Enlightenment in Edinburgh

Do you know about Meetup.com? I found it a couple of years ago in Houston, joined a few photography groups and suddenly I had friends! A social life! Plans!

I think I had lived in Houston for three or four years before I found Meetup, had worked at a few different jobs and even had some family there, but I hadn’t really made many friends. I loved the people I worked with, but I hadn’t connected with any “hang out” friends. Once I found a couple of meetup groups, I had nearly instant friends who shared some similar (read nerdy) interests with me.

A few weeks before I moved here to Scotland, I hunted down some local meetup groups and signed up. If you’re going to move to a new place, or even visit for a while, go take a look. It’s a great way to find some events, tours, classes, hikes or whatever kind of activity that takes your fancy.

The first organized meetup we joined was an “Enlightenment Walk” through Edinburgh. We met at the Mercat Cross, which is the old traditional meeting place in the middle of the market where all the good stuff happened. You know, the news was read aloud, government mandates were announced, thieves ears were nailed to the monument, people were executed. All that normal stuff.

We had a tour guide named Margaret who seemed to know every single thing ever about the history of Edinburgh, especially about the philosophers and great thinkers of the eighteenth century.

Did you know that David Hume was a great cook? Who knew?

Also, if you rub the toe of his statue you’ll absorb all of his intellect and strength of character. I wonder what you rub to get his cooking skills?

We walked for nearly two hours on the tour, stopping here and there to learn another piece of history. While I was entirely interested in the great philosophers who were the subjects of our tour, I can’t help but be distracted by all the closes leading between the buildings. A “close” is a tiny alleyway, and most of them seem to lead to some really cool places. When we’re staying in Edinburgh next month I’m going to spend some serious time exploring and getting to know some of them.

We made our way from David Hume to Adam Smith, where we watched a French woman read a great speech aloud to the statue. It was a bit strange to suddenly be standing next to a woman who is shouting at a statue in another language, but it didn’t take us long to realize she was being filmed. She seemed to be part of a TV show doing an expose on Edinburgh, so we moved a bit away and left her to her shouting.

On we went, statue to statue, building to building, college to park, all the while hearing great stories about the great thinkers of the time, and how far and wide their ideas spread around the world. Religion, education, architecture, etc. All of it was transformed by the ideas of a handful of people.

We ended the tour at Calton Hill, with a beautiful view of the city. I made notes, and now have a list of books I want to read to find out more (added to my list of a bajillion books I already want to read), and off we headed to the pub.

Have I mentioned how much I love the pub culture here? I’m gonna have to work up a whole post about just that. The art of the pub is truly brilliant to experience.

We have more walks planned, and I’ll soon be joining a photography group, a theater group, and a book club. See? Ready made social life.

I’ve been here now for just over two weeks, and even though we’re still living out of suitcases and we have no place of our own, I’m already starting to feel at home.

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About akil3655

A Scotsman and his American photographer wife traveling the world and writing about it. Tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what's going to happen.

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7 Responses to Enlightenment in Edinburgh

  1. Jennifer Souza July 19, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Studied this era quite a bit in grad school because it’s having a huge impact on our education and culture now. Learning about this is really a wonderful look into the evolution of cultural thinking.

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      July 19, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

      Right! I loved it, and our guide really tied it all in together very well. Really interesting stuff!
      akil3655 recently posted..Enlightenment in EdinburghMy Profile

  2. Angela
    Twitter: Acook2121
    July 19, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Great walk around Edinburgh and finished with the pub, perfect! Miss the pub culture so much, its not about getting drunk its such a social thing, you can have a cup of coffee in the pub!!! We used to go to a local pub in Dunfermline for breakfast with another 3 couples on a sunday morning, it was about getting together, having great food, great stories and chilling out ! Miss those sundays so much
    Angela recently posted..Scottish Recipes – Coconut Ice SquaresMy Profile

  3. akil3655
    Twitter: kiltandacamera
    July 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    Exactly! The social aspect of it is so nice. (And I DID have a cup of coffee in the pub, lol)

    Also, the pub was like three hundred years old. I love that!
    akil3655 recently posted..Enlightenment in EdinburghMy Profile

  4. Mary-My Life in Scotland July 20, 2012 at 2:12 am #

    Brilliant!! I love Edinburgh! As many times as I’ve been, I haven’t even scratched the surface. Looks like it was a blast! I need to check out some meet up groups. I have friends here but I’m always up for checking out the sights and my Scottish friends really aren’t. Ha! they’ve been around it all their whole lives.
    Mary-My Life in Scotland recently posted..The Departure Lounge:: Products AbroadMy Profile

  5. Julianna July 20, 2012 at 4:57 am #

    I agree with you, although you may have a good relationship with your colleagues, nothing still beats having people who share the same interests as yours. Good thing I found it in some guys that the office.
    Julianna recently posted..maternity scrubs for nurses saleMy Profile

    • akil3655
      Twitter: kiltandacamera
      July 20, 2012 at 7:56 am #

      Yes, it’s a nice thing to find your “people”, isn’t it?