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Expat in Edinburgh: Month 3

Aug 09

Edinburgh Fringe Festival-001Happy August, friends! I’ve never been more excited to see the month of August because I’m in Edinburgh for the largest arts festival in the world: the Fringe Festival! Shows and events are in full swing and Edinburgh is buzzing; streets are packed, the city is filled with pop-up beer gardens, champagne and gin bars, food stalls and street performers, and the atmosphere is so energetic. The Royal Mile is a frenzy of crowds and street performers – I’ve seen everything from South African drummers to sword swallowers to middle-aged men wielding chainsaws – which was part of their act, mind you.

I’ll have lots more Fringe Festival posts coming at you soon, but first I want to recap July – which marks my third month living in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival
What I’ve been up to

At the beginning of the month, I crossed something off my Edinburgh bucket list that I’ve been meaning to do since I arrived: climbing Arthur’s Seat. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me this long to make the climb, but it was worth the wait; the views of the city were just as spectacular as I had hoped, and it was a beautiful, sunny evening to boot.

The climb is fairly easy, but a word to the wise – follow the marked path when climbing back down. I somehow managed to stray from it, and ended up slipping on a patch of gravel. I couldn’t find my footing, and eventually had to slide on my butt and crab walk my way back onto the path. Wine may or may not have been the cause of this ridiculousness. Don’t ask.

Arthur's Seat
I’ve somehow managed to live my whole life without ever attending a music festival, so I jumped at the chance to go Scotland’s biggest music fest: T in the Park. Highlights include the rave that was Fatboy Slim’s DJ set and David Guetta.

Despite having been twice before, I’d seen very little of Glasgow, so I decided to visit again and boarded the hop-on hop-off bus in attempt to cover more ground. I managed to see a lot more of the city this time around, but I still feel like I have yet to get beneath the surface of Glasgow. One thing I was impressed with was the burgeoning restaurant scene; I spent hours searching for restaurant options the night before I visited and was overwhelmed with choice. I’ll definitely be planning more visits to Glasgow in the future for the food alone.

On a sunny Saturday, I ventured out to another part of Edinburgh I’d never seen before: Portobello Beach. It wasn’t exactly tanning weather, but the stretch of golden sand and Victorian-style homes made for a picturesque stroll along the promenade.

Edinburgh Portobello Beach
Dean Village is one of many hidden gems in Edinburgh, and I loved exploring its winding, cobbled streets. It’s a little slice of peace and tranquility only a stone’s throw from bustling Princes Street.

Near the end of the month, I decided to take a spontaneous 5 day trip to Budapest, and used it as an opportunity to finally try Couchsurfing. Apart from a few awkward encounters with my host, I had a great time eating delicious Hungarian food, soaking in thermal baths, marvelling at the gorgeous architecture, and visiting some of the coolest bars I’ve ever seen. Budapest quickly landed a spot on my ‘favourite cities ever’ list.

Things I’ve learned 

Don’t drink and climb. As obvious as it may seem, I’d like to reiterate the fact that drinking wine on an empty stomach at the top of Arthur’s Seat and then attempting to navigate back down is a bad idea.

Couchsurfing confuses me. After some interesting offers, and a few strange experiences with my host in Budapest, I’ve come to question whether or not Couchsurfing has become a travellers version of Tinder. Or is this already a well-known fact, and I’m just out of the loop?

Edinburgh Cockburn Street
What I’ve been eating

Cairngorm Coffee is often said to be one of Edinburgh’s best cafes, and while I can’t vouch for their coffee, I’d highly recommend their cheese toastie: a blend of three cheeses and tangy chilli jam between two slices of fresh sourdough bread. I scarfed it down so quickly I forgot to take a photo, so that should give you an idea of how good it was.

Yeni is a great place to share small plates and sample a variety of food – it offers Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-style meze dishes – each of which cost between £4 and £6, on average. Some dishes were outstanding – namely the smoked paprika seasoned potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and the oven baked eggplant – but others were a bit disappointing. I finished the meal off with a few pieces of Turkish delight and delicious fresh mint tea.

After much deliberation on where to eat in Glasgow, I settled on Babu – an Indian restaurant that serves Bombay-style street food. I tried their spicy dhal and roti, and had one of the best dishes I’ve eaten since arriving in the UK: sev puri. It’s made with wheat puri (crispy, fried puffed bread), boiled potatoes, chaat masala, red onion, three chutneys (tamarind, garlic & red chilli, green chilli and coriander), and topped with crispy lentil vermicelli, fresh coriander, fresh green chilli and lime juice. This dish was an explosion of flavours and textures – spicy, sweet, and tangy with crunchy puri and lentil vermicelli, zesty lime juice and fragrant coriander. It was so delicious.

Babu Kitchen 2

What did you get up to in July?

10 Comments

  • Reply Camille Aug 09 at 6:32 pm

    Wait, there is a beach in Edinburgh? I had no idea! Sounds like you ticked a few things off your Edinburgh list this month, well done! (And yes, Couchsurfing can be pretty hit-and-miss…)

    • Reply ashleywanders Aug 11 at 7:09 am

      I didn’t know Edinburgh had beaches for the longest time, either – but they do exist, ha! And I’m hoping my next Couchsurfing experience will be more of a ‘hit’, then!

  • Reply LC Aug 14 at 10:12 am

    Oh fantastic, I would love to be in Edinburgh right now. Enjoy Fringe!

    • Reply ashleywanders Aug 17 at 6:40 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Loving Fringe so far!

  • Reply Marni Aug 14 at 8:41 pm

    This is awesome! I can’t wait to read your Fringe Festival posts, as I’ll be there next August and can get tips on what not to miss. I have never tried couchsurfing (I’m too wary of it), but from what I understand it seems to be either the best thing you could do or the worst mistake of your whole trip.

    • Reply ashleywanders Aug 17 at 7:33 pm

      I’ll definitely have some Fringe Fest tips coming soon! You picked the best month to visit Edinburgh – there’s so much to do and see here in August! Yeah, my Couchsurfing experience was pretty strange, but I’m hoping for a better experience the next time I try it!

  • Reply Edna Aug 18 at 7:10 am

    Man, sounds like CouchSurfing went downhill. I used to be really active on it 2008-2011 and met some great people I’m still friends with today, but from multiple travel bloggers it sounds like it’s turned into a dating site of some sort, which is depressing!

    • Reply ashleywanders Aug 18 at 9:11 pm

      It is such a shame, and I hate that I never used the site years ago when it was probably better. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with it in the future.

  • Reply Camels & Chocolate Aug 30 at 3:37 pm

    Stoked to find a fellow Scotland lover! I lived in Edinburgh in 2003 and am constantly trying to figure out ways to go back. It’s been three years since my last visit; I’m long overdue…

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 01 at 7:45 pm

      I think you should definitely revisit soon! Hogmanay is always a good excuse to come to Edinburgh 😉

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