The first thing to note about Edinburgh is that it is an incredibly Instagram-able city. I like to sing about time warping in the shower, but this truly feels like I’ve stepped into another era, cars and modern things like tattoo and piercing shops aside. The whole place is soaked in history, down to the way it looks and the curving, cobblestoned streets and pokey, tiny little pubs that seem to have been here since the old town joined with the new.
For these first few days, I did a serious amount of walking. Anyone who knows me well can attest to the fact that walking is really not my steez. I do it, but only because it gets me from here to there. The pleasurable evening strolls many people enjoy, and that idea of just wandering around somewhere with no real destination in mind, or any kind of purpose has never impressed my stay-at-home self. Yet just two days ago, I saw Stu off at work and then walked and walked until I had absolutely no idea where I was. Miles. I walked for miles. With no real purpose beyond getting to know the streets. And finding a coffee shop where the lattes didn’t cost the earth and tasted better than coffee-flavoured hot water.
I found it, thankfully.
There’s this cute little cafe, just up the road from where Stu works on the Royal Mile (yes, he works on the Royal Mile, because Stu has never done a damn thing by half measures) called Cafe Vivo. The till is manned by a nice youth with the most fabulous head of sleek black hair I have ever had the privilege of laying eyes on. They helped me out when I spotted the canvas world map on the wall, dotted with numerous multi-coloured pins. The basic premise is that people from different parts of the world pin their locations on the map and, being a keen-bean myself, I immediately selected a yellow pin and proudly marked out the Mother City. It was the first pin on the African continent (which was hardly my first, or last, moment of realisation about the reality of my bushie status on this land). At any rate, it was a pleasing thing to see that little yellow circle right at the bottom of the continent. Bless, I might have been the first to walk through the doors. The coffee is truly lovely though, have I mentioned? Outside of Costa (which makes a smashing latte, I shan’t lie), it might very well be my go-to fave caffeine injection.
My abiding impressions of Edinburgh, as a city, go along the lines of:
it’s poes cold, but mainly when the wind is blowing because then it gets into every little nook and cranny of yours (my new Harry Potter hoodie, however, showed up and showed out by keeping all the pieces of me it covered warm and wind-free);
it’s all twisty and curvy and oddly connected, by cute little tree-lined paths and the most iconic public transport system it has ever been my privilege to ride;
filled with numerous secrets and treasures and unknown little groves of magical plant-life, it goes without saying that this city is the perfect place for a bit of a loner to head on out and still not feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of people sometimes waiting at the robots (I refuse to call them traffic lights); and
everything is so fucking extra here — the pigeons are so goddamned big, the seagulls are vastly more obnoxious, the tissues are large and the bagels have onion and chives baked into them, not to mention the fact that I tried to pick which chips to buy today and struggled honestly with it.
There’s been a lot of settling in and finding feet and trying to pick up on whatever currents of energy pulse through this curious little city. Admittedly, they are myriad (related: there is a diversity of white people here that I have not seen in my entire life, not even on television) but there is a heartbeat to this place that I’m slowly starting to move to. In moments like these, I wonder about my makeup a lot, and think about the pale-faced, originally European side of my family tree, and where they might have come from, and if my freckles and the faintly reddish tint to my hair that I have outgrown now, come from here. In many respects, it’s a little bit disconcerting not to be on earth that I know in my bones and blood I belong to.
Always, though, it is a time thing. A matter of moments gathering. So while I work through each of those, I’ll unashamedly eat bagels and drink Vivo coffee until it’s done.