Edinburgh: Look what I stole for us, Darling

If Glasgow is Milan, Edinburgh is Rome. I know of no city with more beauty, atmosphere or dramatic topography┬áin the British Isles and it is a delight to visit. There’s a wonderful ying/yang in the contrast between the dingy winding alleys of the Old Town and the celestial triumph that is the planned New Town. Dividing the two halves are the station and Princes St Gardens, and at the top of that vertical mass of jagged volcanic rock -nature’s own skyscraper- Edinburgh Castle surveys its domains from far above. Proper old castles are fearsome instruments of power. Many of the hilltop towns in Umbria have a papal fortress sitting at the summit to remind them who’s boss and this is similar. We’re not dealing with fairytale castles; in the middle ages, a castle was simply the prerogative of the guys with the biggest swords and clubs. Those days are long gone but the castle still lords it over Edinburgh; wherever you are in the city you can usually see it, and its otherness looms larger still in the imagination. It could stand in for Kafka’s castle.

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