As our Lifestyle Editor, Lee Clark said back in October, autumn is our season here at The Attic on Eighth. We’d be sad to see it unofficially go now that most of the leaves have fallen to the ground, but December brings such seasonal joy with it that […]
Sunday Strolls is a new Attic series in which our Editors offer you a glimpse into their everyday lives by taking you around some of the cities they call home. In this first edition, Olivia walks you around her second most-frequented Swiss city, Neuchâtel. Filled with […]
Traveling on the Orient Express has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. I love trains, and I’ve been aesthetically drawn to the early twentieth century since I first watched The Secret Garden as a small child. Instead of fading over time, my love for these things has only grown – my graduate studies are now focused on the time period and my aesthetic heart flutters whenever I get to experience anything related to it. Of course, actually traveling on the Orient Express these days is impossible. Not only are its golden years of the 1900-1930s over, but the line slowly disappeared after it stopped serving Istanbul.* A replacement line, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, now exists as the epitome of luxurious train travel, but it is not only inaccessibly expensive for a graduate student (and for most people), but it doesn’t even seem to be serving Istanbul at this time either. That might be fine for those wishing to do the trip just for the glamour or the prestige, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s absolutely no point of traveling on the Orient Express if you don’t get to spend a few days in Istanbul on one end of your trip.
Whenever I visit Istanbul, I like to stay in Beyoğlu. Hilly, historical, and packed with turn-of-the-century buildings and much, much older landmarks, it makes me feel alive. Cats wander the streets and check in on you as you eat meze and drink cocktails to your heart’s content in […]
When anyone talks about punting, my mind inevitably goes to one place: Venice. I’ve never really wanted to go punting in Venice – the canals smell much too strong and I have an aversion to anything extremely touristy… but the thought of punting outside of Venice? Yes. What could be nicer than sitting in a boat and slowly traveling through a series of canals as you peacefully take in your surroundings? Luckily for me, I got to do just that earlier this month, in the Marais Poitevin.
While we were staying at a family home in Western France, my partner’s parents suggested that we explore the region and spend an afternoon in the nearby Marais Poitevin. The Marais Poitevin is a large region of marshland near the city of Niort, crossed by a series of canals. The canals are surrounded by trees and often covered in duckweed and the Marais Poitevin is consequently also known as the “Green Venice.” The duckweed had disappeared in the areas we explored, but we had a wonderful, peaceful, and very green afternoon anyway.
Once upon a very long time ago, I decided that I was going to move to Scotland. I applied to Edinburgh and Saint Andrews and decided that Edinburgh was the city for me. I accepted an offer to study there, and then I chickened out and moved to Switzerland instead. The only time I’ve even come close to regretting this decision was this past week, visiting Edinburgh with my love and spending all of our time visiting old buildings, museums, and bookshops.
Of course if I had moved there, I wouldn’t have the life I have now, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. What I can do though is travel to Edinburgh more frequently in the future and take advantage of the bookshops (and the cool temperatures and gorgeous architecture). I can also share the bookshops we visited with you so that everyone can have a very bookish time.
Hands down, the most impressive bookshop we visited in Edinburgh was Armchair Books. Just beyond Grassmarket Square and below the Castle, Armchair Books is a small, winding secondhand shop stocked floor to ceiling with books. It’s beautiful to look at, even if you aren’t looking to buy anything. It’s full of gorgeous old editions at comparatively reasonable prices, including many collectibles and first editions. I almost cried over a second printing of The Secret Garden from 1912 and even held a first edition of The Little Lord Fauntleroy in my hands. Armchair Books was the last of the bookshops we visited in Edinburgh, but next time, it’ll be the first.
Also located in Greater Grassmarket, The Old Town Bookshop is tiny but memorable. They have a nice selection of Scottish works, Victorian editions of classics, old prints, and even a selection of recent paintings from a local artist. My partner was happy with their Walter Scott collection and picked up one of the Waverley novels for his collection, while I swooned over a an old Folio Society edition of Jane Austen’s letters.
Blackwell’s bookshops may not seem special if you live in or near a university town in the UK, but it’s heaven on earth if you live in a non-anglophone country and love new books. Blackwell’s is huge, reasonably priced, and has plenty of “2 for 3”-type deals. I was in heaven and stocked up as I could. The shop also has a nice Scottish section and let me find an Ali Smith novel I didn’t know existed but am now dying to read.
58 South Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1LS, UK
+44 131 558 9009
Though the most disappointing of the bookshops we visited, Southside Bookshop is still a solid secondhand address. You need luck to be on your side to find what you’re looking for, but I still found some nice Virginia Woolf editions that I was tempted to buy.
Now tell me – what did I miss and where do I need to go next time?
Summer is quickly approaching (and is already here for many of us on the academic clock!), and as such, long hours on trains and planes are imminent. Once upon a time, summer meant multiple transatlantic flights to and from Europe for me. Those days are […]