March 2011

Calton Hill's footpath, high over Edinburgh

Edinburgh. Now there’s a city I could live in.

Since my last State of the Savage update I’ve spent three weeks in Auld Reekie, exploring her twisting wynds, secret closes, and rich neighborhoods. I’m happy to declare it a success! I shot close to 2,000 photos, met with numerous kind folks representing businesses in Scotland, and culled enough information for weeks – if not months – of blog posts. Unquestionably, three weeks is not long enough in this great city.

But it’s not a city like New York, London, or Buenos Aires. I read a quote somewhere, and I’m going to butcher it, that said “Edinburgh is a city that thinks it’s a town and acts like a village.” Read more...

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Glenkinchie Distillery

Follow the trail until you come to a road, then look for a tall chimney. These were the instructions Alistair, an ex-Royal Navy submariner, gave me as we parted ways at the old railway path on the outskirts of Pencaitland. I trudged down the muddy trail, keeping my head bent into the erratic winds and brief, icy showers and wondered when I’d see a road. The things I do for whisky.

He must have felt sorry for me.

Earlier, in the small town of Pencaitland, I had asked the bus driver if it was the right stop for Glenkinchie Distillery, uncertainty plain in my voice. Read more...

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After 297 spiraling steps I reach the top of Edinburgh’s Sir Walter Scott monument. Dizziness from the climb and a sudden sense of vertigo assault me, and for a split second I lament that I hadn’t purchased any insurance for travel for this trip. Erratic winds rip at my jacket, blur my vision with tears, and roar in my ears. It’s a trial by wind to reach Edinburgh’s upper levels.

But the reward is immense.

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Hotel Ceilidh-Donia

After leaving my swanky flat in Quartermile, I headed southeast to Edinburgh’s Newington neighborhood and my new abode for the next nine nights: Hotel Ceilidh-Donia. Calling it a hotel is almost disingenuous. With fewer than 20 rooms, a cozy atmosphere, friendly staff that enjoy talking to you, and delicious food, Hotel Ceilidh-Donia felt more like a large B&B than a hotel. While there’s no shortage of hotels in Edinburgh, there certainly is a dearth of excellent, affordable B&B-style accommodation.

To be honest, leaving the centrally-located Quartermile development for a place slightly off the beaten track concerned me. I like to be in the center of life as much as possible so I can easily walk and explore the place, but the concerns I had about it’s southerly location were forgotten… Read more...

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A View from Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a city that treats the visitor right. It’s beauty and enchantment is readily apparent; its monuments and palaces drift among the clouds, and they could easily lead you on a gorgeous quest around the city.

Yes, good times in Edinburgh are not buried (though there is a lot to see underground). But the Scots hate waste of all kinds and so do I. Why have a 90% awesome trip when you can max it out? I’ve learned some hard lessons on my trips to Edinburgh, and they’ve crystallized over this most recent three-week jaunt.

Scrawl these lessons on a sheet of paper and stuff it in your back pocket. Just don’t forget! Read more...

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