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Rona Dougall: Magical, beautiful, breathtaking… Edinburgh is the city I’m so happy to call home

© Shutterstock / f11photoEdinburgh
Edinburgh

Confirmation this week, if any was needed, that Edinburgh is the best city in the world.

The Time Out Index is an annual survey of thousands of locals about where they live. People are quizzed about everything from cleanliness to community spirit. It’s incredibly comprehensive and paints a picture of what it’s really like to live in some of the most iconic places on the planet.

This year, Auld Reekie beat off stiff competition from New York, Prague and even France’s capital city, Paris. It’s quite an accolade.

So what do Scots like about living there? Or rather here. As I’d better confess that I have skin in the game. It’s where I call home.

Edinburgh named as best city in the world to visit in 2022 by Time Out magazine

Scotland’s capital scored high across the board, and performed especially high for walkability and for not being stressful. London rated a measly 52% on that front. I’m sure the two go hand in hand. I love visiting the Big Smoke but the prospect of travelling for hours to get from one side of the city to the other is daunting and actually puts me off visiting.

As the survey found, there is no problem with that in Edinburgh. You can walk quite comfortably the length and breadth of the city and that gives you a wonderful sense of freedom. If your feet do get weary, there is a fantastic bus service.

It also rated 95% for beauty. With a castle bang in the middle of the Old Town and some of the most stunning architecture you could hope to find, I can’t argue with that. I climbed Blackford Hill the other night to catch the last rays of summer sunshine and enjoyed the most stunning panoramic view. It really becomes clear when you have a bird’s-eye view, what an incredibly green place it is as well. And then there is the sea glittering in the distance and the Pentland Hills. It really is breathtaking.

I know Glasgow is called the Dear Green Place, but I still prefer being at the other end of the M8. Glasgow, incidentally, came in fourth place on the list and was voted the most friendly. But who cares about that?

I grew up outside Glasgow and my dad certainly loved it there. He always used to say the best thing about the capital was the train to Glasgow. He lives in rural Perthshire now, but I reckon his heart still belongs in the city he called home for so many years.

Although the Covid lockdown was the most horrible time and was hard for everyone, one of the very few positives is that folk lucky enough to live in Edinburgh had the city to themselves. On one walk across the city I strode from the Esplanade to the bottom of the Royal Mile and only came across a handful of people. It was a truly eerie, wonderful experience and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

This year, everything is back to normal and tourists are everywhere. It’s hard to get used to again after a period of such calm, but it is good to see the city bustling and thriving. The festival will be back with a bang soon and I’ll probably try and avoid the centre for a while. It’s often said that everyone loves this time of year except the locals, but you do see some strange and wonderful sights. And for a while you feel like you’re at the centre of the universe.

When the city empties out and everything returns to normal, everyone, well certainly me, breathes a sigh of relief.

I love that time, not just because we get some peace and quiet but also because autumn and winter in the city are just magical. A foggy, icy night in the capital is my very favourite time. It adds such atmosphere to an already magical place that I feel truly lucky to live in.

The aim of the Time Out Index is to point people in the direction of places locals are raving about. And there can be no better recommendation, I guess. I would certainly urge visitors to put it to the top of their bucket list.