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Edinburgh in General

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      23.10.2011 17:11
      Very helpful



      The best British City one can find

      Over the last two years we as a family have started to take up cruising as a holiday rather than going on package holidays The first cruise we went too was to Copenhagen, Denmark, Hamburg, Germany, Tallinn, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, Helsinki, Finland and finally Stockholm in Sweden. All except Russia I enjoyed- (I shall review the cities later.) You may of noticed that we did not go to Oslo, Norway at this point. However two years later we did. I have to admit it was my favourite place out of the cities we went to this time the that included (Amsterdam, Hamburg (You must see that I love Hamburg better than Edinburgh but I have been there 3 times now so Edinburgh felt more special in a way) Copenhagen, Le Havre and Oslo. However I have finally discovered my favourite British city. Edinburgh!!!! Before I go any further I shall now say we did not actually sail straight into the City we went a up past the city into the village suburb of Hawes.

      First Impressions on leaving the ship; It was really my father who wanted to see the City- and because I had never been to Scotland before, I sort of decided brave the Traditional British weather and leave the boat. I have to admit you could tell you were in Scotland not only because it was raining but because we were greeted by the Scottish Bag Pipes though I will admit that I am not overly fond of such an instrument but in a way it was a nice touch. I must say I was not impressed with the village of "Hawes" as the river appeared to be polluted and ill kept. However overlooking that standing in front of the river I have to say the village appeared pretty with a forest as a backdrop. We were then put on a bus for a short drive to the main city itself by a Costa Cruise transfer. I have to say the Outskirts of the City where surprisingly OK for such a large city. It was then we hit the city center. I have to admit Edinburgh is undoubtedly the most beautiful cities in the UK!!! Which I shall describe a little more in the shopping section


      Value For Money; I found the shopping streets in Edinburgh to be priced as any other city in the UK. So in the shopping centers all were priced to any other UK City. This is because most of the shops are chain stores. Such as John Lewis and Curry's Digital. There were a few Scottish chains such as shops selling Whiskey and Shortbread which where priced higher than your normal Waitrose shop. But I believe it to worth the difference for the culture experience. I have to admit though- I was angry that in the large shopping centers in the City they charged you £0.20 to go to the toilet which I guess I should be used to as I am used to as I travel to Germany frequently. On top of that the toilets in the Princess mall in Edinburgh were actually very clean. Though we dined at no restaurants I can conclude Edinburgh as a traditional City for pricing of food and drink. Expect to pay then as you usually would in any chain restaurant in the UK and it to be expensive to dine in a big tourist attraction such as Edinburgh Castle. To give an example the price of a Fanta in a luxury superstore (e.g. Waitrose- a 500ml bottle costs £1.08) However in Edinburgh Castle you will pay £1.80 per bottle. As you would expect our main reason to get of the ship at Edinburgh is because of the famous castle. I have to admit I do not like walking around castles for hours on end. We found that Edinburgh Castle was expensive to enter. For an adult (16 or over it costs £15.00 to get in. Children between 5-15 pay £8.50. Concession's are free (unemployed and over 60) Children under 5 are also free. We as a family of 5 had to pay for all (3x Adults and 2x children) Totaling £62.00 OUCH. However personally I felt the castle was worth the money as it offered marvelous views over Edinburgh, which was great for me as I love photography.


      Getting around; Edinburgh is an easy place to get around. Though quite hilly we found once we got to Princess Street looking up towards the castle the walking distances were walkable from the shopping grounds and up to the castle. The walk from the street where very attractive to the castle. This is because Edinburgh is a very green city. The walk to the castle however for some may find it tricky as it is quite a climb!!!! However there are many Taxis waiting before the incline to the Castle which I would strongly advise for a disabled person.


      How safe does Edinburgh feel?

      I never once felt threatened in the city. (Though I am a 6"2 ft male who still has not finished growing) However the City was very clean with very little litter or graffiti. The city appeared wealthy because of the high quality buildings (and cars) there. The Parks were always open with little "hiding places" such as behind trees etc.- so there were no real opportunities for robbery. Edinburgh is always packed with tourist's anyway- so there really is little opportunity for crime!!


      The Weather; We went to Edinburgh in August 2011 on a cruise. The weather was actually quite bad. However I really did not mind this and it actually stopped once arriving in the City Center. Expect in Winter changeable weather with daytime averages of 6 Celsius and -1 Celsius by night. Spring is often cool with temperatures at 15 Celsius by day and 2-5 Celsius at night. Summer temperatures rarely exceed 22 Celsius and drop to 12 Celsius by night and can be very changeable as it can in all British cities. However I would visit the City in autumn myself. This is because the temperatures are that of spring- and sometimes warmer. It also means you get away from the crowd rush in the summer.


      Shopping; I absolutely loved shopping in Edinburgh. This is because the City's shops were all packed together in a long street. Not only was this convenient it was also lovely to be in a shop looking out to the beautiful Castle. I feel Edinburgh would be my ideal choice of shopping after Hamburg because the experience of shopping is very friendly. It was also nice to see a few independent stores on the streets, selling Whiskey, reminding you were you are in the world!!! It was also nice to see a real market- ones were it feels it was made to a quality level. The Street market was quite large. On top of that the Market was smart with no discarded litter once they packed up and left!!! I also loved the shopping experience. Edinburgh really does have some fine architecture and the shops are placed into it- it even makes an everyday Boots Store attractive. There was also plenty of Traffic pedestrian crossings too. The City is normally crowded with cars so traffic moves slowly enough, meaning traffic is not such a threat as it is in London.


      Nightlife; I cannot comment on the nightlife as it was a day trip to the City. However the City hosts many nightclubs and Pubs around the City from what I saw

      Verdict; A truly lovely city, a really nice contrast of modern shops with beautiful old architecture- A must see for anyone!


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        02.03.2010 05:46
        Very helpful



        Living in Edinburgh - weather, schools, car boot sales, public transport

        We came back to Britain six years ago, and fully intended to live in London. Three days of gritty eyes, hair that washed out black and schools that looked like they should be pulled down instead of being inflicted on children convinced us that London was not where the taxpayers hard earned dosh was being spent. After a couple of false starts we ended up in Edinburgh.

        Edinburgh is a great place to live. Many people first moving to Edinburgh live south of the castle. As a rule of thumb, the further inland (south) you go, the higher you are and the worse the weather. The first two winters we were here, living on the north side, near the sea, the longest snow settled was overnight, and then only a pathetic half an inch. I was telling my friends that it doesn't snow in Edinburgh. Then one day that second winter, we ventured south, just as far as Bonnyrigg, barely ten miles south of the city, and just off the ring road. What a surprise. It looked like Canada! Trees with their boughs weighed down by snow, white as far as the eye could see. And it was SO cold. This is a city with two climates - below the snowline/castle we get lots of sunshine, yes, even in winter, pathetic rain (drizzle does not count as rain, I doubt if North Edinburgh has ever met up with the spectacular sheet rain one gets in places like Manchester), and snow that puts on a great show of falling, settles for a couple of days at best, never seems to manage more than an inch (and that's optomistic). If your idea of snow is "lovely to look at , lovely to see, but not outside my front door, please" then North Edinburgh is a good place to live. Venture above the snowline, so most points south of the castle, and it's a different story. Rain that really looks like rain, snow that is capable of simulating Canada, if only for a few days, and an inland cold that can chill your bones.

        I like the cold. Unlike the heat, it's an easy matter to dress warm and snug before venturing out. Sunny and cold is my ideal climate. Not an insect in sight. No cockroaches, ants, flies in the house. No flies chasing you down the street (anyone who has ever lived in a hot climate may be familiar with being chased by a fly?).

        Is Edinburgh a friendly city? Probably not as friendly as some other cities I have lived in. I've made acquaintances rather than close friends in the years we have been here. It's not the kind of place where one can drop by the neighbours for a chat. Having said that, there is a lot going on, and plenty of scope for meeting people - there seems to be a club for every interest.

        If you have children and you are planning on using state, rather than private, schools to educate them, some research of the local secondary schools would be well advised. I suggest emailing the Edinburgh City Council and asking them to email you back a map of the catchment areas. What we found is that you get a very good performing school next to a poorly performing school. This is just my opinion, but on the south side stick to Boroughmuir, James Gillespies or Firhill. On the north side, the Royal High is a very good school. Likewise Trinity Academy. To the East, Portobello High School is quite good. To the west of the city, Craigmount High is quite good. For Catholic secondary schools, the best, and heavily over subscribed, is St Thomas Aquinas.

        Catchment areas are important here; if you're not in the catchment area, the chances are you won't get a place at a good school, because they tend to be oversubscribed. It's rare to be in the catchment zone and not get a place in P1 or S1, but not unheard of.

        Shopping in general in Edinburgh is pretty poor as cities go, particularly in the city centre. The new town, where the main shopping centre is located, is like a place that people pass through on the way to somewhere else rather than a place to go and enjoy a day out shopping. There's hardly any pedestrianised areas, and what there is seems half hearted. As to Princes Street, my advice would be to skip the shops and head across the road to Princes Gardens and the art gallery. Much better value!

        If you like to shop, I recommend heading out to Livingston, to the Almond Centre. This is three shopping centres, all joined together and indercover, including a dedicated designer outlet. Even better would be to catch the train to Glasgow and investigate Buchanan Street and all the surrounding streets and shopping centres.

        On a brighter note, the Lothian Bus service is nothing short of astonishing. When we first got here, I couldn't understand why no one used timetables. I've since worked it out. Some of the buses run every 4 minutes. Our local stop is on five bus routes (why have one bus service when you can have five?) It's also very cheap. I would ignore organised bus tours and instead, if you are coming here to settle, go to the Lothian Buses office - there's one in Hanover Street, near Princes Street in the New Town, - and invest in a weekly or monthly pass. The cheapest method is monthly direct debit, but in the meantime, a monthly or weekly pass is well worth the investment. The other thing to note about these buses is that the city centre is never the destination - it's just a place some of them pass through. For an alternative tour, plus a great way to get to know the city, I recommend getting on any bus and just staying on it. At the terminus, there's no need to get off- it just turns around and comes back. The buses serve Midlothian (south of Edinburgh) and East Lothian, so are a cheap way to see further afield. There is something to be said about using buses rather than cars to learn how a city goes, because they are higher up, so give you a better vantage point than a car.

        I don't really enjoy driving within Edinburgh itself. Not many traffic jams, but plenty of obstacles. I like the fact that all the services are underground, so no ugly power lines gracing the streets, but it means one utility company or the other is forever digging up the roads. This seems to be an Edinburgh thing, because from what I have seen of the rest of Scotland this doesn't seem to be as much of a problem.

        We arranged viewings of flats and houses before we came here, with a lot of help from Google Earth, and thanks to its efforts when it comes to mapping every single street. The older style tenements have advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, they are close to main roads, so very good for public transport, the rooms are usually huge, with ten foot ceilings, and if you are on a high enough floor you hardly hear the traffic. Plus they have very thick walls, - I have never heard the neighbour next to us but on next door's stair in almost six years of being here. The downside is that they can come with a lot of stairs, 60 in our case. Plus the parking isn't always that great. On street and sometimes you have to park a couple of streets away, even if you have resident parking. If we were to move, we would move down to one of the new waterfront apartments, by the sea. Maybe not to everyone's taste, but I did see one with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, (which I thought was a bit OTT) a balcony and views to die for at around £800 a month recently.

        We had heard that Edinburgh was a city where people walked everywhere. When we first came here, there seemed to be hardly any people on the street. We couldn't understand it. Where were they all? Then one day I was walking along the street, and the guy in front of me disappeared. Literally. One minute he was there, and in the blink of an eye he was gone. I followed him down these steps - just to see where he went. Well, what a surprise! The old railway cuttings have all been turned into bicycle and walking tracks. And they were full of people. People walking home from work, people with their grocery shopping, cyclists, dog walkers. It was like finding this alternative world. I've since discovered that Spokes pblish very good guides to these tracks.

        If you like the sea, then I recommend a trip to South Queensferry, just near the Forth Road Bridge. Unfortunately, though it is within the city of Edinburgh boundaries, Lothian Buses don't go there. You have to use First instead, annoying because they are more expensive. Heading east, Portobello beach is a proper beach and is on a bus route (no 26).

