Thursday

Eyewitness Edinburgh in Scotland: Steven from Finding a Neish

One of my shock and horror moments was when I asked a fellow travel blogger whether he is interested in doing something together against racism. I naively assumed that we as frequent travellers can tell stories that show the world that love is so much better than hate. The reaction was as sobering as it was sad “Sounds good, but I don’t want to lose out on assignments. I would rather not be involved …”.

Speechless. I have strong moral principles and no freebie, be it in form of a glass of sparkling wine or even a massive piece of cream-cake, can change that.

In Steven, the face behind the blog Finding a Neish, I found someone who shares my views. I admire in him that he obviously hasn't sold his soul and isn't afraid to speak out. I knew Steven from talking about travelling but my interest in him grew as I heard his opinion about Brexit.
He voted remain. I asked him and have permission to quote.

“I have always had an inherent distrust of nationalism — whether patriotic or xenophobic in spirit I cannot abide people who indulge in ethnocentrism — and have always thought the very concept of independence to be nationalistic in the extreme. It’s certainly isolationist, and in this day and age it seems counter-intuitive and backward-thinking to erect new borders or reinforce old ones when, given the inevitably global effects of globalisation, the boundaries that already exist are appearing more arbitrary by the day. Nationalism too is beginning to look risible and grotesque — just look at Donald Trump or Nigel Farage — but all it takes is one small about-turn and public perception could change.”

Read Steven’s full article Brexit. 5 Reasons I’m Votingto Remain.  

Steven at the Edinburgh International Film Festival

The Touristin: Three words that characterise Edinburgh?

Steven: Historic, handsome, hilly.

The Touristin: How do you get around Edinburgh?

Steven: I prefer to explore Edinburgh on foot; striding up its cobbled streets and down its sequestered closes; strolling over its seven hills and under its ghostly bridges.

The Touristin: What is the best kept secret about Edinburgh?

Steven: Arthur's Seat may loom large over Edinburgh's Old Town, but it's by no means the city's only hill-walking destination. Further to the south-east but still accessible via local bus links lies the Pentland Hills, a sprawling range of hills that run all the way to Biggar and Upper Clydesdale twenty miles to the south. The highest peak, Scald Law, makes for a beguiling if rather bracing climb.

The Touristin: What is your favourite borough/suburb/area in Edinburgh and why?

Steven: For visitors keen to get off the beaten track Edinburgh is full of interesting and inspiring suburbs just begging to be explored -- from Stockbridge to Morningside; Haymarket to Holyrood - but the Old Town draws the crowds for good reason. The Royal Mile is one of the most storied streets in the world, and while Edinburgh Castle is for many the final destination there is always plenty to see and do en route - especially during the Edinburgh Fringe.

The Touristin: The best place for a hot chocolate or coffee in Edinburgh?

Steven: Let's face it: as Scotland's capital city Edinburgh can often be bitterly cold. For those in need of respite, the best hot chocolate, coffee, or indeed mocha in town can be found at 5 Howard Street. At CORO you can choose between white, milk and dark hot chocolate, and - if the numbness persists - eek out some extra warmth by experimenting with various spices.

The Touristin: What is one restaurant we must try out while in Edinburgh?

Steven: Edinburgh is full of excellent bars, bistros and gastro pubs, from the best national and international chains to independent restaurants and iconic cafés; but for my money the most memorable dining experience is to be found at Ghillie Dhu. Deftly walking the line between authenticity and commerciality, this Scottish-themed restaurant offers patrons the opportunity to eat haggis, neeps and tatties in the attractive and atmospheric surrounds of a grand Georgian hall - with the option of ceilidhs and cranachan for afters!

The Touristin: Where would we meet you on weekends?

Steven: A walker at heart I can often be found wandering aimlessly through the city's streets, from Union Canal to Calton Hill to the Royal Botanic Garden. I will always, however, wind up at The Filmhouse on Lothian Road. I have been attending Edinburgh International Film Festival there for five summers now, but always enjoy whiling away a rainy day or dark evening in any of its three screens or over a plate of nachos in its lively bar.

The Touristin: Do you have a favourite museum/gallery we all have to visit when in Edinburgh?

Steven: Edinburgh is full of fascinating museums and fabulous galleries, but few compare to the grandeur and spectacle of the National Museum of Scotland. Housed within its collection is Dolly the sheep, of cloning fame, and The Maiden, an early form of guillotine; but just as impressive as the exhibitions are the halls in which they are exhibited. Inspired by The Crystal Palace of 1851, the cast-iron Grand Gallery is as stunning a setting as you could reasonably conceive. With ten new galleries having recently opened in celebration of the museum's 150th year, there is now more to see than ever before.

The Touristin: What are some of your favourite places to shop for A) groceries and B) clothes?

Steven: Although well stocked with supermarkets, there are plenty of alternative places in Edinburgh to buy your groceries - or messages, as they are colloquially known in Scotland. Edinburgh Farmer's Market and the Grassmarket Weekly Market both run on weekends throughout the year, while the Christmas market is always a hub of activity almost from the moment it launches in late November. As for clothes, Ocean Terminal offers a markedly quieter shopping experience away from the crowds and congestion of Princes Street - with the option of a tour of The Royal Yacht Britannia between sprees.

The Touristin: What souvenir shall we bring back from Edinburgh?

Steven: In Edinburgh, as in any souvenir shop in Scotland, visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to plush Nessies and tartan trews. One word of warning, however: when it comes to Scottish foodstuffs a stick of Edinburgh rock travels a lot better than a deep-fried Mars bar.

The Touristin: Thank you so very much Steven, can’t wait to visit all these places you mentioned. Talk to you soon.

Visit Steven on Finding a Neish or meet him on Twitter @findinganeish. Meet more eyewitnesses from all over the world.


From Berlin with love

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Greetings stranger. I always try to be myself and to be a tourist as often as I can. I would love to get in contact with lots of hard travelling tourists who love to be out and about as much as I do. I am looking forward to all your comments. Thanks so much in advance.