The Mountains of Instead

Championing fiction as an escape from pandemics, politics and bad TV.

Duelling Blog Posts: Glasgow vs Edinburgh part 2

Following Fraser's eloquent ode to all things Glasgow, here's my response.  Not quite so eloquent but just as winning...

Fraser has made some winning points about Glasgow, in fact for a short minute I was rather baffled and had no idea how to respond.  But then my brains returned and I remembered that for all Glasgow's music scene and it's alleged patter, Edinburgh just can't be beat. Why?  It's easy!

It's fair bonnie
When it comes to looks, Edinburgh beats Glasgow hands down.  It is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and takes my breath away everytime I walk it's streets.  In the words of Alexander McCall Smith, “This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas.  A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”   
Built on seven hills (which are not as onerous as Fraser would have you believe) the city skyline is dominated by Edinburgh Castle and Arthur's Seat.  The former is a formidable fortress, the latter an ancient volcanic plug that rises high about the city, stretching out to an impressive craggy outlook - both make for an impressive vista.  Spiralling around the castle spreads the city’s Old Town, cobbled streets and tiny passageways leading to magical courtyards and hidden bars and restaurants.  To the north, the New Town awaits in all it's pillared splendour, run through by the leafy Water of Leith and home to all manner of gardens, waterside drinking holes as well as the beautiful Botanical gardens.

The atmosphere
Yes, yes, we all know about Glasgwegian's and their friendliness - it's legendary and it's also mainly true but I've never personally foundGlasgow to be any friendlier thanEdinburgh.  In fact, it can be quite intimidating and in your face. Edinburgh prefers to befriend you slowly, with better manners, building a friendship that's stronger and just... means more.  While Glasgow is populated largely by, er, Glasgwegians, Edinburgh is a truly cosmopolitan city.  It's drawn people to it's streets from all over the world and while Glasgow feels mainly of Scotland,Edinburgh combines Scottish roots with world ambience - and a better combination cannot be found.  In the words of great luminary, Justin Timberlake, “you don’t get nicer than you people”.  So there.

The people, the history
Edinburgh has birthed and housed some pretty impressive faces.  Inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell; pioneer of anaesthesia, James Simpson; Edinburgh University alumni, Charles Darwin. This being a book blog, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention some of the many authors who've lived and worked in the city: Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Rankin, Alexander McCall Smith, Kate Atkinson, Cat Clarke, Kenneth Grahame, Murial Spark.... I could go on - Edinburgh is a book lover's paradise.  In addition to the people, Edinburgh boasts a fascinating history, a seedy underbelly to its pretty, modern-day facade: body snatchers, haunted vaults, plague pits and sealed, underground houses are all part of the city's murky past and add a delightful chill to its present.  Edinburgh is a World Heritage site and will soon be a World Literary City.  It's not hard to see why.

The Festivals

If nothing else, Edinburgh knows how to put on a good show.  Initially, Edinburgh only had it's International Festival - a few weeks of gorgeous music and stunning art.  Impressive, but almost trifling when you look at what has grown up around those few weeks.  Visit the city in late summer and you can enjoy the Book Festival, the Jazz Festival, the Film Festival and vitally the Fringe.  The Fringe is primarily a comedy festival that attracts names both big and small to the city for a few crazy weeks.  Ricky Gervais?  See him here.  Billy Connolly?  No problem.  Oh, and all those Glasgwegian comedians that Fraser mentioned?  You SHOULD check them out.  At the Edinburgh Fringe.  They may all come from Glasgow, but they perform in Edinburgh.  And the festivals aren't limited to just August.  Nope, pop by in December and enjoy a winter wonderland of twinkle lights, ice rinks, torch lit processions and mulled wine at sparkling Christmas markets - and that's all before you take part in Edinburgh's world famous Hogmanay celebrations.  You've not celebrated New Year until you've spent it inEdinburgh, watching fireworks light the sky from every one of the city's seven hills.

Harry Potter
Harry and beer?  Don't get THAT
in Glasgow
I have walked the hallowed halls of Hogwarts and explored the streets of Hogsmeade - it's true.  How, I hear you ask? Because I have lived inEdinburgh.  JK Rowling famously wrote her first Harry Potter book while living inEdinburgh and it's impossible to walk through the city's old town without being aware of how the city inspired her.  In fact, she still owns a home in the city now and finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the gorgous Balmoral Hotel before defacing a bust (which is still there and available for you to see, should you have the pennies to stay there).  Edinburgh Castle is an easy match for Harry's home and the vennels, closes and colourful facades of the nearby streets speak strongly of his wizarding world.  So, Edinburgh Castle is Hogwarts and the Old Town is Hogsmeade: Fact.

And on that note, I rest my case.  There are a million other things that sell Edinburgh as Scotland’s top city – the weather (sun shines more, rain pours less),  chippie sauce (completely delicious, secret recipe, better than vinegar on your chips), dark chocolate hob nobs (impossible to get in Glasgow, just ask Aura), a Christmas shop that is open ALL YEAR and more and more and more.   JK Rowling actually still lives inEdinburgh.  It stole her heart as it stole mine and as it will surely steal yours and it will do all of this without drunkenly telling you it’s life story over unsauced chips.   Beyonce referred to it as a “classy city” and you know, she knows what she’s talking about.

So, have we made up YOUR minds?  Please comment and let us know.  Alternately, drop in to speak with both of us on Twitter tonight where I will be hosting Ask A Real Scotsman at 9pm GMT and 4pm EST.  Fraser will be that Scotsman.  Sign in to the TweetChat room or use the hashtag #realscotsman to take part.  


Cat Clarke said…
Edinburgh FTW. Not biased at all.
Heather said…
Mostly good points, but you can get dark chocolate hobnobs at any Tesco in Glasgow! At least you could last year when I sadly had to leave there.
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