        If you like car boots and jumble sales, there are plenty here. The main Sunday car boot is on Sundays, underground at the Omni centre, at the top of Leith Walk. It's on the 4th underground level. It's opposite the St James Centre, - the main entrance is opposite the back entrance to John Lewis. There are quite a few buses that stop right outside it. The 22 bus is good, because it runs every few minutes, even on Sundays. I love indoor car boot sales. They are warm and cosy in winter. And there's no chance of leaking roofs in this car park. In the Omni centre itself, overlooking the roundabout at the top of Leith Walk, there is a Wetherspoons pub, called Lloyds. I recommend it. It has cheap, good quality coffees (used to be 99p, but currently £1.29) and full English breakfasts for around £3. Though it is a pub, provided you are eating a meal you can take children into the dining area. I have spent many a Sunday in there eating a full vegetarian breakfast.

        If you are selling at the car boot, you probably need to get there for around 6am. You go in and grab your spot, but you can't actually open until the horn goes, at 8.30am. And you also can't leave until 1pm, after the horn has sounded. A bit regimented I know, but it's great if you are buying, because you don't have to get there at 7am to grab the bargains. A leisurely (for car booting) arrival at around 9am should ensure you get plenty of first picks. For selling though, it poses a problem, in so far as you probably have a wait of at least an hour and a half. There are no toilets at the car boot, but across the road, up the back of the cathedral, there are public toilets which usually open at around 6am. If they aren't open, there's a MacDonalds, along Princes Street, on the east side of South St Andrew Street, which opens at 5am. There are no toilets in the Omni Centre without going into the restaurants, but Lloyds opens at 8am.

        If you prefer outdoor car boot sales, then on Saturdays and Sundays there is a car boot opposite Asda, at Chesser, at the back of the Corn Exchange. Any bus that goes up Dalry Road (the A70) would stop next to it. The number 35 bus stops right at the entrance.

        Further afield, there is another indoor car boot up at Kinross (on the way to Perth, 26miles north of Edinburgh), at the motor auction site, every Saturday, with a smaller car boot section and a regular market on a Sunday. There is also an outdoor car boot on a Sunday out at East Fortune, at the old airfield site, though this is more like a regular market, with not so many car booters. The on line information about both these sales have good links.

        When it comes to jumble sales, spring fayres and the like, we have a steady stream all year round. The ones I would recommend are Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled out at Balerno (usually last week of January but this year postponed until 13th March because of the weather), Greenbank Parish Church (South Morningside - April), Cramond Kirk (this year 13th March, usually in March) and St Serfs Spring Fayre (Ferry Road, usually in early June).

        For places to stay, if you are not driving and on a budget, the Travelodge in the old city is worth a look, especially if you book well in advance.


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          27.01.2010 23:28
          Very helpful




          Whilst discussing the recent inclemency of the weather with my pint-sized nan, I recalled a story to her about being sat on a Pallet and taken to Primary School by being dragged behind a lemon yellow Land Rover that wound its way through my snowbound village picking up kids along the way.

          She insisted that this must have been during the big snowfall of 1964, even though my dad would have only been 13 years old himself back then.

          This conversation, and nothing else, inspired me to go a bit Danny Wallace and book a last minute weekend trip to Edinburgh, all the way in Scotland which I'm recently reliably informed is actually firmly ensconced in the year 2010, but is still a city that probably won't be ready until about 2011, if you're planning on anything other than walking, such is the supposed blight of current central road works to install a tram network, and was the sole topic of conversation for the 20 minute taxi-hop from airport to our Hotel on George Street, which was helpfully called The George Hotel. Upsetting for Zippy, but easy to remember after a night on the tiles. There were roadworks, but no cars to be jammed so we didn't really notice any inconveniences.

          Edinburgh City Centre is a relatively easy place to navigate around, especially when your hotel is right in the middle of town - I could tell it was the middle because there was a building that looked like it used to be a courthouse but is now a Wine Bar and a Hard Rock Café directly across the street, and they only build these things in the middle of cities.
          We went straight out into the chilly drizzle to have a wander up The Mound towards Edinburgh Castle, and from the winding side street on the steep hill, Scotland's Capital's Castle looked quite a lot like the D'alt Villa in Ibiza Town. And that's a good thing.

          We were aiming to get to the Castle to see the famed 1 O'clock gun firing, but as we arrived at the car park, walking apace, it turned out that my watch was some 5 minutes slow as the gun went off. Except it wasn't slow if I'd went into the train station, which runs a clock 2 minutes slower than the gun, to make travellers feel like they have more time to catch their train. I'd still have missed my train by 3 minutes.

          We poked around the visitor centre and were beguiled by the number of foreign tourists, I've felt less lost amongst hyper-tourism at Trafalgar Square.
          Leading away from the Castle are an assemblage of roads that are collectively known as the Royal Mile, offering the very best in Cashmere Jumpers, Diana Memorial Tartan and night time ghost tours.
          The Royal Mile caters to the tourist exceptionally well, and there's a spur road off of it that had shops that would suit Goths and Students alike. Back across the bridge we took refuge from the drizzle in a shopping centre that was arranged so that all the posh shops like Harvey Nichols and Jenners were just around the outside of it, but not inside. Very thoughtful, to keep all the Chavs out of sight so not to distract the tourists from the impressive architecture of the New Town, which is a minor misnomer for this part of the city as it was built by short men in tall hats in the late 1700s. So not new at all, but mightily impressive all the same.

          On the Weekend we were there, all of the locals were getting ready to celebrate Burns Night, which sounds like you'll end up dancing round with a fire blanket before spending a night in A&E, but the meal I went to was an even more bizarre experience than that.

          Rabbie Burns, (not Rabbi Burns, he's not a Jewish Holy man) was an 18th Century Poet who is probably best known for writing the words to Auld Lang Syne, even though the music that made it popular was actually written by William Shield, off of Newcastle, in England.

          Burns is seemingly the Scottish answer to Jesus, as there's an annual celebration on his birthday, where traditionally all Scots get together for a family meal, sing some songs, read some poetry and eat a lot of food, much like the Christmases in Chris a Colombus movie.
          For my Burns experience, I booked a table at the Channings Hotel, which from the outside looks like an imposing terraced townhouse in Edinburgh's West End, and inside through a collection of corridors and narrow staircase that lead us down into a restaurant area. Waiting on our table was a glass of single malt whiskey, which I supped whilst waiting for the food to arrive.

          Just as I licked the rim of the glass, a bagpipist sauntered in, playing a ditty, followed by a man with an enormous dead haggis on a platter and carrying a sword.

          What followed, as the menu informed me, was a Selkirk Grace by Burns, and a Presentation of the Haggis, which was a very heavily accented poem or speech, or both before the Haggis was ceremonially sliced with the sword by the man in the Kilt. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the occasion created a buzzy and agreeable atmosphere, and when at the end of the speech, we toasted and drank to Mr Burns, I was downing my second malt Whiskey in ten minutes, on an empty stomach, and really rather enjoying myself.

          Starters were Cock-a-leekie soup, with added medjool dates to make it both look posh and be more fibrous, followed by a fish course of smoked haddock, then the Haggis was served as a stuffing to the Chicken main course and the tasty sounding 'Neeps and tatties' but otherwise known as Turnips and Potatoes .
          Haggis, a dish made from such contents that you don't want to know about, blended together with other herbs to create a deliciously spicy but oddly textured flavour that was strangely moreish whilst at the same time unsure if I actually liked it.

          Tell your kids, and any visiting American Tourists on adjacent tables that the best way to catch a Haggis is to chase one around a hill anti-clockwise as their right legs are longer than their left, so they fall over.

          Don't tell them what it's really made from, however nice it might be.
          After the cheese and desert courses were more speeches and poetry, before a folk band stirred the whiskey in everyone so much that they got up and went to the bar as one. We were full of local cheer and traditions so got up and returned to our hotel bar to drink Myties before bed.

          My stay in Scotland's capital was somewhat last minute, but we still managed to have an original and memorable experience with still accepting we were missing out on many more sights to see, such as the Zoo. Or the Scottish Parliament. Where you can see Chimpanzees, apparently.

          I'd go again.


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            14.10.2009 21:22
            Very helpful



            Edinburgh offers everything you could wish for and then exceeds your expectations

            Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and the second biggest city within Scotland. The city itself is hugely popular with tourists from far and wide and it is not unusual to see huge groups of American or Asian tourists with their huge cameras strapped around their neck.
            The city offers a huge amount for visitors to see including the famous Edinburgh Castle, Mary King's Close, Edinburgh Dungeons, Edinburgh Zoo and a huge variety of theatres and museums. My wife and I had the joy of visiting Mary King's Close which is an old close (or street) that was built over in excess of a hundred years ago but the buildings themselves were used as foundations for the new structures being placed on the top of them and it is a simply amazing experience and offers fantastic tours which are very interesting but also entertaining.
            The city also has a large variety of shops on offer with variety never being something you need to worry about thanks to the sheer volume of shops on offer all along the one central street in the centre.
            There are also a large amount of restaurants, pubs and transport options available with a new tram line currently in the process of being installed, excellent train links and bus links on offer. The city centre is a no go for cars (other than taxis) which means that there is less congestion and polution in the area causing less polution and a much nicer experience for people keep on a day out.
            In terms of sports the main offerings come from Hearts of Midlothian Football Club, Hibernian Football club (both of which are Scottish Premier league teams and well followed with nicely maintained all seater stadiums) and the Scottish national rugby stadium (Murrayfield) also having many rugby matches as well as other offerings.


            - Excellent variety of stores, restaurants and pubs
            - Great variety of tourist attractions
            - Clean streets and well maintained surroundings
            - Great transport links
            - No cars in the city centre meaning reduced pollution, noise and making a nicer experience for pedestrians
            - A large variety of entertainment events on regularly including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival


            - None

            Edinburgh offers tourists and locals alike a great variety whilst also having well maintained streets and surroundings aswell as excellent transport links.


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            20.08.2009 21:18
            Very helpful



            Scotland's capital city really is currently "auld reekie" :-(

            I have been living in Edinburgh now for five years, and in that time I have gone from loving the place to desperately wanting to leave. I am, however, marooned here for the foreseeable future, due to a combination of factors, the biggest one being sheer bad luck.

            We moved to Edinburgh from London for several reasons, the main one being my husband was working in the city at the time. Our daughter was due to leave her special school and the mainstream options available to her in London weren't great. Actually, that's being generous - they were hopeless.

            For several years Edinburgh had been portrayed as the best place to live for quality of life, and my husband, having worked in the city in the past, was ready for a change - so we made the decision to move 400 miles north.

            ~~So what's right with Edinburgh?~~

            The thing that always impresses the visitor to Edinburgh is the architecture and the history. Taking a walk in the Old Town is fascinating as you imagine how things were hundreds of years ago, when the city got its nickname of "Auld Reekie" from the effluence thrown from windows onto the streets.

            I frequently visit High Street in the City, which is part of the Royal Mile, and no matter what time of year I go the area is full of tourists, many of them taking part in walking tours with guides who manage to remain incredibly enthusiastic about their subject, no matter how many tours they carry out.

            Sometimes I can find the tourists a little irritating, as they get in my way whilst I battle my way to the office I use to renew my parking permit, however I try to remind myself that I have no doubt been an irritating tourist myself in the past.

            The New Town is just as interesting historically, but visually is very different. One goes from the claustrophobia of the Old Town - with buildings packed closely together, with the sixteenth century equivalent of high rise flats in the shadow of the castle, to the light and spacious grandeur of the New Town and its quite stunning Georgian architecture.

            Edinburgh Castle is no doubt the city's most famous landmark and while there is no doubt it looks very imposing, it certainly isn't the most impressive castle I have ever seen. I don't mean to sound churlish - and I finally visited the castle not long after moving here - but compared to the sheer size of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland for instance, Edinburgh Castle looks a little bit wimpish.

            Having said that, Bamburgh Castle doesn't house any Crown Jewels, and as far as I am aware doesn't have gunfire to tell you it's 1.00 pm every day. It's also trickier to get to - unlike Edinburgh Castle which is a shot walk from Princes Street, the city's main thoroughfare.

            There is also the annual festival in August which leads to thousands of people of varying talents visiting the city to perform, many of them on the now fabled Fringe. You sometimes have to take a chance with what you are seeing - a couple of years ago I got tickets to see Simon Amstell for a fiver. Sadly he was very bad that day and had I paid much more I would have seriously considered requesting a refund. I have seen less professional performers in the past put on better shows and it really is pot luck sometimes what you might see depending upon ticket availability and how picky you are.

