An Outsider’s Opinion: A Canadian Student in Edinburgh

3 03 2010

The journey from Canada to Edinburgh wasn’t a smooth one.

After being delayed out of Toronto for five hours, discovering our flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh was cancelled, waiting for what seemed like years for our bags and then finally standing in a line-up that meandered back and forth for almost an hour, our fate was decided. We were each handed a mini KitKat bar and told we’d be taking a bus to Edinburgh – a 10-hour ride. Now that wouldn’t have been so bad if we were going to be travelling in the daytime and could gaze out the window to see the rolling countryside. But it was dark, and would be for the entire ride.

When we finally arrived in Edinburgh, we found our way to a hostel at 5 am. We slept for a quick five hours and when we stepped outside in the morning we stood on the street corner, our mouths hanging open, gasping at the city that surrounded us. With narrow, winding cobblestone streets, secret passages and alleys marked with archways and cathedrals reaching for the sky with ancient steeples, it feels as if time stopped in this city. Arthur’s Seat proudly makes its mark in the centre, while the castle boasts its beauty and history sitting atop the skyline. Canada is such a new country in comparison and our cities are so different from Edinburgh. Both Montreal and Toronto have “old” districts but even the new town in Edinburgh feels like an old town, and I can’t get enough of it.

Dominique Lamberton overlooks Edinburgh, her home away from Canada for six months.

We live in Morningside and frequent the pubs and cafes in the charming neighbourhood. The Morningside Glory has become our local watering hole with great food, The Rocket serves up fresh grilled paninis and great coffee and The Comiston Fry is where I succumbed to my first deep fried Mars bar. They practically deep fry everything in that little shop – haggis, black pudding, sausages and pizza. The Scots must have iron stomachs because deep fried pizza is something I cannot wrap my head around, let alone my belly. And while we’re on the subject of the local cuisine, let’s talk about haggis. Burn’s night was my first encounter with the infamous Scottish dish. We dined at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern on the Royal Mile and enjoyed a pint, a bowl of soup, haggis, neeps and tatties all for £10.

I am surprised about one thing and that’s the time at which most pubs close. I was expecting to have the option to sit in a pub until the wee hours of the morning, but a number of pubs close at 12 or 1 am. The Scotsman’s Lounge has become a favourite; since we arrived we’d been looking for that authentic Scottish bar, with live music and anywhere from fresh-faced 18 year olds to old men enjoying a night out. That is exactly what The Scotsman’s Lounge provides, it does close at 12am on a Friday but I guess that makes for a good opportunity to head to another spot to dance. Since arriving we’d heard of The Caves and envisioned an underground hideout filled with stone caverns. After some slight confusion and an accidental entry to Cabaret Voltaire, we made it to The Caves. It was exactly what we imagined, the atmosphere is among the best I’ve experienced and the interior tops any of my favourite Canadian bars. Combined with The Scotsman’s Lounge it makes for the perfect Scottish night out. But, then again, this is just an outsider’s opinion.

Words by Dominique Lamberton

Photo by Helen Anderson

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