish Independence.  Not a lot of enthusiasm for it was heard.  I would need more information to be able to make more comment.  It sounds like that is part of the problem.  The impression I got was that there was a lot of Braveheart-style nationalism without deeper understanding.

Meanwhile another news story broke while we were in Edinburgh.  I was walking past this Santa Bear in Cameron Toll when I saw big screen headlines about 'Kate Middleton' being hospitalised for morning sickness. At the time, I was amazed that her morning sickness would hit the headlines.  Then came the prank call from the Aussie radio station and the subsequent suicide of the nurse involved.  It made me sad her family and for William and Kate to have such a dark cloud over what should be a happy time for them.

When we had our recent Burns Night Supper, we were flabbergasted at how little tartan tat we brought home from our Edinburgh trip at the end of last year.   There is just never enough room in the suitcase for everything we want to take home.  Above is the sort of Scottish stoneware I would love to bring home if only I wasn't so anxious it would be too heavy and too breakable.  (Maybe I will need to order something like these.)

This photo is of a tattoo parlour we passed regularly on the bus.  I love how it boasts that it both does tattoos and removes them.  Reminds me of my only time in a tattoo parlour, which incidentally was in Edinburgh.  A young woman I met in a hostel (many years ago) wanted a tattoo so I went along with her.  The tattooist was an artist and suggested a negative of an image.  When she saw the tattoo they had done on her back she burst into tears.  The moral of the story is that you check what tattoo they are putting on you before it is there for good.

We spent a lot of time going back and forth into the city on the bus.  Past tattoo parlours, Arthur's seat, the church where Sylvia was christened, Santa waving at us from a Christmas tree sales, Christmas trees in B&Bs, and lots of charity shops.  Here is Dolly on the bus above.  It was often dark by the time we were going home.  Sylvia loved going upstairs on the double decker buses.  E and I got tired of rummaging for the right change in coins for our bus fare.  I loved some of the bus conversations:
  • I met an old lady who chatted away about kids and the snow and then launched into telling me that she had been queuing all her life and anyone who thought they could jump ahead of her in the bus queue could go up a gum tree.  I didn't tell her that I've never mastered the art of queuing for Edinburgh buses.
  • We overheard a couple behind us talking about skiing.  The man then said that he found downhill skiing as pointless as golf.  My father-in-law - a golf enthusiast - was most displeased when we relayed the comment.  In fact Sylvia thinks she has now discovered what golf is - according to her you go up a mountain and put a ball in a hole.
  • We met an old guy on a bus who told us that now he had his seniors bus pass he spent time travelling for free around Scotland.  He said he would love to go to Australia because of Kylie Minogue.  We didn't tell him that she is more likely to be in the UK and that he was probably not her type!

This is my sister-in-law's cat Tiggy.  With the Christmas tree she had knocked over.  It was lovely staying near to family.  They made the trip so much easier.  They made us meals, gave local advice, loaned us a stroller and a brolly when we needed it.  And of course kept us entertained.  One of E's nephews amused me when he asked if we had television in Australia.  And at the end of the trip we were able to leave them our surplus food and even a few of Sylvia's clothes for her younger cousin.

Yes there were some things that weren't great.  The lack of good local fresh fruit and vegetables in the supermarket, drying our loads of laundry inside in our flat and being unwelcome in too many pubs because we were accompanied by a 3 year old. Not enough time to go to Next, Tesco or souvenir shops.  Most things were good.  E loved listening to BBC Scotland and the bargains at the 'new' Primark department store.  We were pleased at finding some great cafes, and the Christmas decorations everywhere just added to the magic of the trip.

As with our last visit there were a few places I would have liked to have visited and am making notes of them for our next trip.  I also found that the Good Soup Guide and Trip Advisor were places I found useful information on Edinburgh cafes.

North Berwick:
  • Charlie's Cafe, High Street
  • Cake Cafe, High Street
  • Westgate Gallery
So that is the end of my Edinburgh posts.  A list of all my posts from both my 2009 and 2012 trips can be found towards the bottom of my Reflections and Reviews page.

Update August 2013: just saw Emma's post on her places to eat vegan food in Edinburgh on her recent trip - must check out some of these on our next trip if they are still about.


  1. I have no idea whether I'll ever go to Edinburgh but if I do at least now I'll know where to go!

    1. Thanks Joanne - there are lots of great places to go - it is getting easier to find somewhere nice to eat

  2. It's such a beautiful city, I would love to go back there one day. you've completely distracted me with "World Nutella Day"- who knew?!

    1. Thanks Brydie - it is indeed a beautiful place - hope you get back there one day - and meanwhile we can all enjoy nutella day :-)

  3. Thanks - I enjoyed reading your thougjts on edinburgh and where you want to go next.

    1. Thanks Cakelaw - there are always more places than I can try on any trip but at least I am likely to be back in Edinburgh even if not for a while

  4. The tattoo parlour is quite funny but it is indeed practical! I couldn't imagine getting a design that I hated. I think that is my fear! Tiggy is a photogenic cat-he looks like a Christmas card! :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - I wondered how long between the tattoos and the removals at the centre - a fun research project there! And Tiggy does look gorgeous but would be even better if the christmas tree was upright :-)

  5. It sounds like Sylvia has combined skiing and golfing in her mind!!

    What a lovey post Johanna - I enjoyed it hugely. Thank you for taking the time to write it up. I chuckled at the woman referring to queue jumpers going up gum trees, think that the tartan china you picture is fantastic (I like the blue colours), and am interested in the tram dramas that have been going on for 3 years. Perth politicians are talking about a light rail system here, which would be similar to trams I think, and there is lots of controversy about that at present.

    If and when I am back in Scotland, I will certainly be referring back to this post and your others - a wealth of information :)

    1. Thanks Kari - I really want some of the tartan china but E says I need to get rid of something if I buy it :-) I am sure you will be back in Scotland and I hope to hear how you go when you are there. I think we are lucky in Melbourne to have never got rid of our trams as other cities seem to regret it now and want them back!

  6. Thank you for sharing - I've never been to Scotland but it's one of the destinations I'd really love to go!

    I've been thinking about getting a tattoo for a while, and already have ideas for it. I'll definitely check before though! :)


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