            During August the strangest of places suddenly become "venues", including the street. You get used to seeing people walking down the street dressed in 18th century garb, or wearing body paint to become an animal. Given the weather, I have to say I sympathised with the girl I saw recently who had been painted to look like a tiger - the only "real" clothing she was wearing was a bikini - brr!

            The city has some wonderful art galleries and museums. I am a huge fan of the National Gallery of Scotland and have also enjoyed the Dean Gallery which is very close to where I live. This gallery is sadly trickier to get to for the tourist with the lack of a decent bus service going past, which is a real shame. Museums include the Museum of Scotland, where a preserved Dolly the Sheep can be viewed, and the Money Museum. There is also the famous zoo, which I have reviewed here separately in the past.

            There are lots of hotels in the city offering an abundance of places to stay ranging from hostel dorms to five star luxury. The city has seen several Travelodges open recently but be warned - everything is expensive in August and booking is essential before arriving during the festival as accommodation is at a premium then.

            ~~What's wrong with Edinburgh~~

            At this point I must apologise, dear reader, for informing you why a visit to the city is really not a good idea until some time in 2011.

            The biggest problem in the city right now is the roadworks. I actually have enormous sympathy for any tourist naïve enough (or should that be daft?) to take their car here. There are road closures aplenty as the city embarks on works for a tramline and the city centre is bearing the brunt of it.

            Princes Street is a deeply unpleasant place at the moment - the road is closed to all traffic and you cannot even enjoy the view over to Princes Street Gardens due to the fencing put up to keep people away from the diggers and other heavy machinery. The noise is also appalling - my daughter who is particularly noise sensitive actually cries if I suggest going there.

            Haymarket is equally awful - this is a major public transport interchange with buses and coaches stopping outside the railway station however you are met with noise, fencing, diversions and temporary traffic lights as you run the gauntlet of crossing the road.

            Buses have been diverted via George Street and bus stops have been removed in the West End, leading to confusion. Some buses, for instance, call at the stop I use near Haymarket, while others do not. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason as to which ones you can catch.

            In addition to the tramworks, new gas mains are being laid throughout the city, causing further disruption in other parts of the city so don't kid yourself it's only the city centre affected unfortunately.

            Another thing I absolutely hate about the place are the so-called "tartan" shops. The vast majority of these shops sell kilts made in Asia and other stuff that can only be described as tat, whilst having speakers located outside with a myriad of bagpipe music with fake percussion blaring out into the street. Quite why the council cannot do something to outlaw this blatant noise pollution I do not know.

            My husband used to always say his favourite sound was the sound of bagpipes fading into the distance and while I am not that offended by the sound of a genuine piper playing in Princes Street Gardens, I am mortally offended by the cacophony one has to endure just to walk down the street from these shops.

            Most of these stores seem to be in units which have been let to the owners on a purely short-term basis, giving the shops a particularly awful appearance as they make do with whatever fittings were in place from the previous let.

            Princes Street is truly a disgrace at the moment and while I hope it will improve in the future with a flagship New Look store and a new Primark pencilled in to open next year, right now it is quite simply hell on earth.

            The council are also involved in a bitter dispute with the binmen, meaning they are currently working to rule with a very strong possibility of all-out strike soon. Some people are not having their rubbish collected for weeks while others, myself included, have barely been affected thus far. I really sympathise with those residents who are having to put up with what is quite clearly a major health hazard and wish the council would do something to bring this dispute to a close. They have brought in private contractors to deal with rubbish in the city centre during the Festival, but I cannot see the unions tolerating this once August is out.

            Then there is the weather. Do not come to Edinburgh expecting balmy summer days - you are far more likely to get cold rain. Winter can be quite simply horrific for bitterly cold winds coming in off the North Sea. If you like the cold and the rain of course, this it the place for you.

            Lastly, there are the locals - who range from quite friendly to downright hostile. Edinburgh folk are renowned for not being particularly warm and I have struggled in the five years I have been here to make any friends. My husband managed to pick up a few from work, but interestingly only one was actually from the city.

            I would also warn against engaging in conversation with some of the locals in less salubrious parts of town. Whilst Edinburgh is the most expensive place to buy a property in Scotland, there are some areas that are, quite frankly, dumps. Whilst parts of Leith have been gentrified, one only has to take a wrong turn to end up at the infamous "Bananae Flats", immortalised in "Trainspotting" for instance.

            Likewise, choose your pub carefully - Rose Street in the City Centre is fine but if you choose to do a pub crawl down at the Shore in Leith, stick to the classier joints. A good rule of thumb in that area is to avoid any pub that is advertising karaoke on a weekend night, or in the case of one Leith pub, a weekend afternoon. If you aren't bothered by restless natives then I do recommend a visit to the Port O Leith pub, which is great for people watching and is very well run.


            There is a lot to love about Edinburgh - honestly! However I would urge anyone considering a break to the city to wait until the tramworks are completed sometime in 2011. They are blighting the whole city and making it a pretty unpleasant place to live in. If you can put up with the noise and the hassle then good for you - but I would heartily recommend you hang fire and instead visit Glasgow if you want a city break in Scotland some time between now and the official tram opening date.

            So do come - but not for a couple of years!

            ***Previously published by me on Ciao under the same user name***


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              15.07.2009 17:49
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              Amazing city, cannot recommend highly enough

              I really cannot say enough good things about Edinburgh. Since my first visit a few years ago, I've been back several times and now can't imagine a year without at least one trip to 'Auld Reekie' (a nickname meaning 'Old Smoky' - in the past when most houses were heated by coal fires, smoke from the chimneys would sit thick in the air above the city).

              The transport to and inside the city is superb; if you're travelling in from Edinburgh Airport, there's a fantastic bus service that drops you off right in the city centre (across the road from Waverley Train Station) for only £3.00 single and £5.00 return. From the same spot you can hop onto one of four bus tours; I would recommend the 'Edinburgh Tour' or 'Mac Tours' which both have similar routes and live tour guides who often throw in their own little anecdotes and are always very chatty and helpful. The 'City Sightseeing Tour' has no live guide but as you board you are given a set or earphones and can listen to a guide in a language of your choice. The fourth tour is 'The Majestic' which takes a different route to the others and brings you a little bit out of the city past the huge Ocean Terminal shopping centre and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Each time I vist Edinburgh I make time for a bus tour, although I hear the same facts and figures over and over again, the breathtaking sights never get old.

              There are too many highlights and attractions to mention in detail and every time I go I always find something new and exciting to do. Here are just a few things to put on your 'must do' list; The Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh Zoo, The National Museum of Scotland, Camera Obscura, and the two events which draw in even more visitors than usual, the Edinburgh Festival in late August / early September, and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, also in August.

              A review of Edinburgh wouldn't be complete without at least a mention of Edinburgh Castle; although I think the entrance tickets are a little pricey at £13.00 each, you can't visit the city without setting foot in the castle that looms over it.

              It's hard to say why I love Edinburgh so much, and my review only touches some of the great things you can do there. It just has such an amazing atmosphere, magnificent architecture, friendly people, and an abundance of things to see and do, and if you get the right weather (which is pot luck in this country) you can sit on a bench in Princes Street Gardens, and people-watch to your heart's content!


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              06.07.2009 00:47
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              I remember when I was a little girl. My Grandma and I would plan days out to Edinburgh and I used to get so excited. She'd pick me up very early in the morning just after Breakfast and we'd take the train through. We'd arrive at Waverly train station and go for a drink and doughnut or cake before we hit the shops. Then we'd go onto Princes street and shop untill we dropped until lunchtime. Then, we'd go for lunch in either John Lewis Cafe, or another department store cafe, or we'd find a nice little italian restaurant to dine in! Then we'd hit the shops again untill 5 o'clock or so, then we'd go to a little newsagents, get a drink and some sweets and head off to the theatre to go and see a show, normally a musical. After the show we'd dine out in a restaurant, before getting the last train home. I always loved those days, and too this day we still try to make it happen around three times a year. I look forward to these outings very much and I don't think I'll ever grow out of them.


              Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and is the second largest City in Scotland. Edinburgh is situated in the South-East of Scotland, and lies along the Firth Of Forth. Edinburgh has been the capital of Scotland since 1437.
              Edinburgh is not only home to the Scottish Parliament, but also to 448,624 people. Edinburgh is also extremely popular with tourists, and every year thousands among thousands of tourists come to visit the city. Edinburgh is famous for many things, including the Edinburgh Festival which comes ever year in the Summer. Another thing Edinburgh is most obviously famous for is its Castle which is the base of many tourists journeys.

              _EDINBURGH FESTIVAL_
              The Edinburgh festival comes every year, from mid-end july til the beggining of September. The Festival first came to Edinburgh in 1947 and has proved to be extremely popular ever since. The festival is very popular with everybody, of all ages and all nationalitys. People come from all over the world just to experience the festival. The festival is jam packed full of things, from street entertainers, theatre, music performances workshops and such like.
              I have been to the Festival every year for the past five or six years ago, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The festival is best on a hot day, as you can stand in the streets watching the entertainers without worrying about keeping dry or keeping cosy. Street entertainers include, magic acts, comedy acts, music performances among others. Theatre ranges from different things, including interactive shows, comedy perfomances, one man shows, musicals and many more. The musicals and such are usually performed my schools from all over the world, and although not proffesional, they are noramally of a very high standard. There are also things such as circuses, dance performances and acrobat/gymnast shows.

              _EDINBURGH CASTLE_
              Edinburgh is well known for its castle. The castle is situated upon Edinburgh Rock, and attracts millions of visitors yearly.Aswell as being a beautiful peice of scenery for tourists, it is also host to many concerts and live performances.
              The gun/cannon which sits on the outside of the castle is fired every day at 1pm, and at hogmany is fired on midnight!
              Hogmany celebrations also take place in and around the castle and this is broadcast on Television. The castle is a great day out for all the family, there is things for all ages to do, and a cafe for when you feel peckish. Although it is a great day out I wouldnt reccomend staying a whole day as it doesnt take that long to experience everything and it can end up being slightly boring for the children.

              Shopping is something I go to Edinburgh to do quite often. Perhaps once every 4 months or so. There is a huge range of shops, from fashionable and modern shops, to furnature and house shops, to more cultural stalls and kiosks selling traditional scottish things.
              One of the main places to shop is Princes street, often mistaken as Princess street. Princes Street is a shoppers paradise, featuring many well known shops. There are clothes shops, such as, Zara, Monsoon, Accessorize, Wallis and much more. There are also the beauty shops such as Lush! The more common shops, including Boots, Marks and Spencers etc and then there are various book shops, gift shops and so on! Princes street can get extremely busy on weekends, however I think this adds to the whole experience and atmosphere.
              The Princes Mall, is an Indoor shopping centre, a 30 second walk from Waverly station. This is home to various fast food outlets down stairs, and many shops, such as the Body Shop, New Look, Kookai, and very many more. This is in the middle of getting re-furbished and there are rooms for various different shops!
              The St, James shopping centre is just off Princess Street and again is home to many more shops, this time such as Next, River Island, Quiz, Early Learning Centre and many more. There is also a Thorntons at the front door, which on hot days is heaving with people buying delicious ice creams! Edinburgh is also home to various other big shops, such as Toys R Us, Ikea etc.

              One of my favourite theatres in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Playhouse. The 'Playhouse is always hosting shows. These vary but they are normally musicals. In recent years shows such as Joseph and Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Mama Mia, High School Musical and Cats have been shown here. The theatre is an old building yet very comfortable.
              The Kings theatre is another theatre in Edinburgh, famous for its annual pantomimes.

              _EATING OUT_
              Edinburgh is home to some wonderful restaurants and cafes. I am partial to eating in an Italian restaurant and they are usually of very high standards. I can thoroughly reccomend Al Fresco, as the service was fabulous and the food was to die for. They do a brillaint mushroom, pepperoni and ham pizza! There are Chinese restaurants, to name but one; Jimmy Chungs in Edinburgh- Chinese buffet restaurants where you can eat as much as you like for about £7. When out with my friends, we usually go here as its a friendly environment and its usually quite noisy, but not 'headachingly' so. I have also been to a beautiful Thai place, just off the street in which the Edinburgh Playhouse is on. Its a relaxed atmosphere and they do delicious stir frys and such like. I had the sweet and sour stir fry and it was very delicious. There are also various pubs and hotels which cater for everyones needs. The food ranges from very posh food, things like posh seafood cocktails and such, to the more tempting, burgers and chips, and maccaroni cheese.
              If your not looking for a meal, but rather just a snack, there are some beautiful little cafes spread all over Edinburgh. There are the regulars such as Starbucks, Costa Coffee etc, but there are also some dinky little cafes serving homemade warm homemade apple pie and yummy hot chocolates. In short, if in Edinburgh you feel peckish, you are in no danger of going hungry as there are plenty to chose from.

