Welcome to my place . . . Edinburgh
‘In Leith you can eat everything from Michelin star food to sourdough pizzas’
Barry Chapman with his daughter, Greta, on Portobello beach in Edinburgh
Originally from Longford, Barry Chapman moved to Scotland in 1998. After some years in Aberdeen and Glasgow he settled in Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner, Conchi, and their four-year-old daughter, Greta. The Edinburgh International Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe run until August 26th.
What do you like about living in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh manages to be a capital city while retaining a small-town feel. It’s easy to traverse on bike or foot, and it is quite normal to bump into people you know. There is always something happening, always that feeling of being at the centre of things. It is a devastatingly beautiful city. I have lived here for more than 15 years, but I still look up from during my commute to marvel at the tourist-guide prettiness of the place.
Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Edinburgh?
Portobello is only 20 minutes from the city centre. This charming seaside enclave has plenty of smart cafes and restaurants and, regardless of the weather, the promenade buzzes with activity, including hardy year-round swimmers turning blue in the North Sea. It’s a place we spend most Sunday mornings, and I love sharing it with people.
The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are ...
The Scottish weather has a reputation, but don’t let that put you off – especially during the festival. This is a city to be outdoors, whether it’s cycling the Water of Leith pathway or relaxing in one of the city parks, including the truly breathtaking Holyrood Park, complete with extinct volcano, Arthur’s Seat. The Pentland hills are only a short trip away too, where walks give one a feeling of being in the Highlands, all the while looking over a panoramic view of the city and the Firth of Forth. For those inevitable rainy days, there is a huge array of free galleries, from the Scottish National Gallery in the city centre to the Modern Art Gallery in the west end.
Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Edinburgh?
I recommend a trip down to Leith, Edinburgh’s revitalised port district. Here you can eat everything from Michelin star food to sourdough pizzas, but I’d particularly recommend Aurora on the (so far) refreshingly ungentrified Great Junction Street. This tiny bistro mixes modern European flavours and ideas with superb Scottish produce – just like the city does in a larger sense.
Where is the best place to get a sense of Edinburgh’s role in history?
The whole city is an embodiment of Edinburgh’s history. From the castle looming moodily over everyone, to the chaotic Old Town with its narrow “closes”, to the neat and prim New Town, designed by William Henry Playfair when he was only 26 years old.
What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Edinburgh?
Beer! Scottish brewing has had a renaissance over the past decade, and the city is now home to numerous breweries. You might have to pay to check in your bag, but it’ll be worth it when you arrive home with a plentiful supply of beers from the likes of Stewart, Campervan, Pilot, Barney’s and Cross Borders breweries.
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