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Expat in Edinburgh: Month 4

Sep 19

Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens CarouselWhat is it about the beginning of September that feels so significant in comparison to most other months? Maybe because it signifies the end of summer – my favourite time of year – and with it comes change: a change of seasons, a transition into cooler weather, and before you know it, Christmas (dear God, Christmas!) I know I’m getting ahead of myself, so I’ll focus on recapping August instead.

Edinburgh Royal Mile
What I’ve been up to

Simply put, August was hectic. I know I say this every month, but I feel like time has been absolutely flying since I arrived in the UK, and never was this more true than in August. I wasn’t working during the first two weeks of the month, so I spent majority of that time trying to make the most of the Fringe Festival. I was ridiculously excited for the Fringe Fest; I spent so much time just wandering around the city, gawking at the crowds and street performers, and frequented the pop-up street food and drink venues. I went a bit wild trying to see as many shows as possible – sometimes a few in one day – and enjoyed the city’s extra raucous nightlife.

I saw around a dozen or so shows throughout the month, and managed to see a bit of everything – dancers, comedians, physical theatre, puppetry, singers – but I still feel like I missed out on so many fantastic performances. Roughly 3,000 shows take place here throughout the month, so it was slightly overwhelming trying to decide to what to see.

Apart from the painful task of trying to decide which shows to see, I loved the Fringe Festival – it’s so much fun, and August in Edinburgh is absolute madness. Take a stroll anywhere along or near the Royal Mile, and you’ll see anything from ladyboys to men wearing wedding dresses, to zombies and sword swallowers. Oftentimes just walking around the city was an experience in itself, and the constant stimulation and free entertainment was amazing – there’s so much to see and do here during the festival. If you haven’t experienced the Fringe Fest, you should probably cancel any plans and/or commitments in August 2016 and get yourself to Edinburgh!

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Royal Mile Edinburgh Fringe Festival Royal Mile 6
I managed to slip away from the insanity that is the Fringe Festival for a long weekend, and took a road trip to the Isle of Mull. I had such a fantastic time on this lovely little isle; I ate incredibly fresh, locally sourced food, revelled in the natural surroundings and serenity, and caught up with a few friends who I hadn’t seen in years.

I bagged my second Munro on Mull: Ben More. Although it was slightly smaller than the first Munro I climbed, this one was much more steep and rocky, and just more brutal all-around. I was really hoping to conquer Ben Nevis this year, but climbing Ben More made me realize I should probably attempt a few more smaller Munros first. And also stop eating so many macaroni pies, perhaps.

I attended a performance of the Royal Military Tattoo: an annual spectacle with hundreds of local and international musicians, drummers, pipers, dancers and singers performing at the esplanade of the castle. After an evening of impressive entertainment, the Tattoo ends with a mass sing-a-long of Auld Lang Syneand a fireworks display over the castle. Definitely worth the high-priced entry fee to experience it once.

Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo 2
What I’ve been eating

Zomato – a restaurant search and discovery site –  hosts awesome foodie meetups in different cities around the world, and I was lucky enough to be invited to one at The Observatory at the Glasshouse Hotel. It was an evening filled with lovely people, tasty cocktails, and samples of various dishes in the form of gourmet canapés. The crab and tomato soup and tender cod served on a spring onion slice were the standout dishes of the evening, and I definitely want to return to try the full versions. The menu is simple, Scottish cuisine with a contemporary twist, and I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fine dining restaurant in the city centre.

(PS, do any of my fellow foodies out there use Zomato? If not, get on it! It’s so much more than just food photos, restaurant reviews, and up-to-date menu information –  you can also follow and interact with fellow users, and keep track of their latest reviews via a newsfeed-style page. Plus it has so many cool features – like the collections, which are themed lists (i.e. ‘gluten-free’, ‘hidden gems’) curated to whichever city you are searching. I’ve discovered so many great restaurants in Edinburgh thanks to this website!)

I finally made it to Mosque Kitchen – an institution in Edinburgh for cheap and authentic Indian food. It’s a no-frills style restaurant, with communal seating, paper plates, and plastic cutlery – but the food is delicious and you can have a full meal for around £5.

I ventured to Glasgow twice this month to see a few concerts, but the highlight of both visits was the meal I had at Hanoi Bike Shop. The rice paper rolls and banh mi sandwich were both delicious, and their food is some of the best Vietnamese I’ve had since arriving in the UK. Although, Edinburgh has approximately three Vietnamese restaurants, so I haven’t really had much Vietnamese food in the past few months, sadly. Regardless, I’m hoping the owners decide to open a second Hanoi Bike Shop in Edinburgh to help keep my Vietnamese food obsession in check.

Glasgow Hanoi Bike Shop 3

How was your August? Have you been to the Fringe Festival?

10 Comments

  • Reply Justine Sep 20 at 9:04 am

    The Fringe Festival sounds like it was a blast. I’d never even heard of it before! Also, I’ve never used Zomato. Clearly I need to check it out. Thanks for the tip 🙂

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 23 at 6:41 pm

      The Fringe Fest is a riot! And no problem – Zomato is awesome 🙂

  • Reply Marni Sep 21 at 4:13 pm

    I’ve never used zomato, but it sounds like an excellent idea – particularly for when visiting a foreign city. I’ll definitely have to give it a try. Btw, that carousel picture is gorgeous. Did you ride it?

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 23 at 6:49 pm

      Yeah, Zomato is great for finding restaurants in foreign cities! I’ve mainly been using it to search in Glasgow and Edinburgh, but I’ll definitely use it the next time I travel as well! And thank you! I didn’t ride it – just stood in front of it for a long time and took an obnoxious amount of photos 😉

  • Reply Julie Sep 24 at 10:37 am

    I have some friends who went up to Fringe this year and came back so tired and so hungover. I bet that’s how most people experience it so I’m sure your ‘local-ness’ meant taking better care of yourself and trying not to hate the hoards of tourists!

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 26 at 3:14 pm

      The Fringe still left me quite tired and hungover at times, but I’m sure it would have been much worse if I wasn’t living here! The influx of tourists didn’t bother me too much, surprisingly! I love how energetic and lively the city felt in August.

  • Reply Amanda - Lesson Plans & Layovers Sep 25 at 12:54 am

    I thought the Fringe Festival was neat to see! We also took in a night at the Royal Military Tattoo, which was a nice way to end our trip 🙂 Glad to hear you also enjoyed it!

    • Reply ashleywanders Sep 26 at 3:16 pm

      So many people said the Tattoo was just an over-priced touristy event, which I guess it is in a sense, but I was really impressed with all the performances! So glad I went!

  • Reply Emily S Oct 09 at 3:54 am

    Not hard to do, but this post makes me want to move to Edinburg. Or anywhere outside the US really. One day I’ll make it somewhere, but for now I’ll just live vicariously through my sister’s travels (she’s been in Goa for almost a year).

    https://eemmllee.wordpress.com/2015/10/08/4-reasons-for-loving-life-abroad/

    Also I am going to check out Zomato… sometimes Yelp is just too much for me.

    • Reply ashleywanders Oct 09 at 7:36 pm

      Ahh I love Goa, so I might have to live vicariously through your sister as well 🙂 And definitely check out Zomato – I find it much easier to navigate, and much more helpful than TripAdvisor or Yelp!

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