              It would take too long to list _EVERYTHING_ in Edinburgh, but all I can say is, if you're thinking about visiting it would definitly be worth the journey. It can get very busy in Summer so if you dont like crowds Id reccomend coming in October/November time. Edinburgh is also famous for its fireworks, I cant exactly remember WHEN these are but they get very good reviews,and are apparantly worth the late night!!


              The weather in Edinburgh can vary. In the height of summer temperatures can soar, however you can never be too sure and so its probably best to take a jacket with you just in case. In winter/autum time, it can be extremely cold and windy, with a high risk of showers, or downpours!

              Edinburgh is very good when it comes to transport. There are trainstations dotted around so its never to hard to get in! Buses are very regular aswell, and go all over the city. You can also go on a city tour, on a tour bus for quite alow price. This is usually very popular with tourists. Taxi's can be found whereever you are so your never a far cry from a lift!
              Edinburgh is also home to an Airport, the Airport in which we usually use.


              All round, I love Edinburgh. Sometimes I do find it too busy, espescially in the summer, however Im not going to stop visiting as I find the atmostphere is electric.

              SweetTooth 93.
              Also on ciao under the same name!


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                10.06.2009 15:30
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                Edinburgh is a vibrant city with a lot to offer everyone - just bring an umbrella!

                I remember the first time I came to Edinburgh. I caught the train from my hometown and alighted at Edinburgh Waverley. The station is smack in the centre of the city - you get off the train and emerge onto Princes Street, the main shopping street in the city. I have been to very few cities with such a well-placed central station.

                Coming out of the station, you are faced with the side of the world-famous Balmoral Hotel and its beautiful clock tower. Immediately, it becomes apparent that this city is something special. The buildings are gorgeous - everywhere you look there is architecture that is hugely interesting.

                Princes Street is a little like any other high street. There is the famous Jenners store, although now owned by House of Fraser and shops that you would expect to find in a cosmopolitan and modern city. Behind Princes Streets is George Street - the place to find the more high-end fashion stores and designer boutiques. Edinburgh has a Harvey Nichols store on Multree Walk with all of the designer goods that come with the store - there are also Louis Vuitton, Armani, Mulberry stores on this street, making it one of the most exclusive in the city.

                Moving away from the shopping, the city is split into two main architectural districts - the Old Town and the New Town. The New Town is a world heritage site and probably the best example of Georgian architecture outside Bath. The Old Town has winding streets and is stacked full of history. Obviously the Castle cannot be ignored and one of the major streets in the Old Town is the Royal Mile that connects the Castle and Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Scotland. The Castle is a major tourist attraction and there are regular tours around it as well as the one o'clock cannon that is fired every day.

                Holyrood Palace is also open to the public and just across the road is the new Scottish Parliament. The parliament building is in stark contrast to the conservative nature of the palace but both are beautiful in their own way and both are definitely not to be missed.

                There are regular bus tours around the city with guides pointing out the main sights to see but I find wandering around the city and finding hidden gems off the beaten track is much more rewarding. The Royal Botanic Garden is well worth a visit and indeed could be an entire day in itself! It is situated in the New Town and is the best way to relax after a day of shopping/ sightseeing.

                If you arrive other than by train, Edinburgh Airport is situated a little outside the city but there is a regular bus shuttle service for a couple of pounds that will drop you into the centre of the city - ironically at the train station!

                There are countless restaurants and bars throughout the city. My personal favourite restaurant is Petit Paris on the Grassmarket in the Old Town - it is a gorgeous little French restaurant with French staff and the best French food this side of Paris. George Street is well known for having many high-end bars and footballers from the local teams as well as local celebrities can often be spotted in these bars on a weekend.

                It is just this that makes me love Edinburgh so much. The mixture of the old and new ... Old Town/New Town, Georgian Architecture/cutting-edge bars and restaurants, history & culture/modernity and cosmopolitan. The castle and the palace and the lilted-accented Morningside give one impression but an entirely different Edinburgh exists in the annual Arts festival/fringe festival and in the novels of Ian Rankin and films like Trainspotting. Every aspect of Edinburgh is valid and every aspect makes it the city that it is.

                I loved this city so much during my visits that I chose to come to university in Edinburgh and I never left. Edinburgh feels like my home more than the place where I grew up and spent my childhood. I think it almost becomes part of you and it is impossible to leave once you have let it in.


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                  07.04.2009 20:22
                  Very helpful



                  I'm a lucky girl to study in such a wonderful city!

                  During my final year of school I was walking along South Bridge hand in hand with a romantic interest towards the vista that is the grand old Register House on Princes Street. It was a mild autumn night, the buildings and train station glistened with light. It was just beautiful and so utterly relaxing and it was during that walk that I entirely made up my mind that Edinburgh university was my first choice university. Three years later, whilst I might have been a little disillusioned about university life I certainly wasn't disillusioned about Edinburgh...

                  *~It's like Sim City up here!~*

                  So in the current economic climate you may possibly want to stick about in old Blighty as the value of the pound is enough to make you sick. I do suggest a trip to Edinburgh should you decide to stay. On the downside, you may liken it more to Sim City than Athens of the North at the moment. Numerous buildings are being built or redone, there's extensive tram works down Princes street and as I write this sentence right now in the National Library of Scotland, I can feel the vibrations of drilling from the floor below. There's no escape! Every finished project is met with a sigh of relief, bit by bit revealing a much prettier and less chaotic capital. Even so, if you can put up with a little inconvenience, Edinburgh is still architecturally gorgeous and the best sites tend to be scaffold free.
                  I write this after spending a day waltzing around in the sunshine. I love grand architecture of the old buildings and the fact that the Old Town, particularly that surrounding the Royal Mile, retains the layout of bygone years. The Royal Mile is the prime tourist street that runs all the way up hill to the Castle. It's quaintly cobbled and numerous shops and restaurants line it (some of them very touristy of course). The David Hume statue always makes me smile. Not really the most attractive man in real life, he sits swathed magnificently with a toga as if he was a philosopher of Antiquity himself.
                  Cars aren't generally allowed access to the Royal Mile and so it becomes a great space for exhibitionists during the festival. During the month of August the Royal Mile really comes to life and if you can cope with being flyered by a 'forest' of leaflets then it really is worth a visit during the festival. You can pick up ideas for shows here and even if you can't afford any shows it really is pretty entertaining. In the past, I have been entertained by numerous dancers, jugglers and singers of all sorts. The contortionist we came across really stood out for me as he quite gruesomely dislocated his back before our eyes as he made a Houdini-style attempt to get out of a straight jacket (he was to disgust Simon Cowell and Co only months later with his act on 'Britain's Got Talent.)
                  Alongside the Royal Mile are some excellent little shortcuts to other places via the little closes, a distinctive feature of the Old Town which I don't think I've seen in any other city. Now I'm going to bore you with some history but what some people may not know is that before the late seventeenth century, Edinburgh was a tiny little city. Desiring for protection, everyone crammed themselves within the confines of the city walls. Instead of expanding outwards, Edinburgh for a while expanded upwards (and downwards). Therefore, in this densely packed area emerged some of the first multi-storey tenements. Even if it was downright unhygienic it left a unique mark on the city. Admittedly, many of the closes that weave underneath the buildings retain the sweet smell of p*** and stale booze and the steep hills and steps mean the less mobile probably want to take an easier route around the city. However, if you can bear faint unpleasant smells and uphill walks then you should go for a wander along these passage ways.

                  The rest of the city is also absolutely stunning. On the Princes street side of the city you can find the expensive New Town. Along with many of the architectural structures and constructions within the City, this was an eighteenth century development - probably because they finally realised, the aninity of it all, that maybe there was just a touch too many people in the centre of town and they began to expand outwards. Moreover, the elite of the city wished to physically distance themselves from the 'riff raff' of society and move into their own grand residences. Ok, so enough with the history lesson. It may be gorgeous to look at but what can you do in the burgh?

                  *~GET CULTURED~*

                  The great thing about Edinburgh is that it's such a compact city that most things are within short walking distance but should you ever need to travel any distance the bus service is relatively cheap at only £1.20 for adults one way in any direction (apart from the airport bus) and there's usually plenty of taxis about. Now, I'm not going to tell you about everything you can do in Edinburgh - there's just too much to do. However, I thought I'd let you know about my favourite and some of the most famous attractions.

                  ~The Castle~

                  Of course you can't visit the capital without visiting the Castle. Definitely worth a visit for those with any interest in history and you can get some stunning views up there. Unfortunately I really hate the prices at the Castle particularly as they only offer concessions to the unemployed and pensioners - students have to pay the full £12.00! And word of warning - The 1 o'clock gun is louder than you think... To diverge slightly, my friend apparently heard the most hilarious conversation about the Castle, not long ago, between two Americans on Princes Street: 'Isn't it just so handy that they built the castle so close to the train station...?' From a nation where you can convince some that haggises are actually creatures hopping about the Highlands I would not be surprised if this was true...

                  ~Chamber Street Museum (aka the National Museum of Scotland)~

                  My dad used to take me here as a kid and it summons up a fondness and nostalgia within me whenever I walk within its grand entrance hall which looked so massive when I was so tiny. A wonderful museum which provides an insight into cultures all over the world, from the ancient to the more recent. I particularly love their taxidermic (and fake) animals. They even have a stuffed Dodo. The best thing about this place is it is absolutely free.

                  ~Museum of Childhood~

                  This is another free exhibition. It holds a small charming collection of children's toys, dress and other paraphernalia of children's past lives and I found it absolutely fascinating.

                  ~The Galleries~

                  Edinburgh certainly is a city of culture and there's plenty of galleries to visit. I particularly love the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in the New Town. Many of the portraits there are brilliant and I always find it interesting to look at pictures of well-known persons or just to gather an insight into how people in the past looked.

                  ~The Dark Side of Edinburgh~

                  If you have a good knowledge of Edinburgh's history you'll know of its dark past. A city with a split-personality, it inspired the city setting of R.L Stevenson's 'Jekyll and Hyde'. Behind the facade of its grand buildings inhabits a grizzly 'underworld' or at least the remnants of one. Some of the attractions give you the opportunity to explore this. There are numerous ghost tours which take you underneath the city vaults. Not only did Edinburgh's residents once live in high tenements but the overcrowding problem forced many of its poorest residents to go underground to live in the notorious city vaults. First built within the infrastructure of the 'bridges' that make up Edinburgh, these vaults were initially meant to used for shop storage and workshops. When these began to flood, businesses moved out of the vaults and various poor persons took residence there. Living conditions were terrible - dank, damp, overcrowded and downright dirty. Disreputable activity set up shop here with criminal activity and prostitution rife. Burke and Hare were even said to operate here picking off their victims from amongst these unfortunate souls. The human suffering experienced in the vaults has supposedly marked it with much paranormal presence. By the late nineteenth century the vaults were entirely closed off but in the late twentieth century were excavated and eventually used for ghost walks. I've been on one these ghost walks. I can't say I experienced a ghostly presence but it is definitely creepy down there and I wouldn't let myself wander too far from the group. Another worthwhile ghostly attraction is Mary Kings Close. I haven't actually been there yet but I've been told it is made of underground closes that are supposedly haunted and stories state that plague victims may have been walled up there.

                  ~The Festival~

                  Edinburgh has a great selection of theatres and there's always shows running to go see. However, the best time to visit for theatrical events is during the month of August when the Edinburgh Fringe and International Festival take place. Edinburgh really comes alive during this month and it is rather exciting to visit at this time. There's hundreds of shows on, there's an increasing chance you'll spot someone famous and most clubs open up till 5am. I've had the advantage to have a flat in Edinburgh for the past two summers to enjoy this festival. Whether you are a performer or a theatre lover, this festival is simply wonderful.

                  ~Edinburgh at Christmas and Hogmanay~

                  Edinburgh is an even more magical place to visit in winter. Princes Street is lit up with tasteful Christmas lights, there is a Christmas market, a fairground and even an ice rink. If you can bother to bear the cold, it's really quite lovely...


