Edinburgh Trams

edinburgh-trams-ticket

Dear Cath,

At this moment it is cold and rainy and gray gray gray in Scotland. Not a shocker, I know, but somehow I’m always a bit scandalized at how audaciously un-springlike Edinburgh can be. People were walking around in wellies and thick jackets today. I bet you guys were in skirts (with bare legs! Kilts don’t count) and sleeveless blouses. I can’t imagine Scotland ever encouraging bare legs and bare arms At The Same Time!

And because Matteo is away, and my mug o tea isn’t being chatty, I’m writing you a blog post/letter. Twice in one week! And as promised: TRAMS.

edinburgh-tram-westend

When was it that we first got so excited about public transport? Was it growing up in Maryland and taking the Metro into D.C. — the place that meant free, cavernous museums and dim sum in China Town? Or was it moving to Atlanta and being able to hop on MARTA a few minutes after getting off a flight (or maybe the way it garbled voice announces “Agnes Scott College” when you pull into the Decatur station)?

I feel like I remember the subterranean transport of NYC, Barcelona and Paris more than any of the major land marks. And still one of my favorite memories from Atlanta is going on the Beltline tour so many years ago (remember this post?).

Getting to know a city’s public transport system(s) has got to be one of the best ways to get to know a city. It’s not a dainty, whimpy how d’ya do handshake, it’s a bear hug that sometimes smells of stale air and looks a little dingy in corners and rumpled around the edges. But the bear hug means you are more than passing acquaintances. You’re free to learn the ins and outs of a place, not just skim the touristy surface. You get to see the good, the bad and the interesting.

edinburgh-transport

Edinburgh is such a compact city and has a pretty darned good public bus system. The bus I take to work across town practically drops me door to door and comes by every 8-11 minutes. The buses are usually clean and drivers friendly. After figuring out the bus system when we first moved here, I was surprised that the city wanted to put in trams. But too much public transport is like too much chocolate cake, so I thought huzzah!

Lucky for Matt and I, we moved to Edinburgh just at the tale-end of all the hullabaloo about the tram works that were incredibly disruptive to local businesses/storefronts. And to add insult to injury, the project is massively over budget, two years over due and only goes to about a third of the locations promised. Trams are a touchy subject in these parts, to say the least.

(There’s a clever public transport prankster going around and changing all the official tram logos to be more “honest”).

But even with all that, there was a palpable (palpable, I tell ya) excitement in the air this past Saturday when the trams officially opened to the public. I woke Matt up early so we could go ride them (I dangled the promise of cups of strong coffee to get him out of the house — though I think he’s quite a public transport fanatic himself, just more of an afternoon fanatic than a first-thing-in-the-morning fanatic).

The trams were smooth. They were quiet. They were heavenly!

Edinburgh-trams-first-day

Edinburgh-trams-inside

I’m not sure if I ever held double-decker buses in any sort of romantic light (I must have done, being an anglophile and whatnot) — but I so wish I could swap my bus ride to work every day with a tram ride. As the trams don’t go all the way down to the Shore like they were supposed to, it’s not worth switching up my route. Oh but that it were!

edinburgh-trams

I can’t wait to hear about the Atlanta street car! I have a romantic view of street cars too (not so much Tennessee Williams, but Judy Garland).

I know you are so busy (you’re buying a house, you’re buying a house, YOU’RE BUYING A HOUSE!!!) so don’t worry about writing back. I just will pepper you with mildly tedious photos of my going-ons so you feel like you are in Edinburgh with me. And I will imagine myself packing boxes and nesting with you!

Love you like cities and public transport,

Lar


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10 Responses to “Edinburgh Trams”

  1. AsianCajuns (Cath) Says:

    OMG, soooo cool! This post makes me excited for the Atlanta streetcar and so happy as a fan of everything urban. Huzzah for public transportation – especially one so beautiful and clean. The fact that it was late and over budget just makes it a normal public transportation project – ha!

    I can’t wait for the next time I come to visit and I can take the tram from the airport into town. That long local bus ride from the Edinburgh airport always make me a wee bit nauseous.

    I love how there’s already a local prankster. Just wait for the “Overheard on the Edinburgh tram” twitter account to pop up – it’s only a matter of days now :)

    Also, how do you look so elegant so early in the morning. I don’t even look half as good when I’m trying! Sheesh! Right now I’m just wearing anything that’s comfortable and cool, which is why you haven’t seen my outfits in a loooonnng time on the blog. I’ll try to change that once I get all of this buying a house and moving business behind me.

    love you sooo!
    xoxo, Cath

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Reply:

    Hi Kitcath!

    Yeah for public transport posts! Streetcar, streetcar, streetcar!

    Oh and Cath you don’t have to dress up for the blog — take lots of pics of you schlepping boxes okay? I want to feeel like i’m there with you (isn’t that annoying — I get the benefit of sharing the experience without helping you do one bit of heavy lifting — tsk tsk).

    Miss you like MAD! Skype Sunday! Yahooo!!!

    xoxoxoxoxoxo, Lar

    [Reply]

  2. Michelle Says:

    Hi there. Love the “Meet Me in St. Louis” reference :) , and the Edinburgh trams look really clean! Really enjoy your blog and your dual perspectives.

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Reply:

    Thanks so much, Michelle! I am so impressed you got that reference! I’ve seriously always wanted to ride a trolly just to imagine I’m a overly-animated Judy Garland singing on one. Thanks for reading!
    x, Lar

    [Reply]

  3. ana b. Says:

    I have no idea how you made a post about public transport and trams sound so romantic and idealistic and beautiful. But you totally did!

    I haven’t visited for a while. Nice to see you ladies flourishing in your respective corners of the world, looking happy and gorgeous.

    xx

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Reply:

    Hi Ana b!
    It’s so nice to hear from you! I can’t wait to catch up on your blog. And I take it as such a compliment from you saying it is idealistic and beautiful because I always find your posts like that too!
    Hope you are doing well!
    xoxox,
    Lar

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  4. MichelleK Says:

    We’ve got trams here in Amsterdam too, but they are building a new subway system, and just like in Edinburgh they are grossly over budget and the due date has been extended so many times I can’t even remember what the original date was. I think the current deadline is 2017, they started in the late 90s!
    Love you post ad love that you get all excited about public transport too :-) I’ve always been a water fan, and since moving to the north side of the city 6 years ago I take the ferry every day – still makes me feel all happy sitting on the deck with the wind in my hair looking out over the water ;-)

    [Reply]

    MichelleK Reply:

    “Love your post and love that….” I mean. Can’t type!

    [Reply]

    AsianCajuns Lar Reply:

    Taking a ferry every day, Michelle?! That’s amazing!!! And I had no idea about Amsterdam’s subway! I’m going to read up on the budget and postponed deadline and tell it to all Edinburgh people who still feel depressed about the trams here — we are not alone in our public transport plight!

    Hope you are having a lovely ride to work right now!

    xoxox,

    Lar

    [Reply]

    MichelleK Reply:

    It’s a new line actually (sorry!), running from the north to to the south. I looked it up on the Dutch wikipedia and they apparently didn’t start building till 2003, but they did start planning and running tests in the late 90s. So weird, could have sworn that the mayor roadworks that were going on in the neighbourhood I lived in in 99-2001 was due to the Noord/Zuid lijn. Go figure! The original due date was 2007, so if they make 2017, they’ll be 10 years late (and who knows how many millions over budget). Like you, I’ll be using Edinburgh’s tram as an example that we’re truly not the only ones who have a government who cannot plan ;-)

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