Image Description: Panoramic view from Calton Hill, Edinburgh near the base of the Nelson Monument southwest towards Edinburgh Castle. Top of the Political Martyrs’ Monument is visible in the foreground. The clock tower of the Balmoral Hotel and Princes Street lies in the right of the picture.
“Edinburgh” by Chris Sheridan
Coming from a small Scottish village, Edinburgh was the ‘big city’. However, after 5 minutes you realise Edinburgh is exactly like a village, albeit the biggest village in Scotland. It’s not unusual to bump into your neighbour in Princes Street and from bitter experience, the chances of bumping into your ex the day you come up town with bad hair and a hangover are unfortunately high.
Historians will tell you the town was much smaller at one time. Before Edinburgh expanded in the 1700’s poverty and prosperity lived side by side within the city walls, often in the same buildings but on different floors (the Poor on the bottom and top with the middle floors being the ‘Des Res’ if you could afford it). Classes and conversations would mingle in the tenements, taverns and wee wynds of the Old Town, paving the way for The Enlightenment, when ideologies and intellect brimmed over into oceans of the modern world. Social intimacy and discourse between rich and poor lessened with the development of the New Town. The gentry moved across the Nor Loch and classes became literally divided.
The architectural demarcation of old and new helps with navigation. Although small, it is easy to get lost. Hills in the Old Town mean streets can sit on top of streets in a kind of Escher virtual reality. If you do find yourself disorientated, the skyline can help to get back on track – The Castle, St Giles, Arthur’s Seat, The Scott Monument and Calton Hill – you’re never very far from another local landmark.
When Burke and Hare dropped off bodies at the University buildings they were unaware of the legacy in medicine Edinburgh would leave the world, for example, the hypodermic syringe or James Lind who essentially created clinical trials and saved countless sailors. Innovative inventions from telephone to toaster have been churned out here for centuries. More recently, Dolly the sheep from the Roslin Institute is immortalised at the National Museum.
Edinburgh is saturated with cutting edge technology, encased in ancient streets. There’s a vibrant science, data and technology scene. Gaming, coding and A.I. companies are creating opportunities for generations to come, Unicorn tech companies are starting up and staying in the city. Once the Athens of the North, the Data Driven Initiative hopes to now make Edinburgh the data capital of Europe.
Before I got into technology I worked in bars and restaurants. Those fun days delayed me getting a Monday to Friday job for many years while I ate and drank like a Queen most days. Office life (and general ageing) means parties aren’t as frequent for me anymore but I still enjoy the abundance of good food and drink on offer. There’s Michelin restaurants, boutique bistros, artisan cafes, traditional pubs and stylish bars all offering good quality cuisine from all over the world. Seafood, steak, Scottish, Mexican, Asian and everything in between, you’re spoiled for choice.
Hospitality is in abundance here. Don’t believe the Edinburgh expression “you’ll have had your tea”, supposedly said when you don’t want to feed unwanted visitors. In my thirty years here I’ve only ever heard it used in jest. Edinburgh people are generous, warm and welcoming. They’ll make sure you’re well fed and watered, and they’ll join you for a blether in the process.
If you are on a short visit and squeezing in the sights, take a look at this suggested walking tour. It captures Edinburgh’s best bits and only takes around two hours to do the full route. We’ve also added some lesser known places of interest you’ll see along the way – https://www.chrissheridan.co.uk/explore-edinburgh-interactive-map.html.