My photos are, as I note below, not so great, so this image is courtesy of Alex Morrice. If you are really interested, you can check out my flickr photostream to see my touristy snaps of Edinburgh. I’d recommend checking out Alex’s website for nicer photos.
It’s curious that I’m in the midst of writing a long essay about the tourist gaze (among other things), because I’ve landed smack in the middle of one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, and therefore gawp and take snapshots like the awestruck tourist I always knew I could be (but was usually playing it too cool to allow myself to be). It’s slowly starting to sink in – I really do live in Edinburgh, this postcard-beautiful place that I can’t stop gaping at.
So while I write about the tourist and quote Aldous Huxley saying things like “A man might spend his life in trains and restaurants and know nothing of humanity at the end. To know, one must be an actor as well as a spectator”, I gleefully hang about in my new city, spectating and not acting, taking generally bad digital photos and yelling “Look at that! …LOOK at that!” every time I catch a glimpse of an obvious jawdropper, like Edinburgh Castle (in the photo above).
It took a good couple of weeks to get over my “Look at that!” phase, and subsequently I became more absorbed in the details, which are what make cities interesting. At the moment I’m a bit fixed on the closes (note to North Americans: closes are like alleys). They help you get away from crowded main streets for one, and so mastery of them gives you that “I live here” feeling of satisfaction, but also they play host to a number of details that would make any flâneur smile – like very old brickwork, worn mossy steps, ornate signage, and, if you stand at the high street level of Advocate’s Close and look back, you’re rewarded with a nice view (though it’s hard to move around much in Edinburgh without being rewarded with a nice view).
I am finally getting settled into my wonderful new job, slowly unpacking my things into my flat, and getting the administrivia of life sorted (bank accounts, etc). It feels good to grasp at something resembling a life rhythm. It feels good to blog again.