Today an interview with Sophie Cameron Spotter for our Edinburgh cityblog.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m originally from the Highlands but I’ve lived in Edinburgh on and off for six years now. I’ve just finished a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature, and now I’m working as a freelance journalist and tutoring French and Spanish while I try to decide what to do with my life!
Edinburgh’s a great place to visit because there’s lots to do and see, especially if you come in summer when the Festival is on and the weather is (slightly) better. It’s great if you’re into arts and culture as there are tons of good cinemas, theatres, quite a lot of literary events and so on. As it’s a student city (there are four unis and a few big colleges here), it has a pretty lively nightlife even if there’s not a great deal of variety. There are some great bars and really nice restaurants, and you don’t always need to spend a lot to have a nice meal.
Edinburgh has the reputation for being expensive but, like most cities, it doesn’t have to be – you just have to avoid tourist traps and choose where you go carefully. I like living here because it’s a great size – it’s big enough to keep you entertained, it’s really international and it has most of the advantages of other capitals, but it’s also small enough that you can get to know it really well, plus it’s generally really safe. Also it looks really beautiful – the architecture is amazing and really detailed, I’m still noticing new things after 6 years here.
What is a must visit and what not?
If you come to Edinburgh, make sure you go up Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill for the views, and get out of the city centre and go to areas like the Shore down at Leith (there are great restaurants and bars there and it’s really pretty at night) or Morningside for cute cafes and shops. If you want to go out, I’d opt for the Grassmarket then Cab Vol or the Hive rather than George Street – the clubs there are bland, expensive and snobby.
Image by Sophie Cameron
Personally I don’t think the Castle warrants its £10 entry free, but a lot of the other tourist attractions are worth the money. Go on a Ghost Tour, or if you’re with kids take them to Dynamic Earth or the newly-opened Museums of Scotland on Chambers Street.
Most of all, I’d definitely recommend walking around – the layout of the city is very intricate, so you’ll miss so tons if you take a tour bus.
What do you know about Edinburgh what no tourist will know?
If you get chips in Edinburgh they’ll ask you if you want salt and sauce – the ‘sauce’ is a weird mix of vinegar and brown sauce that they don’t seem to sell anywhere except Edinburgh. Personally I’m not a fan, but it’s really popular.
Don’t step on the Heart of Midlothian sign in the road outside St Giles’ Cathedral on the Royal Mile – people spit on it for good luck so it is covered in saliva. Gross.
Also here are a few bits of Edinburgh slang that greatly confused me when I first moved here: ‘barry’ means great and to ‘chum’ someone means to accompany them somewhere.
What is the most popular neighborhood to live in Edinburgh at this moment?
I’m maybe biased because I live there, but Stockbridge is really nice and seems to be becoming more popular. There are lots of nice shops and cafes, and it feels more like being in a small town than a city. It’s really close to the Botanical Gardens and the Water of Leith, plus the Dean Gallery and Dean Village which has some really nice Tudor-style buildings along the river.
There aren’t any clubs in Stockbridge so it’s nice and quiet at night, but there are lots of cute bars around if you want to go out for drinks. Plus, it’s only fifteen or twenty minutes away from the city centre so you can walk home, and it’s really safe.
Can you describe a perfect day in your city?
I would start my day with brunch at Sygn, then, as the perfect day would obviously be a sunny one, I’d go for a wee wander along the Water of Leith and back into Stockbridge for a browse around the charity shops.
I’d probably buy a ton of books in Oxfam, and I’d get macarons from Patisserie Madeline or cupcakes from Bibi’s Cake Boutique and have a mini picnic up at Calton Hill.
At night I’d go and see a film at the Dominion, then out for cocktails at Monteith’s. If I was in the mood I’d go out to Bongo Club afterwards, but realistically I’d probably be too knackered after all that walking!
Check out all Sophie Cameron’s articles and the other interviews with our Spotters.