                  I'm not much of a fan of shopping and prefer to buy stuff online even in Edinburgh but there are some wonderful and interesting places to shop in Edinburgh. I particularly enjoy the shops along Cockburn Street (pronounced 'Co-burn' ^_^) which have an ecletic mix of interesting, alternative shops. It's less than a minute away from the station too. I also rather like Armstrongs - a vintage clothing shop which can be found on the Grassmarket. You'd probably be better, however, going to Glasgow if you love your shopping as Edinburgh doesn't have the best selection of shops.

                  *~EDINBURGH NIGHTLIFE~*

                  Whilst Glasgow is known for having the best nightlife, Edinburgh's pubs and clubs are also pretty good. I'm more of a pubs and bar person myself but I do go to clubs too. Here are a selection of my favourite places:

                  ~The Hive~ The Hive is a club which I love because it plays rock and alternative music on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. I particularly love Misfits on a Friday night which has free entry before 11.30pm (£4 thereafter). Drinks are cheap here and they've just recently extended their range of drinks with a cocktail bar in the backroom.

                  ~Opium~ Opium is a rock bar not far from the Hive. It can be absurdly busy during the weekend which is annoying as you can't get a seat. The music is great here however and it stays open until 3am. Drinks are cheap and there's a karaoke on Monday night which is always a laugh.

                  ~Brass Monkey~ This is a pub...with a giant BED! I adore this place. You can kick back with your friends in a room which is basically a giant bed full of cushions and a special tables for this set up. It has some great quirky film decor in this room and the ambience of it strikes me of one thing - hippies and a luxurious opium den. It usually has excellent music, nice cocktails and they screen a film at 3pm every day. Buy a round of drinks and you may even get to chose what that film is.

                  ~Jekyll and Hyde~ A gothic themed pub that can be found in New Town but definitely better than Frankenstein's. They also do nice cocktails (I'm quite the cocktail drinker) and I love the 'horror film' decor. Good luck on finding the toilet though if you're drunk. I take great pleasure in not telling people where the toilet is in this bar when they first visit. Not necessarily because I'm mean but because of their expression when they discover it's pretty much hidden behind a mock bookcase.

                  ~Cabaret Voltaire~ Cab Vol is a great place for seeing some smaller bands play. I saw Elliot Minor here when they were starting out and thoroughly enjoyed it. A nice intimate venue that does club nights as well.

                  ~The Library Bar~ This bar is actually part of Edinburgh University's union building, the Teviot. It was a library recently converted into a bar and is rather swish looking. It was also classy enough to be used as a venue for the likes of Kiera Knightly during the Edinburgh film festival.

                  ~Revolution~ I am a fan of vodka and mixers and this bar does some great vodka cocktails along with other concoctions. If you're feeling adventurous you may wish to try the porridge vodka shot for a pound.

                  *~Too many things to do!~*

                  I have already gone on quite a bit about what you can do in Edinburgh but I must stop here. There is too much to do. The active may fancy a wander up Arthurs Seat or Calton Hill. The Beltane Fire Festival is held on Calton Hill (30th April this year). Introduced in the 80s a friend told me that this festival used to be pretty mad. Lots of naked frolicking and well...somewhat more 'risque' activity before the locals put a stop to matters. However, having cleaned up since I've been told the festival is a delight and should exams not get in the way intend to go this year. Amongst other things to visit there is the zoo, the Scott Monument, the Rosyln Chapel, the Camera Obscura, Greyfriars Kirk (the resting place of Greyfriars Bobby), the Botanic Gardens, Portobello Beach (preferably on a sunny day)...I could go on and on... I can say, however, that there is one place you may wish to avoid...

                  ~The Scottish Parliament - Do go down and visit Holyrood Palace but ignore the ghastly building you may see from a distance. Yes, it does look like a bunch of school kids got their holds on the design plans and yes, that does look like bits of bamboo stuck to the side. If the leaders of Scotland can approve of such a mad (and expensive) design this further supports my views that Scottish independence just shouldn't happen. Sometimes I dispair over modern architecture. Apparently it's rather pretty inside but it's a shame they made such a mess of the outside. Just pretend its a pretentious 'new age' set of business premises and not one of Scotland's million pound embarrassments.

                  *~PLACES TO EAT~*

                  Being a city there are lots of wonderful places to eat but here are a selection of places I recommend, keeping in mind that I am a student and don't tend to eat at fancy places or eat out that often...

                  ~Jimmy Chungs~ I've already reviewed Jimmy Chungs fairly recently but this chinese restaurant can be quite handy if you are pretty hungry and up by Lothian Road (for the Grindlay Street one). I would probably never go to the Waverley one because it's so busy and can be more expensive. But definitely cheap with a good selection.

                  ~Chinois~ This is actually another Chinese buffet restaurant that I actually prefer to Jimmy Chungs and can be found in the Omni Centre at the top of Leith Walk (near Princes Street and below the Vue Cinema) The food is just yummy!

                  ~Monster Mash~ A cheap cheerful place that sells traditional British fare - mash in particular, as suggested by its name. Its a lovely wee retro place with tasty versions of well-known comfort foods. I particularly love their haggis, neeps and tatties. The staff are also great here - a friendly eccentric bunch.

                  ~Frankenstein's~ Frankenstein's is another gothic themed pub. I like to go here because, as students, my friends and I can get buy one get one free meals with the Frankenstein's card they offer and there's even 'free food Tuesday' (if you buy drinks you get free food!). The food is tasty and they do have deals on particular days for non-students such as 2-for-1 fajitas on a Wednesday.

                  ~The Elephant House~The Elephant House is a cafe on George IV that does capitalize on the fact that J.K Rowling spent some of her time writing the first Harry Potter novels here. However, it is a charming place that sells good food and is a nice place to go for lunch as they sell some lovely paninis and baked potatoes.

                  ~Black Medicine Coffee Co~ I've only been here a few times but I love it. My friend and I particularly enjoyed their paninis and smoothies and the atmosphere in this place is very nice.

                  ~The Dome~This is the one posh place I have been which I came across under amusing circumstances. I was on a date with a guy that ended up extending overnight (I crashed *alone* on his sofa bed after watching many episodes of Black Books with him). In the morning he suggested we go somewhere to eat. Thinking he'd take me somewhere cheap, cheerful and studenty, it was much to my horror that he took me to the posh and grand restaurant that is 'The Dome'. Having slept on his sofa overnight I looked a little bit on the rough side...at least for a place that had a massive chandelier in the entrance hall. But then again, I forgot that this guy was kinda' rich. I didn't pay for a single thing - I don't think I could. For a start, he bought me a fancy sandwich which cost about £9 (!!). I looked around at the elegant ladies and well-dressed businessmen around me and encouraged him to ask for a table in the corner. What made the date even more mortifying was when he asked me if I would like to go on another date - I didn't fancy him at all and found him rather dull (Money can't buy you love indeed). A fancy place with excellent high quality food but definitely a place for when I have a better income.

                  *~A Place to Stay~*

                  I can't really comment on this matter because I do have a flat in Edinburgh but I know where I'd like to stay. One day when I have lots more pennies (wedding night maybe?) I'd love to stay in the Witchery. It looks gorgeous. The rooms are gothic, luxurious and utterly romantic. However, it is £295 a night and has been visited by various celebrities (Matt Groening, Dannii Minogue, Ewan McGregor, etc). A girl can dream...

                  *~The People~*

                  Well of course you'll find lovely people like me but I find that us Edinburgh dwellers are rather pleasant people. Of course, Edinburgians do have the reputation of being rather uppity and posh and it's quite amazing how Anglicized the city is - a lot of English accents can be heard in what is the capital of Scotland (not that I have anything against the English - I just find it rather strange). I would say that it is a rather posh city with some rather posh people. However, after working at Tesco you'll find that there are some rather rough and entirely unposh people about (a few who aren't quite acquainted with baths and showers lol)
                  Edinburgh is great because you feel so much safer when you walk about at night than in other places in Scotland (Glasgow for example). I don't mean that you should be completely relaxed about your belongings and personal protection but it does feel so much nicer here. And man am I pleased you don't come across many Neds (Chavs to you English folk). I come from Ned-ville (one of the blokes from my town was the first to get an ASBO) so Edinburgh was such a contrast.

                  *~AND FINALLY!~*

                  I realise I have said quite A LOT about going out and about in Edinburgh so I really must stop here. All I can say is that Edinburgh is a wonderful city which I'd love to stay in after university and is definitely a great place to visit. It is after all the place that influenced many authors included R.L Stevenson (in his writing of Jekyll and Hyde) and J.K Rowling (who found that the historical setting really stirred her imagination). It has also provided wonderful settings for films like 'Driving Lessons' (featuring Rupert Grint and Julie Walters) and 'Hallem Foe' (starring Jamie Bell). A beautiful city even with recent construction work, I only wish I didn't have to study so much and actually had the time to go out and explore it more often.

                  *~Thanks for reading this mammoth review :) x~*

                  *~Also published on Ciao under 'Renza' - April 2009~*


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                    12.01.2009 03:55



                    one weekend never enough

                    Scotland's capital city situated on the east coast of Scotland by the firth of forth. Edinburgh has everything that a major city should plus lots more. It is a major tourist attraction all year round. Summertime sees the city hold the famous Edinburgh festival when hundreds of venues play host to every type of show you can imagine from those that are free to the master fot hem all the Military Tattoo held at the famous Edinburgh Castle. Wintertime brings the German market and the winter wonderland which transforms part of the Princes street gardens into a mini german market with ice rink and amusements. You can pay a visit for mulled wine and beer along with some stollen cake. Princes street and George street are the two main shopping areas but the smaller shops along the royal mile and around morningside and over the bridges are well worth a visit.

                    The best way to see some of what the city has to offer is by taking one of the many guided bus tours that allow you to gt off an on whenever you want.

                    There are hundreds of places to stay ranging from youth hostels to the 5 star sheraton on lothian road if you are feeling like treating yourself. The grill room at the sheraton is a treat not to be missed. Another must do retaurant at the top end of the price market is the witchery, make sue you book though to avoid disappointment.

                    One of the best places to go for a weekend break - you will need to reutrn to fit everything in


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                    27.10.2008 20:21
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                    Lively city with plenty to do!

                    Edinburgh is a fantastic lively city and makes a great weekend destination for all people.

                    I lived there for 5 years and will write about it from that point of view. You can arrive into Edinburgh by bus, train or airplane. The airport is 25 minutes from the city and the last stop is North Bridge (just off Princes Street). Both the bus and train station are centrally located and there are taxi ranks outside both to transport you to your destination of choice. The city bus system in Edinburgh is excellent, with Princes Street being the hub, and where most buses operate from.

                    Where to stay:

                    If you want to splash out and stay in the city centre I would advise staying at The Scotsman. It is a 5 star hotel housed within the former Scotsman newspaper building. I have never stayed there but was part of their gym and it is swish! The leisure facilities are excellent, with a relaxing pool and a beauty salon with cowshed products.


                    The best place to stay in Leith is the Malmaison. It is a beautiful building and situated in trendy Leith with loads of pubs and restaurants on your doorstep. The number 22 bus is a 5 minute walk and brings you right into the centre of Edinburgh (Princes Street). They run every 5-10 minutes.


                    Where to eat:

                    La Favorita - a beautiful pizza and pasta restaurant. The prices are very reasonable and it is a good place for a group of people or a couple as it is very lively.


                    The Vintner Rooms - if you want to spoil that special someone in your life then bring them here. It is situated in Leith and has a stunning menu and ambience. It is more for couples and don't forget to bring your credit card! It is one of the best restaurants I have ever eaten in.


                    Where to drink:

                    Sofis - when you enter into this pub it feels like you are having a drink in your best friend's sitting room. It is so relaxed and they also have frulli beer. A big positive for me.


                    The Street - it is a gay-friendly bar and has fantastic music and DJs most weekends. This is great pre-club bar as it is always busy and the music is usually pumping!


                    What to do:

                    Bus tour - it is really good and leaves from North Bridge. It stops at all the major city landmarks and also tells about the gruesome past in the city.

                    Edinburgh castle - you can see the castle from Princes Street and you can also walk up to it and get a great view of Edinburgh. I wouldn't bother paying in unless you are really into castles as the view is just as good from outside.

                    Edinburgh Dungeon - good fun and also gives you an idea about the history of Edinburgh, told in a funny way.


                    Edinburgh loves its festivals. There is Hogmanay (New Year), which consists of a fun-filled party on the streets.

                    Edinburgh Festival - during the month of August Edinburgh is party central and you can see comedians, theatre, musicals and gigs. Not to be missed!

