The first thing I faced upon reaching the Scottish capital was how to correctly pronounce its name. One would think that given the ending – burgh – it would be articulated as in Pittsburgh. Wrong. English wouldn’t be complete without its quirks… Ask a local how to correctly say it: ED-IN-BRUH. Yes, bruh!

The second was the freezing cold temperatures that made it pretty unbearable to spend some quality time outside. Truth be told, when I packed, I took as if I was going to expect mild, rainy weather. Mistakes do happen and I paid the price – a runny nose along with a tenebrous cough.

The third ordeal I had to go through was the accommodation. I thought about doing Couchsurfing due to the fairly steep prices, but a few days before coming to the city I was able to snag a pretty good deal: $13 for 2 nights at a fairly central hostel with average ratings. I knew beforehand I was not in for anything spectacular and it managed to be even worse: dirty floors, uncomfortable mattress, Arctic cold room due to bad isolation, one single toilet for a 12-bedroom and staff that was nowhere to be seen (I waited for about 20 minutes outside the hostel because no one was at the reception). Avoid staying at City Stay Hostel Edinburgh. The price you pay doesn’t make up for all the hassle.

In spite of all this ranting, Edinburgh really found its way to my heart. Inspiring architecture everywhere I looked (from the medieval Old Town to the neo-classical of the New Town), a state-of-the-art museum where spending a full day might not be enough, striking hiking trails that offer great panoramas and at last but not least, affordable prices on food, shopping… (at least when comparing with London!).



Pomelo + mandarine = sweet orange

Portugal and oranges have been tied together for generations… Since the 15th century at least. However if you ask a Portuguese if they have heard anything regarding their country’s connection with oranges, they will most likely raise an eyebrow…
During the XV century, brave sailors from Portugal began wandering into the vast ocean to uncover what was on other side, on other worlds… Today we know these adventures as the Portuguese Discoveries. They ventured into unknown territories along Africa, India and the far East.

Let’s first learn how to pronounce the word orange in several modern Indo-European languages:

Albanian | portokall
Bulgarian | портокал (portokal)
Greek | πορτοκάλι (portokali)
Macedonian | portokal
Persian | پرتقال (porteghal)
Romanian | portocală

Other languages have similar names as well:

Arabic | البرتقال (bourtouqal)
Georgian | ფორთოხალი (p’ort’oxali)
Turkish | portakal

Southern Italian dialects, such as Neapolitan, pronounce orange as portogallo or purtuallo.

I guess you can now sense the similarities between the pronunciation of the fruit orange and the country Portugal!
Portuguese merchants were the first to introduce the sweet orange in Europe. At the time, the orange was an hybrid fruit made from the crossover of a mandarine and a pomelo.
I guess we can thank the Portuguese for giving us the juicy sweet orange we all know and love!


Dia dhuit!

With affordable Ryanair flights all around, it becomes incredibly easy to just hop on a plane and spend a few days somewhere else. Dublin was the chosen destination, as to smell the scents of an unknown territory. The scent of roasted barley, mostly.

Our trip began in great haste. The boarding closed at 9 a.m. and we made it to the airport just 5 minutes before. We hurried through the security screening and soon we made it to the gate. If the flight had not been a few minutes delayed, we wouldn’t have made it. A great rush of adrenaline even before we set foot in Dublin!

That’s the way you pronounce it. But you should write it as “craic”.

Let’s go have some crack! said every Irish once weekend comes. Not to worry, the Irish are not on the verge of having to check-in to a detox clinic. Craic is an Irish word, with no exact English translation. The closest meaning to it is fun.

“Having craic” is having a good time or a laugh. However, due to an unfortunate similarity in pronunciation with a well-known and illegal narcotic substance, not everyone gets the right idea about it… So if you are in Dublin and want to have some craic, head to Temple Bar and have a good time.

If you happen to be in Dublin for a few days, I highly recommend hopping on a train (or bus, or whatever transport suits you better) and go immerse yourself in the nature. We chose Howth, a seaside village merely 20 minutes away from Dublin by train. Set out for a walk along the cliff paths and soak in all the misty and damp beauty of the place. Make it extra worth and bring with you some light sandwiches for an invigorating picnic.

Do you know what Guinness and Ryanair have in common? Take a look at their logos… You’ll notice something: the harp! Only when in Dublin I came to such realisation. Silly me.

But why the harp?
Both Ryanair and Guinness were born in the leprechaun island.

Is is known that the harp as history dating as far as 1000 years. Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland (death: 1014), is said to have been an accomplished harp player, but little evidence remains to sustain this fact. However, 12th century historical records refer to the Celtic harp being the only music played during the Crusades.

At this time, the Gaelic harp was hold in high regard in Celtic culture (and all over Europe). Scottish and Irish kings had their own resident harper who, in turn, enjoyed high status and special privileges.

In 1531, when the English monarch Henry VIII declared himself King of Ireland, the country’s harp was taken into high regard, being chosen as the official symbol of Ireland and stamped on every coin issued during Henry’s realm.

What not to forget!

  • Bring with you a power plug adapter! Ireland uses the same standard as the UK…
  • If it’s in your plans to go out of the city to explore the nature, bear in mind the shoes you take. It can get quite muddy.