Expat To Expat: August/September

Clarendon Crescent

I just discovered Expat to Expat from My Life In Scotland so I’m linking up with a couple other expats for the months of August and September. I’ll be doing these monthly to be able to give you a little more insight into my “expat” life.

What is your favourite food store?
I don’t go there often (and it’s more expensive) but I love going to Waitrose! The store is always clean and the food packaging is beautiful and they have everything – food wise. But I get my groceries delivered from Tesco and my veggies and eggs from East Coast Organics.

Is it OK to buy store brand items or do you pay more for name brand?
I haven’t had any issues with store brands (from either Waitrose or Tesco) so I tend to just stick with them.

What is the best way to go around my city?
Edinburgh is really “walkable” and the buses are amazing here. I’d love to say it’s easy to ride my bike but it’s really hilly… need I say more?
Also, Edinburgh’s new “shame” are the Tramworks and apparently they’re scheduled to be up and running by May 2014. I think they’re intended to make City Centre more accessible to those who live outside of the centre so we’ll see how it all ends up.

Where is the best place to get a cup of coffee {or beverage you prefer} and catch up with friends?
For all of you coffee lovers I hear Artisan Roast and Brew Lab are the places to go. But, for me and my tea-loving-self, I love going to Lovecrumbs and Loudon’s. Loudon’s is close by and clean and their massive windows allow for a lot of natural light in (and in a city where we get an average of 50 sunny days a year, that’s really important). Lovecrumbs is, well, bliss. I get really excited when I go to Lovecrumbs because of their cakes! They get their tea from Anteaques and make their own homemade cakes and desserts every morning. And what’s tea without a delicious cake to accompany it?

What was your eureka, “I’m practically a native” moment?
Anytime someone asks me for directions (and I actually know how to get them there) is a little victory for me. It makes me feel like I look like I know my way around this city (little do they know… just kidding!). As well as any time I look right first before crossing the street. It’s the little things.

Does your accent get in the way?
Well, I don’t think it does but I spend a lot of time on the phone at work and so that has caused more problem on my end than theirs. If I say the word , “Scottish”, people tend to understand me better when I pronounce it “Sco-ish” with a slight accent.
But, you have go to check this video out about weird Scottish words! I’ve heard (and seen) a lot of these in action.

How do you fit into your new culture without losing some of your identity?
There have been some moments where I feel like maybe I was a bit abrasive in my comments or intrusive in my questions but that’s just me. I have that problem anywhere I go with anyone I meet. I do feel that I’ve been pretty fortunate to have made some friends that don’t laugh at my questions about how to “properly” serve tea and how to say certain words or how in God’s beautiful earth do you turn on an old gas oven. No joke. Will and I called our friend Ben to come over and teach me how to turn on my gas oven… which we realized that the pilot light was broken and I had to practically crawl in it and light a match to get it on… Sylvia Plath anyone?!

What do you think your biggest trigger for homesickness is?
Birthdays. My family does birthdays perfectly. And because my birthday is this weekend (Saturday, to be exact!) I’ve noticed, much like last year, I’m homesick and really missing my family a lot. I’m constantly wishing that I would wake up on Saturday morning with the expected “HAAAAAAAPPYYYYYYYY BIIIIIIIIRTHDAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!” and birthday songs (we sing two birthday songs to the birthday person: the traditional birthday song and a Puerto Rican happy birthday song… feliz, feliz en tu dia…!) and cake and balloons and presents and lots of morning breath! Oh I love my family so much and I love how much we love each other. 

Brunch

A few weeks ago Will and I invited some friends over for brunch! Oh how I love brunch! I made croque madame muffins and the best cinnamon roll recipe ever! Nathalie and Graham brought some fruit to make it at least a little bit healthy.

After sufficiently stuffing ourselves with food and lounging for a hot minute we took advantage of the weather and walked around the Canal and some of the neighborhood.

It really was a beautiful day. And the company was beautiful too!

Post-Holywood

After our breakfast at Holywood we walked up Arthur’s Seat.

This is looking north to Ocean Terminal and the Firth of Forth.

Here’s looking south to the Pentlands.

I loved the sky that day.

After Arthur’s Seat we walked back up the Royal Mile to find a cafe to sit at for a bit.