                    My favourite areas

                    Leith - it is a young and trendy part of Edinburgh. There are lots of pubs, restaurants and quirky shops such as Flux (Bernard Street)


                    Morningside and Bruntsfield

                    These run into each other and are known as the rich part of Edinburgh. There are lots of organic shops, art shops and posh jewellers. It is like entering a new world.


                    It is also known as a rich part of Edinburgh and has a real villagey feel. There are lots of quirky shops there as well and the very nice Avoca pub (4-6 Dean St) which serves really tasty pub grub.

                    You can also check out: www.edinburgh.org for more information about what is on and where to stay!


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                      08.01.2008 16:02
                      Very helpful



                      The Scottish Capital City

                      I've been lucky enough to take a short break in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh for the last few years. I say lucky because Edinburgh is one of my all time favourite cities. I have been at all times of the year and never tire of it and always manage to discover something new. In November, I spent 3 days there along with my husband to celebrate our wedding anniversary.

                      ***Getting Around***
                      I find the best way to explore the city is on foot. Unlike many capitals, Edinburgh is small enough to allow you to do this, albeit hilly. If you want to venture out of the centre, Edinburgh has a great bus network and a day saver ticket can be bought for £2.50. There is also the Edinburgh tour bus plus guide that will take you to all the places of interest within the city for £9. A further £3 will allow you to travel on 3 more buses one of which will take you to Leith and The Royal Yacht Britannia. Another "Horrible Histories" endeavours to create a gruesome tour and is great for children. Family tickets and concessions are available.

                      There are hundreds of things to see and do so I've only highlighted those from my most recent stay. No visit would be complete without seeing the castle. It had been some years since my last visit and so I decided to pay another call. The castle dominates the city. For 3000 years people have sought shelter on the castle rock. In Ancient times they called it "Din Eidyn", the stronghold of Eidyn. Then came the invading Angles, around 638AD, and ever since the rock has been known by its English name, Edinburgh. In the Middle Ages Edinburgh became Scotland's chief royal castle, enduring siege after siege during the long wars with England. By the time of King James VI's birth here in 1566, the castle was effectively little more than a garrison fortress. The Jacobite siege in 1745 proved to be the last. Since that time, the ancient fortress has found new roles, a national symbol of Scotland, major visitor attraction and World Heritage Site, but still with its compliment of soldiers. The castle offers so much with its towers, Royal Palace, vaults and Great Hall and great views of the city that you need to allow yourself a couple of hours to see it all which is reflected in its entrance fee of £12.

                      Although I've been to Edinburgh many times, it was on this visit that I discovered "Mary King's Close". Hidden deep beneath the Royal Mile lies Edinburgh's deepest secret; a warren of hidden streets where real people lived, worked and died. This award winning attraction is no stage set or work of fiction but a totally unique historic place. It is a strange dark underground site, a time capsule of town houses and rooms situated off 4 main streets including Mary King's Close, that date back to the 1600s. Taken round by a character guide who revealed both fascinating and emotional stories of human life as we were shown round this historic site. So many times have I walked the Royal Mile without realising what lay beneath. The cost was around £10 and was worth every penny, a truly unforgettable experience. Advance booking required.

                      One of the newest attractions to the city is Our Dynamic Earth and was sold to us as "Edinburgh's Millennium Landmark project" This state of the art attraction again wasn't cheap at £11 per person. This is an interactive museum telling the story of planet earth using the latest interactive technology and special effects. It concentrates on the creation of life; a time machine takes you back to witness meteor showers and of a barren newly formed planet. Watch volcanoes erupt, feel the earth shake and smell the sulphur. Next the Ice Age, the evolution of man and so on until we arrive at life today. The ever present green issues such as the decline of rain forests and climate change are brought to our attention. At the end of the tour, strapped in seats in a spaceship looking out to the stars is the final interactive experiment. When asked various environmental questions, press the green button for one answer and red for the alternative to see the outcome. The blurb will tell you that the tour takes around 90 minutes. This is aimed at parties with young children, We did it in half of that. The attraction is marketed for all ages but I wouldn't recommend it for an adult's only party or one of older children.

                      In order to balance the cost, Edinburgh offers quite a few free attractions. The beautiful Botanic Gardens are one of my favourites. No matter what time of year, the gardens are wonderful throughout the seasons and with nearly 70 acres to explore, play and picnic areas you can spend as much time there as you like. We were blessed with bright sunny weather during our stay at the end of October/ beginning of November and something I had always wanted to do was to climb Arthur's Seat. Donning good walking shoes, we climbed the 250 metres to the summit of this inactive volcano. The views were well worth the effort. A full panorama of the city, the Firth of Forth and the Pentland Hills looked splendid in the late autumn sunshine.

                      If you are keen on art then a visit to the Scottish National Gallery is a must. The Scottish section houses works by Allan Ramsay and Henry Raeburn and the main Titian and El Greco. The main purpose for our visit this time was to see Bottecelli's " The birth of Venus" which was on loan to the museum for a few weeks. The gallery can take you a couple of hours to get round, has an excellent coffee shop and restaurant and is free. Highly recommended by Picasso, i.e. me!

                      I have of course to mention the Royal Mile, as it is somewhere you just can't miss. I have spent days walking up and down it. A great way to work off those Scottish breakfasts too. The Mile and the vibrant streets off it are the tourist hub of the Edinburgh. Lined with Medieval tenements, packed with gift shops, cafes and museums, this is the first port of call for most visitors and I love it.

                      Edinburgh has all the major chain shops plus large department stores including House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols. There are a large number of shops selling local crafts, Edinburgh rock, Scottish shortbread, wool and tartan. I've lost count of the number of whisky shops most of which offer free tasting. On the Royal Mile you can by Christmas decorations all year round from one of its two busy Christmas shops. My favourite though is Jenners on Princess Street. Jenners is the worlds oldest independent department store and was founded in 1838. Although the store has now unfortunately been sold to House of Fraser, this six-floor building has maintained its old-fashioned courtesy, atmosphere and décor.

                      With hundreds of eateries in Edinburgh, the hardest part of dining out is choosing where. A favourite of mine is The Tower at the top of the Museum of Scotland, which serves excellent food and has fantastic views of the castle. On this stay we dined at the Pompadour, the Caledonian Hotel's restaurant which allegedly has the best views in Edinburgh from table 5. (Our table) For atmosphere, I don't think you can beat The Witchery by the castle. Lit by candlelight only, the black and dark red furnishings made our dining experience a truly memorable one on a dark November evening. There are quite a number of vegetarian restaurants and on our final night which had a wonderful meal at the trendy David Bann.

                      For lighter bites, Plasir du Chocalat is a must for chocoholics or try the warm treacle scones at The Story Telling Café. Both situated on the Royal Mile.

                      ***Places to stay***
                      There are literally hundreds of places to stay. From Bed and Breakfasts to the five star Balmoral Hotel. There are Travel/Premier Lodges all over the city. We got a good deal at my favourite hotel, the Caledonian. £129 per night for a standard room when staying 2 or more nights. This included their fabulous breakfast (see separate review "No earplugs required) and the dinner on the first night.

                      ***Summing up***
                      Edinburgh is a wonderful city and one that I will hopefully return to many more times. Whatever the weather there you will always find something to see and do. The food is excellent tending to be sourced locally in most restaurants. There are attractions for all ages, interests and all budgets. I haven't come across a city especially a capital one that has so many attractions that are free. I have yet to visit for the Edinburgh Tattoo and I would just love to spend New Year's Eve there. Whether it's hustle and bustle or peace and quiet you want, Edinburgh has it all.

                      Edinburgh - my favourite Scottish city!


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                        27.06.2007 20:06
                        Very helpful



                        A day trip is not long enough to see this city.

                        This particular review has been one heck of a long time in the pipeline. Last autumn, we had a wonderful weekend in Edinburgh, thinking about it on the long drive home it had been my intention to sit down the following week and knock out a “hot off the press” review of our experiences there. Sometimes however, that does not make for the best review and the more that I thought about this subject, the more difficult a one I found it to actually approach.

                        Yes, writing a “Hometown in General” type review is easy enough, especially, if like me, you have lived in that town for over four decades. Writing a “My Holiday in Exotica” review too is simple enough, lots of sea, sun, sand, and …… well, we won’t go there right now if you don’t mind!

                        However, a flying visit to a big city is a far trickier subject, especially if it is to a world renowned city, such as Edinburgh, London or any of the other European capitals. They are simply too big and complex a subject to cover in one “General” review, neither was this a proper holiday, spent over a week or two, in which we could really get under the skin of the place.

                        It would therefore be insulting to the many of you who actually live there, or nearabouts, for me to attempt to write any kind of authoritative review on Scotland’s capital.

                        There is an additional twist to this particular review in that we were invited to stay by, and shared all of the following experiences with, two fellow reviewers who live in the area. The “twist” is that this review has to separate their wonderful and extraordinarily generous hospitality from our actual experiences of Edinburgh itself. It is all too easy to become carried away in great company and to see the gloss rather than the reality of the place that you have come to see.

                        Without naming names, I dedicate this review to the pair of them, for aiding my wife and I with our most enjoyable excursion of 2006.


                        In all honesty, had it not been for my Polish wife, wishing to see Edinburgh, it would probably have been a very long time before I would have re-visited the city. My previous experiences there were not particularly happy ones.

                        I have visited Edinburgh on two previous occasions, back in the 1990’s – again as a day tripper. Both times - firstly in July, then in October - the weather had been grey and cold, leaving me with a rather grim impression of this being a grey city under an even more grey sky.

                        On the first occasion I parked the car for a day in a multi-storey car park, walked my feet off around this very hilly city and then could not find it again. No, not the car, I had lost the entire car park! Fortunately it was a pay on foot NCP car park – I had the ticket in my wallet and another NCP car park attendant was able to give me directions (to the other side of the city) in order that I could retrieve my car!

                        Laugh at me if you will, but, due to its hills and alleyways, Edinburgh can be a rather disorientating place, even for one with an A level in geography!

                        That was October, two years later I came to Lieth Docks to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia – the first year that it opened to the public, in July, the weather was pretty miserable, but, nonetheless, Edinburgh was choked with tourists and traffic. No danger of loosing the car on that occasion. There was not one parking space to be had in the whole city! I spent half an hour sitting in Princes Street (the main thoroughfare then, for those who do not know Edinburgh) in choking traffic fumes…...

                        ……I carried on driving, not to return until Friday 13th October, 2006.

                        On that day we enjoyed a visit to the Forth Bridge and the Royal Yacht, both of which have been reviewed elsewhere, followed by a chauffeured tour in the car of the centre of Edinburgh. Whilst never the most relaxed of passengers, I have to confess that from the passenger seat I took in far more of this splendid city and its architecture and found myself warming to it, whereas previously it had left me more than cold.

                        With apologies then, to all of you Scots loyal to Edinburgh, but, I had always preferred Glasgow, it appearing to me a more honest “working” city, less dependant on, and infested by, tourists…….

                        ……Like the Richada’s here about to tread the well trodden tourist beat!

                        GETTING INTO THE CITY CENTRE

                        Edinburgh is far from traffic friendly and unless you are escorted by locals “in the know” as we were privileged to be, then I would heartily recommend using one of the park and ride services – or taking a train in from one of the outlying towns. The main rail station - Waverly - is as central as it is possible to be, Edinburgh city centre and its attractions are all easily enough walkable from there.

                        NO NEED TO GET FOOT-SORE, BUT OF COURSE WE DID!

                        In hindsight, our sightseeing day really was tackled, to put it indelicately, ‘arse about face’. Having spent around four hours walking around the historic southern side of the city, we collapsed in a café for lunch, before boarding one of the many excellent open top tour busses, to be driven around some of the very streets that we had walked.

                        I would recommend doing this the other way around, or actually using the bus to take out a lot of the foot slog for you. The “Edinburgh Grandtour 24 hour” tickets last a day and are very conveniently valid on any of the Edinburgh licensed tour busses. If you do this on the spur of the moment, as we did, then you buy it from a ticket seller on the main bus stop on Waverley Bridge – just above the railway station.

                        At £12.00 for adults, £10.00 for Seniors and Students and £4.00 for a child, these tickets are not cheap – but they are very good value for money – if you get a full day’s use out of them. There is a slightly cheaper option, (£9, £8 & £3) and that is to buy a MacTours City Tour ticket – again it lasts 24 hours, but you can only hop on and off the MacTours bus – which is easily recognisable as it is an old London bus – yes a re-engined Routemaster!

