We live in the crater of a volcano. Really.
Supposedly it is an extinct volcano but are volcanoes ever really extinct?
Thomas Jefferson said that Edinburgh is a city “that no place in the world can pretend to equal.” On the southern shore of the Firth of Forth where the estuary meets the North Sea, Edinburgh sits on seven hills.
Castle rock is actually a volcanic plug at a such height that you can use it to get your bearings almost anywhere you are in the city.
Only 500,000 people live here but there are many more than that here all the time - university students, world financial leaders, members of the Scottish parliament, and tourists. Oh, and people like us who wish the British government would let us live here full-time but must pass through as occasional ex.-pats when we can work it out. The crowds, the accomplishments, the historical significance, the cultural maelstrom - books, comedy, plays, music, lectures - belie Edinburgh’s relatively small size. It is a place like no other on earth and its influence can be felt around the world.
And fortunately not because the volcano is erupting.
As I walked around the city with David on Saturday afternoon I kept having a “pinch me, I really live here” experience again and again.
It started as we walked out our front door. I looked down the street to the left.
As we walked up the Hill past the beautiful Georgian Houses that line the streets of Calton Terrace and London Road Gardens,
But geologists can trace the development of rock formations all around the city and pinpoint specific marks where the cone erupted. Often, when you look down at where you are walking it is obvious that it is volcanic rock beneath your feet. Hardened lava.
Holyroodhouse - Queen of Scotland's official residence
Our Dynamic Earth
The new Scottish Parliament Building
Easter Rd Stadium - about 3 blocks from our flat - Go Hibs!
And just below you can see the beautiful streets of the city.
Looking down Princes Street
On top of the Hill there is an unfinished replica of the Parthenon called the Monument. Begun during Edinburgh’s Age of Enlightenment construction was halted due to lack of funds.
Also, up on the Hill are the original Scottish Observatory, a monument to Lord Nelson and the city’s first park.
It is a steep climb but well worth the aching calves that result.
We walked up the side nearest our flat and then down on the other side ending on Princes Street.
The Scottish National Archives with Wellington on Horseback standing guardA few blocks further on we crossed the North Bridge to the center of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s most famous street.
North BridgeThe street was crowded with tourists even on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon as we walked down the mile to the tea shop.
No seats and a long wait - so we turned and walked back up the Mile, passing pub after pub with barely room for standing and eventually found a seat in Deacon Brodies, one of the oldest pubs in town.
It's always 5 o'clock in an Edinburgh pub!
After we had thawed out a bit over a pint, we walked around the corner and up the stairs for a light supper. Bundled up again we decided to make the walk back across town to our flat rather than stand in the biting wind and wait for the bus. We walked back across the bridge as darkness fell.
The amazing full moon was so low and large in the sky that it looked like you could reach out and touch it.
And it seemed to follow us home reappearing around every corner.
Our teeth were chattering so we stopped about half-way to warm up a bit in the Theatre Bar and while I watched all the people who had popped in for a drink before the evening performance David has a swift pint.
Bundled up again we walked the remaining blocks down London Road in the moonlight under the Shadow of Calton Hill where just hours before we had stood looking down.