Sunday, 8 May 2011

Wonderful things in Edinburgh

So when I was admitted to the university, I had all these big ideas at to what I'd do when I came here: go to Portabello beach, take a day trip out to Melrose abbey, hang out on the royal mile and have picnics in the botanical gardens, take regular ryanair trips to Paris, Rome, Prague etc. So I didn't do that... However, I have had an incredible year...

1. Sometimes when I've had something of major importance to do, and I MUST stay in to do it, i.e. write an essay, the more appealing option on a sunny day has been to discover a new part of the city. In one particularly wonderful day I walked down through new town, past queensferry and through the impressive crescents, discovered both the national gallery of modern art and the french institute. The walk includes a tranquil footpath along the river. Another day I continued walking until I discovered the trendy suburb of Stockbridge, which is completely like another town, really beautiful buildings, the river, and my favourite patisserie in town, patisserie madeleine. Salted caramel and apple torte, very small but satisfying. To ease the essay pressure, I also used the opportunity to get a hair cut.

2. Aimless wondering, then discovering something interesting, yes this is kind of like the first, but I was amazed when I first ventured through the meadows to discover bruntsfield, marchmont and morningside. It's making me realise, I desperately need a bike.

3. Being in a cosmopolitan town is awesome. I walk down the street and so often hear a multitude of different accents and languages. Sometimes, I must admit, I discretely stalk Italians so I can listen to their conversation, not to be nosy, to learn! :P The Italian and French institutes are also really useful resources, with fully stocked libraries and language lessons on offer, besides ongoing cultural events.

4. Usher hall. Since I discovered the free voucher which allows students tickets anywhere in the theatre for £5, I have been a regular. The acoustics are amazing, and the touring orchestras are usually top notch. Festival theatre was also a great surprise, unlike usher hall the exterior is very modern, though when I went in I discovered a preserved theatre hall, and stay there for around four hours to watch the marriage of Figaro. Next year I will definitely take advantage of this place.

5. Farmers market breakfasts. I might as well say Falko breakfasts, as that is the only stall I buy from. Falko is actually a German bakery over in Bruntsfield, they have been reknowned as the best bakery in Edinburgh, for their fine yeasty breads, prestals, sacher torte and enticing range in the patisserie. I have only once been to the caffe', as it's a little expensive. My parents and I had breakfast there on my dad's birthday. Needless to say he, like many, loved the cinnamon swirl and the freshly ground coffee. It's probably one of the best pastries available. Beside the taste, what I like most about this place is the freshness, the fact that the cakes weren't made via a mass production line, but rather handmade, and with local ingredients.

6. The jazz bar. Now I seldom go out to bars or pubs, but this place is rather special. The prices are extortionate, but the atmosphere cannot be beaten. The small stage is underground and the entrance fee is about £4 for students, slightly more for those without concessions. The Jazz musicians make this place feel like a step into the past. Darkness, jazz music, tables in close vicinity to one another so you can make small talk. It's more like an informal concert hall than a gig, there is no one wildly dancing or standing up clapping. The wine list is extensive, though for me it's more of a place to have Pimms.

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