Sunday, June 1, 2014

On the Streets of Edinburgh:

Walking through the streets of Edinburgh: a city whose color palette is a striking ensemble of tans, browns, creams, patina-greens, and various shades of blacks–with bits of bold-yet-stout color stashed here and there. The expected red phone booths really do dot the city's streets, and tiny pipes coalesce down the backs of the city's houses–so neatly aligned, they are. The city's sidewalks can be death traps if not paying attention to what's ahead; a drop off here, a never ending cascade of stairs there, a twirl and a twist of the road up ahead–which quickly becomes the road down below; chaotic, at times, can be this city's streets. Its original defensive walls date from around the twelfth century, and it's easy to feel as if scruffy looking warriors in loin cloths may run down into the city from its surroundings–from the Highlands. In other words: Edinburgh is seeping in layers of history. A stroll through the botanical gardens leads to sights of beauty and delight, while a walk or a sit within one of the city's numerous parks leads to further flower beds and seeing heads–people–to watch, also or instead. Yes, Edinburgh is a city for strolling, for people watching, and for being dapper within–in the New Town, that is; the portion of the city that was laid out in the eighteenth century. It was designed in such a way that the houses strung down its streets are lined up in such a way that they exemplify a 'typically Scottish' undertaking, that is: wonderful crescents and circular shaped and highly planned streets, so stately filled with the most glamorous of Scottish mansions that must house the city's established citizens, embassies, and other old money types. Sweeping in secession were these circular shaped areas of the city; they stunned with me with their representation of Enlightenment thinking, in combination with their Georgian grandeur. The Old Town, however, is more full of tourists, as that's where the Royal Mile is located, with the city's castle on one end and the Hollyrood Palace at its other. A self portrait by Rembrandt hangs in the Scottish National Gallery, as do many Dutch and Spanish seventeenth century paintings–my favorites. Complimenting the glory of the city's wealth of paintings, was and is the city's wealth of offerings for places and spaces in which to brunch. I revel in brunch. What I also highly appreciated was the city's liberal attitude, which is interestingly enough, I now see, juxtaposed against a very rigid and tightly aligned urban grid and patterning, which is subsequently reflected in the look and feel of the city's buildings. The old quite literally meets the new in Edinburgh, from the inside out–as, other than the Scottish Parliament Building, completed only a decade ago, modern architecture is hard to come by in the inner city, rightfully so; instead, interiors have been redone, façades have been and are being washed, cleaned, and scrubbed–some are still so covered in layers of–quite literally–centuries' worth of soot, so readily offered up by the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. Today, Edinburgh's citizen's keep their historic background fresh and maintained–they treasure their city, and its history, and its future.