"If youre Scottish say aye, and if youre
English say, Im sorry."
in the sun, sipping wine at one of the many pavement cafes, I felt
a little disorientated. Was I in Paris, Rome, Milan? No. I was on
the Royal Mile in the trendy part of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
I had imagined Edinburgh to be cold, wet and full of I see
you Jimmy wigs and Nessie stuffed toys. I couldnt have
been more wrong. Edinburgh is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with
a piece of history at every turn.
We stayed in a B and B in the district of Leith, which is close to the
Royal Yacht Britannia. It was a 15 minute walk into the city centre, or
a 5 minute bus ride, and with day passes only costing £2 this seemed
like a good option.
The city houses many of the big name stores on Princes Street and in its
many shopping malls, but if you are looking for something out of the ordinary,
check out the smaller shops tucked away on the quiet little back streets
It would be a shame to spend the whole weekend shopping without exploring
some of the citys history. We went on a pub tour, which offers the
perfect combination of exercising your drinking arm and brain at the same
time. Two eccentric guides argue about the merits of legendary writers,
such as Burns, Wordsworth and Robert Louis Stevenson (to name but a few)
whilst taking you around the drinking establishments that the authors
used to frequent. It is certainly a change from those student pub crawls,
and I actually learned something, too.
As Edinburgh is the home of stand up comedy, we decided to visit the famous
Stand Comedy Club. It was a hilarious night but if you sit at the front,
be prepared to take some serious stick, especially if youre English.
The first comedian came out and said, "If youre Scottish say
aye, and if youre English say, Im sorry."
It is well worth the abuse and £10 entry though. It stays open after
the acts have finished until around 2 am, so theres no real need
to move on.
The next day we plucked up the courage to go on a ghost walk. I had gone
on these in other cities and had never been scared before, so I wasnt
particularly worried. The guide dressed in a long black cape took us though
Edinburghs dark, murky past, showing us grim sights, including the
remains of a street that was sealed up after an outbreak of the Black
Death leaving the residents to die. The most frightening part of the tour,
however, was a trip down into the citys vaults, which recently featured
in a BBC programme on the paranormal. The guide told us of the presences
that have been felt by psychics who have taken the tour, including a heavy
breathing tramp and a little boy who likes to hold visitors hands. I was
keen to make sure that I wasnt at the end of the line in this part,
as I was terrified. The tour was rounded off with the guide sharing more
ghostly tales over a drink in a supposedly haunted inn. I didnt
get much sleep that night.
As well as discovering Edinburghs past, you might want to look to
its future by visiting Our Dynamic Earth. This museum
shows how life has evolved on the earth from the time of the dinosaurs
and explores what the future holds for the planet through a series of
entertaining exhibitions. These include a trip to a rainforest with real
rain and a ride on an earthquake simulator. However, the best bit is saved
until last with the hands-on experiments at the end of the tour.
The Scottish capital certainly surprised me. The next time I feel like
jetting off for a city break, Im going to hop on the train and go
back to Edinburgh, as one things for sure- I havent seen the
half of it yet.
© HEATHER HINCHLEY May 2002
email: Hinchley Heather" firstname.lastname@example.org
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