Why I love Edinburgh - By Laura Cameron Lewis

Why I love Edinburgh, by Laura Cameron Lewis

The artist, producer and singer walks you through her favourite Edinburgh haunts

Edinburgh is a city of contradictions. An international, cosmopolitan hub, it is also known to its long-time residents as Village Edinburgh. Its vertical architecture reveals the depth of the city’s history and intellectual propriety and yet, on the horizontal, on the ground, there are places to be discovered in which the new and the unexpected can flourish.

A walkable city, it’s only ever a short amble or a bus ride to green spaces, hill walks such as Arthur’s Seat or the Pentlands, or beautiful beaches such at Seton Sands, Portobello, or the fantastic cross-causeway destination of Cramond Island in the middle of the River Forth. It’s best to discover Edinburgh as you would Venice, and throw away your map. Stumbling across hidden wynds and staircases you will develop your own personal experience of its geography, the tried-and-tested method of getting to grips with a city built on three levels.

In the Old Town and Southside, try the upmarket chic of Outsider on George IV Bridge and the groovy mid-century furnished tearoom of Spoon on Nicolson Street: these are great, independent eateries with soul. For cheap, wholesome food, the Mosque Kitchen is a classic, and Red Box Noodle Bar is a good new addition.

Outside of studentville I mostly recommend the free state of Leith for the excellent Roseleaf, King’s Wark and, of course, the Swedish bars Sofi’s, Boda and Joseph Pearce's.

Edinburgh is world renowned as a cultural city, the festival city, yet year-round it offers an excellent programme of arts and grassroots activity. There are live music gigs at large venues such as the Queen’s Hall and the Picture House or, for more intimate experiences, Sneaky Pete’s (cutting-edge), Electric Circus (also with freekadelic karaoke booths) and for the next few months at least, the LEGENDARY Bongo Club. (Save Bongo! Edinburgh Uni students, get on to your estates dept.) And for all your vinyl or music-making needs, there’s Avalanche or Red Dog Music on the Grassmarket. For independent fashion look no farther than Totty Rocks or Godiva boutiques. For theatre there’s the long-established Traverse, Lyceum, and the newly minted Village Pub Theatre in Leith. If spoken-word or new cabaret pique your interest, check out Neu! Reekie!, Blind Poetics, Rally and Broad.

Since arriving as a student in 1995, I’ve made friends in the festivals, in bars, in the vibrant grassroots arts and music scenes, and in the colleges and universities. I’m lucky to know people from all over the world who continue to drift in and out of Village Edinburgh because this city is, at once, so diverse and so full of new experiences. It’s always guaranteed that you’ll bump into someone you know.

Laura is director of the (g)Host City Virtual Festival, downloadable performances for hidden spaces in Edinburgh, virtualfestival.org; she also sings with Swimmer One, swimmerone.co.uk


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