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Report 136: Edinburgh in Two

By Alice Twain from Italy, Summer 2003

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Page 3 of 10: Chapter II. What we have seen: Edinburgh, the city itself

Edinburgh is a gorgeous city. I fell in love with it as soon as we landed crossing a thick layer of gray clouds (we had been flying over a sea of meringue for most of the time) and took the bus to the center of the city. Despite the rain. The rain! I had not seen any rain in months (except for a few drops during thunder storms)! It really came as a blessing on that evening, though we suffered it a bit in the next couple of days, doing our sightseeing under a constant drizzle.

The center of Edinburgh is clearly divided in two parts, the Old Town and the New Town. The first is a chaos of tall buildings (extremely tall, considering when they were built) that stretches along the Royal Mile and the meandering streets on its sides, the New Town is a kind of urbanistic experiment, an ideal town of the XIX century, with its regular pattern of streets and buildings and gardens.

Yes, the garden: the Bruntsfeld Links and the Meadows: two large, adjoined areas of meadows and trees, with golf courses where people from Edinburgh play on Sunday mornings (not a Úlite sport up there) and the Princess Gardens, where we often ate a picnic along with hundreds of other people, mostly locals. The Princess Gardens in particular are dotted with flower beds with incredible colors, offer a serie of lovely sights of the Old Town and the Castle, and have a railway running right through them, but you will not notice if it if you don't know about it already!

And the shops, in particular the small shops. Big shops, chains and boutiques look the same worldwide, but the small ones are compleltely different from those that you can find in Italy. They are smaller, they are strange (selling unusual assortments of goods: in Italy a newsagent sells newspapers and magazines PERIOD!) and they are nice. Most of them have very small windows and colorful wooden fronts. Maybe, the flowers that are everywhere and the shops' fronts are an answer to the greyness of the houses built in stone and the weather, but they look gorgeous. And the bookshops!!! I know, we are the strange ones, but Italians just don't read books. And they even read few newspapers. In Edinburgh bookshops are everywhere. Big ones selling new books and small ones selling used books.

AND THE CAFES AND RESTAURANTS! As soon as we arrived and explored a bit, I suddenly though that my eating experience would be different from the previous one (but I will talk about it later).

One drawback: everything cloese down between 5 and 6,30 pm. Being used to Italian opening times we often found ourselves at a loss when we were asked to leave a shop at 5:30. RATING: *****

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