We figured since Lauryn’s a Harry Potter fan we should probably go to the Elephant House. I do love this cafe. Despite being a tourist hot spot it really is a cool place to go. The food is pretty good and it has an amazing view of the castle.

After we walked back to the Royal Mile to get a couple of souvenirs for the Galloways to bring back home.

Then we started the walk home.

Oh, and I got a welly shot of mine and Lauryn’s Hunter boots!

We’re so artsy and cute.
After being at home for a bit we headed back out to join some friends to do a Ghost Tour; which was freaky. Will didn’t think it was very scary but I was in suspense the whole time. We walked underground into some vaults and the whole time I kept thinking of all the different nooks and corners someone could hide a body and no one would know. And it was cold and dark and echoed. Yes, I scare easily.
After the tour we went to the Bow Bar, one of Will’s favorite pubs.

Photo from Lauryn

The next morning Jared and Lauryn headed off to the airport to go home.  Will and I had so much fun with them. They’re so easy to hang out with and absolutely wonderful people. We loved sharing our home and our city with them. Five days was not enough. Not. Enough.

Holyrood 9A

For Lauryn and Jared’s final day we took them to Holyrood 9A to try the Scottish breakfast. Will had been here before for burgers but I had never been but immediately fell in love. I don’t know if it was all of the dark wood bathed in natural light, or the fact that I was off on a weekday having breakfast with people I love: so many variables!

Great right?! And the food was delicious!
After breakfast we walked/hiked up Arthur’s seat, but that will be for another day. I just thought Holyrood deserved it’s own post because I loved it that much!
If you wanna read about Lauryn’s account of their Scottish breakfast experience click here and then you may proceed to marvel at the rest of her beautiful pictures.

Vintage Fair

About a month ago Judy’s Vintage Fair came to Edinburgh and Will and I went to check it out. I’ll be the first to admit that these things tend to overwhelm me instead of inspire me but I really enjoyed this one. I have always struggled with Goodwill and The Salvation Army-type places back home because they were warehouse of stuff and I just couldn’t focus on anything. It was too much stuff. Maybe that’s why I love the charity shops here so much because they’re small and I don’t feel overwhelmed. Anyway, Judy’s Vintage Fair was great and had a ton of really cool stuff.
That morning we went to the Clock Cafe for some breakfast (I love this place! If I had weekdays off I would go there and write my post cards and read and work on the blog) and then made our way on over to the HMV Picture House where the fair was taking place.

There was also a band in the lobby for our listening pleasure.

And that was the fair. I found this really neat polka-dot pencil skirt that I love and of course haven’t taken any pictures of it. But when I do I’ll let you know (wink).
In March there’s a Yarn Festival going on and I can’t wait to check it out! I’m mentally preparing myself for it now.

Happy New Year!

Last year Will and I were in Paris for New Year’s Eve with my family.  It was a wonderful experience welcoming the new year from beneath a sparkly Eiffel Tower!

This year we were staying in Edinburgh to experience Hogmanay. We had heard so many great things about it. Apparently there is free music, some vendors, and tons a people. I think it rivals New York’s Time Square. We didn’t feel that it was necessary to fork over the £30 to stand in Princes Street so we met up with some friends to ring in the New Year from Calton Hill.

Sorry for the blurry picture. The rest are better, I promise. There wasn’t really a countdown but the fact that we had fireworks going off from the castle and fireworks going off on Calton Hill made it for a 360degree experience!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! I hope your 2013 has started off well!

Cramond

A couple of weeks ago Will and I got on a bus to meet up with some friends in Cramond for their joint birthdays. It was a nice little getaway for the evening. We got there just after the sun set (cough 3:30 cough) and walked around a bit before meeting up in the local pub. We ate homemade brownies, learned what older Irish women say in conversation, and chatted about embarrassing moments. It was a wonderful evening.

Leith

Will and I have used up most of our Saturdays going to the charity shops. We have a ton of things we’re looking for (i.e. large armchair, writing desk, end tables, spice rack, picture frames, etc.) and know that Leith is a goldmine of Charity shops.

Oh, yeah, and we bought a pumpkin and carved it with some friends in Bruntsfield!

And while we were in Bruntsfield we had to stop by Falko, of course!