                        Bearing in mind that Edinburgh’s attractions are priced in line with those in London, the “Royal Edinburgh Ticket” looks a particularly good deal. This allows you unlimited travel on the busses for two days – as well as free admission to The Royal Yacht Britannia, Holyrood House and Edinburgh Castle.

                        Prices for that are: £34.00 Adults, Senior & Students £27.00, child (5 to 15) £13.00.


                        Notice there that Richada carefully side-steps the issue of nightlife, of which I am sure there is plenty! However I am not going write about something of which we have no experience, so, this section will be looking at daytime attractions – purely from a potential tourists’ point of view.

                        On a fine day, such as the one described here, Edinburgh offers a rich feast of architectural interest, from quite ancient, the castle and Royal Mile, to the ultra-modern, the Scottish Parliament building at the bottom of that same street.

                        A WALK IN THE PARK

                        Our day started with a lovely stroll through the Princes Street Gardens, a long thin ribbon of a park running parallel to the main shopping street. Over the western end of the gardens towers the Castle, whilst the traffic choked main street, open only to buses and taxi’s these days – but still choked - is above you and out of sight, indeed, you would never realise that you were in the heart of Scotland’s capital city here. The autumn colours on this sunny October day were just breathtaking.

                        EDINBURGH – THE ATHENS OF THE NORTH!

                        We left the park via the gate facing the Royal Scottish Acadamy. On this fine day we were not inclined to spend time indoors, even in order to admire some of the finest collections of art in the Kingdom, housed here, and in the National Gallery of Scotland next door – both are buildings of outstanding architectural merit in their own right. These two pseudo-Greek galleries are however, not as old as they appear, having been built by William Playfair between 1822 and 1854. At the time, Edinburgh aspired to be the “Athens of the North”.

                        In actual fact, these buildings formed part of the rapidly expanding nineteenth century “New Town” to the north and below the “Old Town” to which we now climbed a long steep flight of steps to enter.

                        THE OLD TOWN

                        This is the tourist heart of the city – centred on the mile long High Street, more popularly known as The Royal Mile. Apart from the obvious, the Castle at one end and Holyrood House at the other – both royal residences, there is a lot to see packed into this fairly compact area.

                        Due to its layout, on hills with narrow twisty streets and twittens leading off the main thoroughfare, Edinburgh is a sightseer and photographer’s dream. Unexpected, between the houses, views over the much more orderly, yet no less attractive New Town to the Firth of Forth beyond, surprise and delight here too.

                        Much of what surrounds you in the Old Town is at least 500 years old, some even older. The architecture in some cases is extraordinary, very tall houses clinging precariously to the side of the steep hill leading to the Castle, itself perched on top of an extinct volcano.

                        We make a dash for that very castle, it is mid morning and upon arrival we are told that there will be a 25 minute queue to get in, we agreed that with so much else to see here, it would make more sense to come back (early) another day and see the Castle. Admission at £11.00 each seems a little steep, with memories of our visit to Windsor Castle, I was not going to shed any tears over not seeing this one today.

                        “SCOTTIST TOURIST TREASURES!”

                        Immediately next to the Castle, atop the High Street were two particularly interesting tourist attractions / shops.

                        The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre seemed popular, even at £9.25 admission – another one to see another day, when we’re feeling flush! I have for some time been looking for a replacement for my favourite Single Malt – Tamnavulin, here, in the Heritage Centre shop, I found it without any effort at all! Next to our computer sits a much cherished coaster, purchased here and given as a gift from the aforementioned reviewer – showing in full detail what a Scotsman wears under his kilt……

                        ……and no I’m not sharing that detail with you!

                        On the opposite side of the ancient street is the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition, mostly shop, partly weaving museum, this was a fascinating Alladin’s cave, even for the non-shoppers (i.e. men) in our party, Mrs R, being a keen seamstress was enthralled by the sheer number of cloths on sale here – just do not expect many bargains amongst them! If, like us, you are unfamiliar with the full Scottish regalia, then this is a great place to familiarise yourself with it. In this area of the city you will see many specialist kilt makers and plenty of shops selling the material too. Here every aspect of the traditional dress was catered for.

                        I suppose one could say that it’s all down-hill from here – literally and figuratively! From the Castle to Holyrood House is a mile – hence the “Royal Mile” and yes it is quite steep going down from the top.

                        If the Castle at the top is regarded as the highlight, it is the most visited tourist attraction in Scotland, then the low-light at the bottom has to be the highly controversial Scottish Parliament building. Between the two is an extraordinarily eclectic mixture of up market boutique type shops, cheap knick knack touristy shops, pubs, fast food joints, visitor attractions (e.g.: Gladstone’s Land, Parliament Visitor Centre, Museum of Edinburgh, Museum of Childhood and Cannongate Tollbooth – The Peoples story) and of course, a couple of Cathedrals thrown in for good measure.

                        In that one mile, I have no doubt that you could spend at least a week, just visiting all of the attractions listed.

                        Already growing weary, we slumped into a cafe for a spot of lunch, before walking the last couple of hundred yards to view the Scottish Parliament building. We may well have a Scottish Prime Minister now, but viewing this monstrous carbuncle it is not surprising that they want to come south and govern from the Houses of Parliament! This is a very large, former brewery site, facing not only the very attractive old Holyrood House, but the most attractive Holyrood Park – an open green space, topped by Salisbury Crags.

                        As a mere visitor to Scotland, I will leave the highly contentious political issue of a separate Parliament out of this review, however, the building itself is an eye sore, a blot on the landscape. In Birmingham or Sheffield perhaps it would be merely regarded as ugly, but in the right position less out of keeping with its surroundings. Here in Edinburgh its’ sole purpose seems to be as shock value – built at OUR colossal expense!

                        It may well have been the awful appearance of this building, I had read much about it and seen photographs too – neither can fully prepare you for the preposterous reality – but at this stage of the afternoon, tiredness was overcoming me.

                        ALL ABOARD!

                        We decided to re-trace our steps to Waverly Bridge and hop aboard the MacTours bus. The open topped bus winds its way around the city streets taking approximately an hour to do the full circuit. On the bus is a gentleman carrying out a live commentary.

                        We set off leaving Princes Street behind us, passing under the great monuments – to Nelson, the National and Observatory, pass the Old Royal High School to find that we are back at Hollyrood House.

                        Of course, from the upstairs of a topless bus you have a splendid view, even having walked the same streets it gives you a different perspective on the city. Regrettably, the bus shook and wobbled its way around somewhat – my photographs from it were the most disappointing of the day!

                        From Holyrood House, the bus enters the Park, allowing us to have a look at both the Scottish Parliament building (again!) and its’ much more attractive modern neighbour “Dynamic Earth”. Billed as “The Mother Earth of all Adventures, this is another attraction to which I would like to return.

                        Back up the hill towards the Castle, the bus takes some interesting back streets, under and over bridges, passing as it goes St Giles Cathedral, George Herriot’s School and the famous statue of Greyfriers Bobby, before descending behind the Castle to turn back and cross over Princes Street.

                        THE GRACIOUS GEORGIAN NEW TOWN

                        This now was very much virgin territory as far as I was concerned. On the north side of the city, in the “New Town” I experienced a distinct feeling of deja-vu. Some years ago we took an open topped bus tour of Bath, the architecture and layout of this part of the Edinburgh, with smart terraces and leafy squares has much in common with Bath. It is very different to the ramshackle layout of the Old Town and is yet sill quite compact an area.

                        Particularly attractive on this part of the tour was Charlotte Square, not surprisingly a Robert Adam development – and one of his finest at that. The very handsome “Georgian House”, a National Trust of Scotland property, is open to the public here and is furnished to represent how it would have appeared when newly built and inhabited in 1796. As a matter of record, it set its’ first owner back £1,800, equivalent to £200,000 in today’s money – one could only guess at the actual current value!

                        Having given us a taste of gracious living in central Edinburgh, the bus now returns us to the starting point on Waverly Bridge.

                        A SPOT OF QUALITY RETAIL THERAPY

                        OK, so Edinburgh is not the best “shopping” city in the Kingdom, Princes Street however is well stocked with high street names. Other areas of the city are better for more original and specialist shops, however as our day in Edinburgh drew to a close, it was Princes Street that was our final “attraction”.

                        PRINCES STREET

                        Unlike a traditional high street – of which Edinburgh’s is fairly typical – if historic in character, Princes Street is a shopping street of only one side! For someone like me, more interested in architecture, Princes Street is actually fascinating for entirely different reasons.

                        Originally this was an entirely residential street, the southern boundary of the New Town, hence the park below the castle. During the nineteenth century gradually commercial interests took over here, merchants moved in, converting large houses into shops and hotels, the huge, landmark Balmoral Hotel - opened in 1902, being the pinnacle of this development.

                        From an architectural point of view, this is a most attractive street that has been vandalised by almost random and ugly1960’s additions adjacent to splendid historic buildings.

                        One notable shop here is Jenners, if in Edinburgh, do take a look inside this department store. A rare, independently owned store, it is something of a Scottish institution having been founded in Edinburgh in 1838 and occupying the current site since 1893. The interior really is something from a bygone era, a huge glass roof and dark oak stair cases and balconies are highlights here.


                        On the opposite, Gardens, side of Princes Street is situated yet another huge monument – the Scott Monument. We did not have time, it was closed anyway when we arrived there, to go inside and ascend to the top, but at 60 metres (200ft) high, the view would be well worth the climb. Dating from 1846, this is an extraordinary Gothic looking creation and is situated dead centre of the city. Millions were apparently spent on restoration prior to the millennium, unfortunately the money appears to have run out before they could complete the job and clean up the stonework which has been blackened, mostly by traffic pollution.


                        Obviously this review has barely scratched the surface of Edinburgh and its huge number of visitor attractions. I was correct at the outset in stating that an “in depth” review of a city like this is simply not possible in one review.

                        Hopefully, you will have drawn the conclusion from my review that Edinburgh is a city well worth visiting, and, for a lot longer than the two days that we were actually here last October!

                        Given sufficient funds, we could quite happily spend a couple of weeks here exploring the very many attractions and just chilling out and soaking up the atmosphere of this multi-faceted city.

                        There are aspects which this review has not been able to touch upon at all – Edinburgh’s world-wide famous “events”. Prime amongst them has to be the Edinburgh Festival, started in 1947, held at the height of the tourist season, annually, in August, the city is heaving with not only sight seeing tourists, but with hundreds of street artists.

                        The Military Tattoo is just as famous as the Festival and again draws crowds of its own.

                        IN CONCLUSION

                        Whilst these events bring many tourists and much money into the city, they are not actually required to make Edinburgh an important tourist destination in its own right. Whatever your tastes, be they cultural, political, architectural, retail or, merely perhaps, curiosity, Edinburgh really does have plenty to offer everyone……

                        ……just please though, one request, don’t all bring your cars into this city – it is already a nightmare to travel in!


