Exploring Edinburgh through “Weegie” Tinted Glasses

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Our final City-Swapper is the man between men's lifestyle blog The Middle Aged Man. We sent Weegie Robbie and friend John east for a day of culture and culinary delights...

As a born and bred West Coaster who lives and works in Glasgow I have to admit that I rarely venture through to Edinburgh despite the fact that there is less than an hour between both Cities.

When ScotRail got in touch to enquire whether I would like to take part in their #GreatCitySwap I took them up on it, as it gave me the perfect opportunity to explore parts of Edinburgh that I barely even knew existed (I know my bad). For ideas and an insight into some of the best places to visit in each city look no further than the Swapportunities section on ScotRail’s website.

On a dreich Friday the 13th myself and my good friend John headed to Glasgow Queen St station in order to start out journey to Edinburgh which for an off-peak return of only £12.70 can see us Glaswegians head to Edinburgh or vice versa for a cost-effective day out to two cosmopolitan cities with many differences but also some strong similarities.

Upon disembarking at Edinburgh Haymarket Station, we mulled over our options of what modes of transport to take for our day of exploration. Available from Haymarket station is the Bike and Go scheme which means anyone can effectively step off the train, hire a bike for a minimal fee and explore the city whilst also remaining active and unlike Glasgow, Edinburgh has a tram system which spans 9 miles throughout the city which is a cost-effective method of travel and less congested than traditional bus and car travel. We decided that although the weather wasn’t great we would walk to all of the locations we had chosen to discover on our #GreatCitySwap.

First up, and only a mere 15 - 20 minute walk from Haymarket we headed for the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), in order to explore and compare the differences between the GOMA’s in both Cities. The first major difference is that Glasgow’s is set in the heart of the bustling city centre and Edinburgh’s rather is rather cutely found in expansive grounds a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the shopping areas. Split over two buildings there is so much to see and do for all members of the family whether the magnificent galleries are to your taste, or the tea, coffee’s and cake in the café are your main attraction. On a nice day the draw of a picnic in immaculately kept gardens would be hard to resist, with the knowledge that if you had children, they could play freely while you dined on the fayre of the day and perhaps a glass of the bubbly stuff.

From GOMA we headed off to Dean Village, and I will admit I had never heard of Dean Village until around 2 weeks ago when I was researching my trip. Found only a 10-minute walk away from GOMA, Dean Village is in my view a hidden gem within Edinburgh. Found on the banks of the Water of Leith, you get the feeling upon walking into Dean Village, that you are no longer in a City, but a rather quaint outlying village. The architecture dates back to the 1880’s and is in complete contrast to the rest of Edinburgh. In my book this is one of the most picturesque places in either Edinburgh or my home City of Glasgow.

After a morning of taking in some of the great galleries and sights Edinburgh has to offer it was time for us to wander another 10 minutes for a well-deserved energiser in the form of some food and drink from The Caffeine Drip, a South African Café and Bakery which can be found a stone’s throw away from the organised chaos of Princes Street. To my knowledge I am not aware of a South African Café in Glasgow so I was intrigued to see what was on offer. Meat-Eaters, Vegetarians and Vegans of all ages can all rejoice as everyone is catered for on both the food and drink front. From coffee & tea, to homemade cakes, rustic sandwiches or main meals there certainly is something for everyone.

After a filling but delicious cake and hot chocolate, we headed off to wander around some more of Edinburgh just casually taking in the sights (including the castle of course) and letting our food settle before heading for a late lunch. The dining scene in Edinburgh in comparison to Glasgow is more fine dining compared to the street food vibes in Glasgow. Don’t get me wrong we do have fine dining restaurants and great eateries, but Edinburgh is the place with the most Michelin Stars in Scotland, with us poor Glaswegians currently not having any.

For our final stop of the day, on a little lane just off George Street we headed to Café St Honore, which is like a little piece of Paris with a twist, hiding in central Edinburgh. The décor leads you to believe you are to be served the finest French delicacies but upon opening the menu you find that the produce is all Scottish, cooked in a traditional French style. Featuring on the Michelin Guide the food standard is extremely high but the prices extremely reasonable. The menu changes day on day, so no matter what, you won’t ever find yourself getting bored of the choices.

With our bellies stuffed to the gunnels and the rain getting heavier the time had come to end our little daycation, which opened my eyes in a lot of ways to what Edinburgh has to offer aside from the hustle and bustle of the busy shopping streets. Glasgow and Edinburgh are subtly different but both great in their own unique ways. Whether you are a Family, Couple, Single Pringle or group of friends, it’s time to book that train ticket and commence your very own #GreatCitySwap.

Robbie is a men's lifestyle blogger based in Glasgow. Check out his blog The Middle Aged Man and follow him on Instagram and Twitter.

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