I’ve had the opportunity over the past few years to visit quite a few cities in the United Kingdom. Each one has a unique personality and it’s own perks. However, none of them strike my heart with such awe, splendor and beauty as does Edinburgh. From my first footsteps off the Scottrail in Edinburgh Waverly Station to the wander through both Old and New Towns leaves me with a gaping jaw and a mind floating in the the heavy rain burdened clouds.
It’s funny that they have two neighborhoods in the center of Edinburgh that are both very old historic areas, yet one is actually called “New Town”. You see, “Old Town” has the Castle as the central focal point. They actually built the city around the castle and once they needed to expand and add another “suburb”, King James VII suggested they build there. Wikipedia has a great article summarizing the history of the planning of this area of the city and they called it a “marvel of city planning”.
Every which way you turn there is some stunning old architecture coated in the grime of centuries past begging for a photograph. I’ve been there in the sunshine, but more often I have been there in the rain and I still love it. When it starts raining, there are plenty of coffee shops, stores, pubs, restaurants and museums to pop into. Some of my favorites are just around the corner from the Royal Mile, like Maxies, where you go down the stairs to sit on their patio… You see, Edinburgh is a city built on hills, with stairs going up and down to get in between the buildings and roads that run up and down the sides of the hills instead of over the top.
In day, you can walk the Royal Mile, see a few sights in Old Town, have a quick pint and brief lunch in a pub and also walk a little bit of the New Town area as well. I have a loop that I like to run that takes you out of Edinburgh Waverly Sation to the left, up the stairs to the Royal Mile, up to the Castle, around the grounds, down to Merchant Street, then back up and through Princes Park across to Rose Street in the New Town area and then back to Princes Park where you’ll see the wonders of the Scottish Rite and then you can hop back over to the train station to complete your walking loop.
let me tell you if you think you can get fat and Italy you can. But there’s no way you could stay thin in Budapest. I can’t get over how fantastic the food is and how easy it is to find something that you were going to love to consume. You’re going to be sad when your meal is over and wish you could start again.
On our first night we went for a wander around our little neighborhood. There are so many great smells from the street and it was a holiday weekend when most places would be close the next day so every restaurant was bustling with activity. Each hostess standing in the street recognizde that we spoke English and offered to help us with the menus.
The area we chose to eat was Liszt Ferenc square. Right by the Liszt school & loads of statues of Franz Liszt. The Cafe Vian had outdoor seating and a large menu. The staff was super friendly & went out of their way to recommend some great local Hungarian wine & dishes. I has traditional Chicken Paprikash – my favorite Hungarian dish.
Jake ordered the Duck Breast prepared medium rare with a creamy pepper sauce. I always thought the French had a good handle on their au poivre sauce, but I now know the Hungarians do it better. (Yes, I said it!) His sauce was spicy & sharp like biting int a peppercorn the cream didn’t over power or cut the flavor of the sauce… To die for!
Lastly we had some sweets. The Hungarians are famous for desert. It was a hard decision since everything on the menu sounded great and the people next to us had amazing looking sweets at their table. In the end, in honor of J’s Dad’s favorite we had lemon meringue pie. Wow! Never had better. I’m certain the crust was a pound of butter & it was not flaky in the sense I’m used to but I started from the back with the crust first.
We’re off on a two week stint in Budapest. Jake has always wanted to go and after doing quite a bit of research I am equally as excited to see what the city has to offer.
Since we have worked on ships, we are fortunate to have many friends from Hungary who have given us some great ideas and tips. I am expecting to feel quite foreign but not have too difficult of a time. I do not speak any Hungarian & after checking out some of the words & spelling & pronunciation I highly doubt we will pick up much more than the basics. But I also understand that many younger folks speak English fluently… Which will make a big difference to our experience.
I am excited to check out the art nouveau architecture and hit a few ruins bars. We’re planning a day trip up the Danube river to Visegrad. We’re also hoping to hit the opera and a concert or two of both traditional gypsy and modern local music.
Our friends have a few tricks up their sleeves, so I know this will be a great adventure.