WARNING! This blog was not written by the very talented, wordsmith Sinead, no, instead it was written by me, Chris, a person who had already used 5 commas in one sentence. Writing is in no way a skill of mine but I figured I had to give it a try on this particular blog because…. Daniel came to visit!
Of course for those of you who don’t know Daniel only by his first name (or at all) let me give you a brief introduction. Daniel, or Danny for the sake of this blog, is my cousin but in many ways is more like a brother. Daniel and I were born on the same day just hours apart, 17 hours specifically, as Daniel liked to remind me as a kid (he’s older of course). Growing up, the two of us were quite the pair, we’d celebrate most birthdays together, played on the same hockey team for years, and even shared the same barber most of our lives. It goes without saying that Danny and I have been great friends ever since and I was very proud to have him as my best man at our wedding. Okay enough backstory. On to the actual blog.
Daniel came to visit and as you can imagine I was quite excited. Beside my families' trip in February I hadn’t seen anyone from my side for over a year so I was incredibly excited to play host. To help my memory and probably Daniels I have broken his trip down by day, so below is a recap of the 7 days Daniel spent in Scotland.
Daniel arrives! It was a bit surreal seeing him walk through the International Arrivals gate and, as if no time has passed, we simply fell right back into our old budding ways. We had soup and bread back in the flat and then introduced him to bad British television, which in this case was a show called Naked Dating. Anyone interested in knowing more should Google it. That is all I’ll say. We finished the night off with a nice walk around the neighbourhood. It had been so long since Daniel and I had chatted that we were in a need of a good catch up. So we did so, this time on the steps of a Gothic style cathedral. Not too shabby.
The first full day started off with a bang. A hike up Arthur’s Seat. Oh wait! We actually did something else first. In true Chris & Daniel style we got sweet new haircuts via my local barber, because of course we needed to bring a little Edmonton tradition over to Edinburgh. After those haircuts we tackled Arthur’s Seat. I thought a nice morning climb and fantastic 360 views of the city was exactly the way to introduce Edinburgh. However, we quickly found out how out of shape we were, as every 5 minutes we needed to stop to ‘appreciate the views’. After the long walk up and steep climb down the cliff side we were in desperate need for some food and drinks. After a quick stop at Topolabamba for some tacos and beers, and then we were on our way home to rest our tired feet and watch a movie. Later that night we watched GBBO (Great British Bake Off for those of you living under a rock) one of Sinead’s favourite shows and another must see British TV show. Finally, Daniel and I spent a few hours at a local pub, Teuchters, drinking ciders and playing chess, because we’re cool like that.
We started the day with a tour of Whitespace, the creative agency I work for. It was a quick visit but I was able to introduce Daniel to a few colleagues of mine so he could hear the true Scottish accents that I wrestle with understanding on a daily basis. After a quick stop up at the castle for a compulsory picture (we didn’t go in) we were off to the Museum to feel like we did on school trips when we were kids, happily asking “Is that a REAL dinosaur?”. Hours raced by as we ducked into exhibit after exhibit and we soon realized that we needed lunch so we stopped by a firm favourite, Union of Genius, for a big bowl of soup. Then there was a stop at the Meadows, followed by Primark for some quick shopping. For dinner we met Sinead at Bread Meets Bread for some delicious burgers and shakes, and then finished the night off with a highlight of mine, catching a movie at the Filmhouse. This movie though, let me tell you, its a must see. It’s called Hunt for the Wilderpeople, and it is fantastic. Daniel and I could not stop chatting about it on the way home!
As this was Sinead’s first full day with us we thought a nice hearty breakfast at Caffeine Drip was in order. After breakfast we caught the bus out to Portobello for a quick visit to the seaside. As you can tell from the photos it was cloudy and empty but it was still wonderful. Walking along the beach, grabbing doughnuts from Twelve Triangles, and peering into charity shops was a great way to spend an afternoon. For dinner that night we had Sinead’s famous lasagna while watching another British gem, Don’t Tell the Bride. If Daniel was hating all this British television he sure didn’t show it! We capped the night off at Teuchter’s for a couple more beers and a few games of chess.
It was one of those days where the weather couldn’t make up its mind and neither could the 3 of us. It was a mix bag of activities on the itinerary, starting with a farmer’s market visit, then coffee at Noir. After a bit of shopping around town we grabbed lunch at The Dogs. Once lunch was happily gobbled up we did a bit more shopping having some luck in a couple of shops on Princes street before stumbling upon an open park music festival in the Gardens. Sadly it was sold out, but we rejoiced in hearing some bass heavy electronic music as we walked by. In the evening, Daniel and I headed out to find another pub further away. We ended up at The Advocate where we once again lost track of the hours as we sipped away on drinks. The late night pub chats were quite the staple of the 7 days.
It was finally Sunday, one of Sinead and my favourite days in Edinburgh, but sadly it also meant Daniel’s trip was coming to an end. After a delicious bowl of porridge made by Sinead we headed down to Dean Park Gardens on our way to Stockbridge market. It’s amazing how the atmosphere of the city changes when you enter into the gardens. Busy streets and the smells of city living are replaced with greenery and rushing water. It was one of the places I was most looking forward to taking Daniel. The weather once again was a bit up and down so we decided to nip into a local chocolate shop before heading to Artisan Roast for a nice lunch. As no visit would be complete without checking out the Portrait Gallery, Sinead’s favourite space in the city, we headed there next. We didn’t stay long but we did partake in some interactive art where Daniel and I sketched out some self-portraits. Mine came out a little sad and heavy while Daniel’s came out a little David Bowie. For dinner it was Sunday roast in a Scottish Pub. Mmm Yorkshire puddings…Daniel and I decided to forgo a trip to Teuchters that evening, opting instead for finer beers and a movie at home.
This was Daniels final full day in Edinburgh. With Sinead back at work we decided to head out to North Berwick, a sea side town, to take in a bit more Scottish sea air. But before we headed off to the beach we stopped by Calton Hill for another quick 360 view of Edinburgh. There are so many picturesque views in this city, it's really quite amazing. Travelling by train and stocked with M&S goodies, we then made our way to North Berwick, and I have to say this was another big highlight for me. As Daniel and I climbed the rocks to the edge of the coastline we munched on sandwiches and chips and drank ginger beers, all while looking out at the sea. It was a really special moment where we both sat in amazement at the fact that two guys from Edmonton were currently sitting by the sea in Scotland. When the rain trickled in and we realized the trains only came once an hour, Daniel and I headed back up the beach and back into Edinburgh. For the final dinner we ordered take-out pizza from Dough then Daniel, Sinead and I headed back to Teuchters for a final toast. To cap the evening off Daniel and I played a couple of games of chess (I won both games but who’s counting), watched a terrible movie, and enjoyed each others company. The next morning we were all up at the crack o’ dawn to say our goodbyes. A couple weeks later and I am still thinking about my cousins visit. It was such a pleasure to spend so much quality time together and I wish it could have been longer. That being said, I couldn’t have asked for a better week and I am very much looking forward to visiting in December for another game of chess over some pints of cider.