Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Winter Wonderland-y

My Skidmore friend Lucy visited Edinburgh this weekend, and the nice thing is that she has been here before - so already has knocked off Arthur's Seat, the Castle, etc. This allowed us to just hang out like we do in any city where one of us is living (usually, that has been New York; Lucy's been in Brooklyn for 4 years). Between a load of school work for me and grad school applications for her, we fit in a lot of down time and a lot of fun. We threw a flat party, for one, and invited nearly everyone we encountered during the party preparation errands (why not?) In the end, it was about ten of my MFA colleagues, some of their friends/boyfriends, the cheesemonger from Victoria Street (from Canada), and our Hungarian neighbors.  


Old friends reunite in Scotland!

We had a great time exploring little neighborhoods on foot, and all bundled up, now that the weather has grown so winter-y. I wanted to see snow - the clouds had that December glow, as if little snowflakes inside were just waiting to fall (no such luck). Stockbridge and Broughton Street are new favorites, very cute and New York-y, something like a smaller, British West Village or  Carroll Gardens, or a street in Boston or Philadelphia, with local bistros, butchers, wine shops, charity stores and cheery couples running here to there. 

Christmas decorations on the Mound


Gorgeous wintry sky

We had a lot of hot drinks.  At this point, Lucy and I could easily call ourselves connoisseurs. Cappucinos, Lattes, Flat Whites (essentially, Australian lattes with less milk, and very tasty), Gingerbread Lattes, tea of all sorts. By far, the best hot drink of the week was the hot mead at the German Market in Princes Street!

A whole stretch of pedestrian walkways is taken over by "German style" food and gift vendors for the month of December. It is really pretty cool - you can purchase a ceramic mug of any number of hot, alcoholic drinks for £5, hang out with everyone else drinking, return your mug, and get £2 returned. There are also rides and winter games like a bouncy snowball contraption and an ice rink. The whole city is beautifully decorated, with lights strung throughout many streets and Christmas trees everywhere you look - they really get into it here. 

Entrance to German Market


Multitude hot drink options. What to choose?

We so enjoyed the hot mead concoction that we actually noted the recipe and made it the staple drink of our Friday night party. Mead, white wine, apple juice, spice sack -- an absolutely perfect winter party drink. 

Another highlight of the weekend was a trip to both Sandy Bell's and the Royal Oak, consecutively. They are folk music pubs/ local institutions for Edinburghers young and old, around for ages, crowded all hours of the day. They are both tiny places, but absolutely packed with spirit and feel so... Scottish. Musicians sit in the corner and keep things lively, with phenomenal fiddle reels, guitar runs, an Irish hand drum keeping the beat almost as much as the foot-tapping of the seriously accomplished, utterly laid-back musicians. I kept thinking how much my parents would like these places, and I felt very much at home because of so many years of band rehearsals in the living room in Glastonbury. 
 

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