Dusk in Edinburgh's Old Town, no filter

This month I was honored to judge #NoFilter Edinburgh — a photography competition run by London City Airport — which challenges bloggers to showcase the best of the city without using filters to enhance the images. Edinburgh is such a historic and elegant city, its beauty shines through without needing hours of touch ups or filter apps to improve its atmospheric facades.

Take a look at some of the unfiltered images from the competition below, along with thoughts from each of the entrants.

If you feel inspired to pay a visit, you can check out my itinerary ideas for a host of things to do in Scotland’s most beguiling city. Read more...

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Edinburgh's Beltane Fire Festival

From time immemorial, Celtic pagans have celebrated four great festivals that straddled the equinoxes and solstices: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh. These festivals were both practical and mystical in nature, tied as they were to the herding of livestock and the appeasement of capricious spirits and faeries.

Beltane historically occurred on the first of May to mark the beginning of summer and the time when the cattle were driven out to summer pastures. Arcane rituals using special bonfires were performed to protect the cattle, crops, and people. Fire played an integral role in the ceremony as a protective buffer against evil. Feasts and drinking added a celebratory nature to the proceedings, and yellow flowers symbolically representing fire were strewn over dwellings for yet more protection.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

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Wildest Drams on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Serendipity never tasted so good.

While chatting with random people is the name of the game for traveling extroverts, it usually takes a beer or two for introverts like me to get anywhere near that mental space. It can be uncomfortable, but travel has a way of greasing the social gears, and so this story begins in my favorite Edinburgh haunt: The Bow Bar.

As is typical for me…

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Hadrian's Brasserie at the Balmoral Hotel

Edinburgh has no shortage of amazing places to eat. From traditional Scottish dishes to every type of ethnic cuisine you can imagine, Edinburgh provides one of the best foodie scenes (along with Glasgow) in the whole country. Now, I love a fine dining experience, but I tend to gravitate toward more affordable options just to stretch my dollars further. Every once in awhile, however, an opportunity to break from my self-imposed foodie exile presents itself. When I contacted The Balmoral Hotel, perhaps Edinburgh’s most famous hotel, I found just that opportunity. Hotels, however, are not the places you generally look for memorable meals — to wit, most hotel meals I’ve had have been both over-priced and unremarkable. Read more...

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The Old Town Chambers, Edinburgh, Scotland

Yes, dreams. My dreams.

I’m so choosy about accommodations when I travel and yet I’ve been unable to articulate the particular style and flavor that appeals to me. I just know it when I see it, and this is why I spend countless hours mining the web for something that glitters to my eye.

Edinburgh makes it even harder because it overflows with high-end accommodations, from top-of-the-line B&Bs like Six Brunton Place to world-class hotels like The Balmoral, and every year new and interesting options present themselves… Read more...

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