Scotland, First Impressions

It has been less than 24 hours since we arrived in Edinburgh. Being up at 5:30am due to jet lag gave me the opportunity to take some photos while I wandered the quiet and almost traffic free streets in search of coffee. I was back out later that morning to explore the same streets in Old Town, then crowded with hordes of tourists and street performers.

The first thing that struck me was the sense of tradition that permeates the city. The sheer age and history of Old Town is obvious not only in its architecture, but the homage paid to its important residents and events. Edinburgh Castle dates to the 12 century and overlooks the historic city center that was largely spared any bombing in WWII.

IMG_6125Edinburgh Castle

IMG_6041Statue of Adam Smith, father of modern economics

Old Town is full of narrow alleys or “closes”, usually named after an occupant of an apartment the alley leads to or an occupation of one or more residents. A clever marketer named a restaurant/bar near Advocate’s Close “Devil’s Advocate”. Walking through closes is like opening a present and discovering what is inside.

Two closes in Old Town

Memories are long here, for passing along traditional crafts and honoring fallen heroes.

Celtic Craft Center and WWI Memorial

Two of my favorite manifestations of tradition and culture are very much on parade in Edinburgh, fashion/style and food!

Tartan, tartan everywhere! patterns are associated with specific Scottish clans

and you do see kilts (usually on people standing outside of pubs), and not just on bagpipers playing for tourists

You see a lot of items with the traditional motif of thistles, the national flower of Scotland.

IMG_6118Beautiful purple thistle cushion by Voyage Maison

I am working my way up to the traditional dish of haggis, a mixture of sheep organ meat, oatmeal and spices encased in stomach or artificial casing, so fish and chips and Pimms will have to do for now.

Pimms with orange, fresh mint, strawberry, cucumber and lemonade and cod fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s

Even though history and tradition is everywhere, Edinburgh also has an underlying sense of rebelliousness, modernity and independence. The Edinburgh Festival starts next week. Started in 1947, it is the largest annual cultural festival in the world. Also started in 1947 is the Edinburgh Festival Fringe or the “Fringe”, created as an unjuried alternative to the Edinburgh Festival open to any type of performance, sort of the rebellious cousin of festivals.

IMG_6040

office/storefront for Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, you can tell they are just a bit creative and quirky

Can’t wait to explore some more!

 

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