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                          02.09.2004 10:11
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                          This review is loosely about Edinburgh and more about my experience at TVYP (Television and Young People) in association with MGEITF (Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival) (I bet the title is starting to make more sense now!) ===TVYP=== TVYP is an annual scheme that people aged 18-21 apply for if they are interested in working in the TV industry. Thousands of hopefuls apply every year, but only 150 make it on, and those lucky enough to make it are subjected to an intense day of masterclasses/seminars and a practical, hands on workshop whereby we learn the tricks of the trade. ===FOOD=== Food and accommodation is provided free of charge and three designated buses ferry us around to the venues of some speeches and parties. Yes, parties! Parties with free booze! Parties with UNLIMITED free booze! Wooooooooooooooo! The free booze extended to both red and white wine as well as various types of beer. It wasn?t cheap generic beer or supermarket own brand either, it was stuff like Grolsh, Bud and Stella. Since I?m not a fan of beer, I stuck to the white wine, and for teetotallers out there, there was also orange juice as well. The food was of an excellent standard and the accommodation was top notch, with many rooms overlooking Arthur?s Seat (an extinct volcano), unfortunately, I had a ground floor view of a car park! More about the food, eh? Well, all the meals (three square meals a day, each meal lasting an hour ? Breakfast: 8ish. Lunch: 12ish. Dinner: 5ish. There?s a slight change each day) were served in the John McIntyre Centre and involved a vegetarian option every meal as well. I was su
                          rprised at the high quality as things like steak, lasagne and stroganoff were available, as well as pizza, pasta and garlic bread. The desserts were LOVELY, and involved individual cheesecakes with exotic fruits and oh so sexy chocolate cakes! Cereal is provided for breakfast, but if this isn?t your thing, a good ol? fry up (there was no haggis! I was looking forward to that!) is available too. Tea and coffee, as well as an array of fruit juice and soft drinks were available. I was most impressed at the tray bussing system, as there was a conveyer belt on the wall that rotated slowly into the kitchen with three tiers so that the poor dishwashers in the kitchen could clean our dirty plates. Breakfast on the first days was great but exhausting as I found myself shmoozing with a TV executive over coffee at 730am! ===ACCOMMODATION=== As I mentioned earlier, most rooms offer you great views, and the corridors are all covered by CCTV so you don?t have worry about valuables being stolen. I stayed in Grant House on the ground floor and the basics in each room includes a sink, towel rail, wardrobe, four drawers, a kettle, mug, tea and coffee, large desk, telephone, bin and desk lamp as well as two comfortable chairs, a Bible and bookshelves. Each day, a cleaner would come around and top up any used tea and coffee, empty your bin and make the bed. I don?t think the sheets were changed though, as I have eczema and thus can tell if I have clean sheets (let?s not go into that) but at least they were made up nicely every day. Every other day, fresh towels were provided and complimentary shampoo and soap can be found on the initial day set out on the towel. The shared bathroom and shower facilities were of an extremely high standard a
                          nd each one had a toilet, as well as individual toilet stalls available as well. These were also made spotless every day by the hard working cleaners. Each wing on each floor offers a stairwell and a pantry, and in each pantry is an iron, ironing board, oven, microwave, fridge, sink and table and chairs. The only bad thing is that since every pantry is located in the centre of each wing, there are no windows and it feels rather dingy and dark in there. The beds were very comfortable, hell, they were TOO comfortable at times as I missed breakfast a couple of times as I couldn?t bring myself to leave the security of the bed! The rooms are all non-smoking. ===BACK TO TVYP=== My TVYP week started last Friday and ran through until Monday morning. As soon as I arrived to the reception area of Pollock Halls at Edinburgh University, I was blown away by the amount of people in the waiting room, baring in mind I got there at the time that we were supposed to begin registration, yet at least 100 people were waiting already! After about 10 minutes of mingling, a group of 30 of us were called up to pick up our keys and lead to Grant House, whereby we were given 5 minutes to grab what we needed and sort ourselves out, before we had to meet in the foyer again to be lead to Holland House (where the majority of my lectures and workshop was) for an introductory talk. During this talk, I coyly volunteered to work on the technical team of what would be known as ?The Presenter Experience? whereby I had to attach a mic to whichever delegate wanted to try their hand at presenting on TV for two minutes, and I was also in charge of burning the footage onto a CD for them to take away. This is where I met my first c
                          ontact in the media. I got friendly with the crew of Picture Canning Company (it turns out that these guys were running my weekend workshop as well, bonus!) and even ended up getting drunk and dancing with some of them on Saturday night as well! Anyway, after spending a couple of hours doing the technician job, I went to pick up my goody bag, which included a handy satchel, lolly pops, disposable single use toothbrushes, a disposable camera, programme of events, list of everyone on the course and contact details, alarm clock, breath mints, a rubber cow(!) and much, much more. Finally, and most importantly, I picked up my ID badge, which would entitle me to free booze and entry into restricted events solely for television conference delegates! I felt so important then! Wooooooo! On the primary night I was there, we were ferried to a talk from Justin and Colin from TV?s ?How Not To Decorate? as well as Rhona Cameron from ?I?m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here?. The delegates were all required to wear their T-shirts that we were given at the beginning as we were sponsored by the Sky TV channel, Trouble. After the introductory talks, we were ferried to the ground floor of the EICC building (it was huge and posh and had doormen!) for free booze (yay!) and a casino night whereby everyone was given 10 chips and told to gamble away playing games such as Black Jack, roulette and craps. The person who got the highest number of chips in 2 hours won two concert tickets to someone or other (sorry, I was drunk at this point) and the highest scoring female and highest scoring male also won some decent prizes too. At this point, we were lead outside, onto our buses, and back to Grant House. Zzzzzzz? The next day saw ever
                          yone taking four master classes out of the 24 that were running that day. Before going up to Edinburgh, everyone had to put down a first, second and third choice of what they wanted to do and places were allocated from these forms. The ones I did were: ===Raising The Stakes=== This was the first class of the day with Jonny Webb, the channel controller of Challenge TV on Sky. This was in a posh (but garish) room in the Salisbury Green music room on campus and is only a short walk away from where Holland House is. Jonny has positioned games entertainment channel Challenge as the TV home of poker in the UK. Poker mania is sweeping the globe, with Hollywood A-listers flocking to the tables. Jonny puts on his best poker face and reveals how it has become addictive TV ===Turn Up The Heat=== This was run by Boyd Hilton who is the TV editor for Heat magazine. Poor ol? Boyd had a plaster stuck to his chin the night before as he was in a hurry to get to Edinburgh from London Paddington and tripped over a curb and slammed his chin into a pavement! Two of my new found friends stuck plasters all over their faces, spelling out ?TVYP? the night before and had a photo taken with him! :-D Anyway, Boyd is the man in the know on all things telly. Working on top celebrity magazine Heat. What does he think of this year?s Big Brother and how does Heat consistently manage to grab those celebrity scoops? This was all answered in the class? ===Telling It Like It Is=== This was with the television presenter of Hangover TV, Simon Amstell. Well, he actually presents Popworld on Sundays, thus the Hangover &#
                          84;V part, if you get what I mean. ;-) As host of Channel 4?s hugely successful Popworld, Simon has built a reputation as one of the wittiest popstar-ego-deflators on TV (he has been banned on interviewing Schooch and was also sacked from Nickelodeon for being too sarcastic to guests!). He is now putting his sharp tongue to good use in stand up comedy and he talks about how he got into the TV presenter business and all the while making the entire class laugh out loud and evoke a huge round of applause at the end, this must have really annoyed whoever was taking the class next door! :-) ===Lighting Up Five?s Future=== The CEO of Channel Five was good enough to take time out of her hectic schedule to come in and give a seminar about what she does and how she goes about it. Jane Lighting began her television career with John Cleese?s production company, and then later becoming the Managing Director. In 1995 Jane founded Minotaur, an international programme sales company, and then went on to become CEO of Flextech Television. She talks about her vision for Five and even let us watch a five minute clip from the pilot of Joey (Friends spinoff) that hadn?t even been released to the press yet! --- After a day of masterclasses and dinner, we were moved onto McEwan Hall to listen to an hour long MacTaggart lecture about reality television. There was a big feature about this in Monday?s edition of the Guardian in the Media section, but I didn?t pay too much attention to the lecture as I was sat 6 inches away from a giant pillar and the speech was somewhat muffled. Since there was nowhere else I could go, I went to sleep! Anyway, this was the only night that all of the delegates had fr
                          ee, so a bunch of us went to explore Edinburgh and ended up at a crowded little pub called The Last Drop. Drinks were flowing freely and though it was quite small, there was adequate seating as we convinced people to give us a table by telling them that we were all big shot TV executives with out paltry little ?Sponsored by the Discovery Channel? badges! There was also seating outside until 9pm, so a few of us hung around out there for an hour or so because being so crowded in there, also meant that it was very hot. After drinking our fair share here, we moved onto a place called the Smirnoff Iron Underbelly where we caught a comedy show for £10.50 (about CAD$25) to see Rob Deery, a stand up comedian. It was a fantastically funny show, and lasted for an hour. The best thing was that Rob could also sing and play the electric guitar as well, so this added to his charisma. After the show and copious amounts of whisky (maybe that?s why I found him so funny? Kidding!) we blagged our way into a rock concert using our Discovery Channel ?credentials? to see an American amateur rock group called The Lovegods. This lasted for about an hour and a half after we got there and their music was exactly what you?d expect from a rock group. They weren?t devoid of talent, but I?m more of a punk/ska person so I guess I?m being biased. After this wound up, myself and the three guys I was hanging around with got lost trying to find a kebab shop, then finally found a taxi rank, waited for over and hour, and made it back to Grant House, at about 4am, bearing in mind breakfast was at 8 on Saturday morning! *Groan* ===Workshop=== Ahh! The weekend workshop I took was my first choice and I wasn?t disappointed. I?ve done a similar thing during my second year at uni,
                          working in a studio, but this was more intense and thus more useful to my career. As I mentioned earlier, I?d already gotten to know some of the people from here, both the technicians and a few of the people actually doing the workshop. During the first day of hands on experience, we played around with lots of technical toys and I ended up vision mixing (deciding with the director what shots to use and when, bearing in mind that this was technically ?live), shooting and editing the VT (video tape) for a one minute sequence that was to be spliced in, and sorting out the lighting. I can honestly say that I learnt more about lighting in a studio from a technician in half an hour than I did at uni! I thought it would be very easy, but there are books written on the subject about 2 inches thick, and technicians who can get the lighting spot on in a studio are paid a lot of money as there is a demand for people who can do it perfectly. At the end of the first session, we were told that we would be working on filming of two hours worth of presentations the next day from the other classes. No pressure then. On top of this, lighting, director, floor managing, sound engineers et al were all delegated to us! Eek! I was in charge of the VT and had to project them onto a giant screen when prompted, and also had to tell the rest of the crew how long each clip was, as well as how long we had left to go, and count them down. This sounds quite simple, but when you?re relied upon by over 200 people to get it right, handed footage 30 seconds before it is due to be aired, AND work on the LIVE broadcast of the lunchtime news on Sunday 29th August 2004 on BBC Scotland (I hope someone saw that!), then you?re under a lot of pressure! Suffice to say, I only shouted at a few people but we pulled it off in the end, and I
                          even won an award for keeping my cool under pressure (that?s because I snuck out periodically for cigarettes!) on the final day. A two hour comedy line up was exclusively held for us (free booze, again) at the George Hotel, whereby the organisers of TVYP footed the bill. The only comedian?s name I could remember was Rob Deery. Sound familiar? Damn! I paid all that money to see him, only for him to perform for free! Grr! After this, blah blah blah, dinner, blah blah MTV party! This included free entry into an overpriced club in town and free drinks (my mate paid £5.50 [CAD$12.90] for an Archers and lemonade as she doesn?t drink beer or wine! Glad I drink wine) all night long. Food was circulated around the place as well and this was both free and tasty. It wasn?t the type of party I expected as I associated ?MTV? with lots of stars, but there were people there who were famous to me in m own right, as I mingled with, and obtained business cards from, a lot of people who work in the TV industry including managing directors, CEOs and high level executives. The music was your run of the mill cheesy crap, but I was more interested in the free eats! :-) Needless to say, I got drunk again. Well, it?s all FREEEEEEEEEEE! Sunday was the aforementioned filming of the presentations from other groups and the LIVE NEWS, LIVE NEWS, LIVE NEWS? ahem? There was a quiz show type thing held between three high level big cheeses in the TV industry versus three TVYP delegates held at the EICC (the Industry won) hosted by Richard Bacon. It was a t
                          ake on British TV?s ?Telly Addicts? and the entire crowd were of course biased towards the delegates to win. :-) The new head of ITV Day Time, Nick Thorogood, put on a private show for us at this event, i.e. he wore a pair of crotchless panties over his trousers, then tripped on his chair and fell on his ass! Heehee! After this, more drinks and closing speeches, then we were shuffled off to the final party (more booze) to say goodbye to all of our new friends. Throughout the time we were here, a TV crew were following us around and made a little promotional film about us all. They held little interviews as well (I didn?t mine slightly inebriated, I hope they don?t use it!) with random people that they?re going to use on their showreel next year to attract more people to do it. Monday morning was the worst time I had at TVYP as it was time to say goodbye properly to everyone. It felt like I had been there for a few weeks rather than a few days and I made a lot of friends there that I will hopefully keep in touch with over time. Who know, I may see a few of them again next year as I?m applying to be a Steward at the event next year. Wish me luck! --- TVYP runs every year over the August Bank Holiday weekend. For more details on how to apply, go to: http://www.tvyp.co.uk Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php


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                            27.08.2004 19:27
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                            Scotland’s capital Edinburgh has long been associated with the arts; every summer, millions of overeducated fans of performing arts and stand up comedy spend more money than they conceivably afford on hour-long shows and . I think that’s the case anyway, but it’s possible that I’m just confusing everyone in a big city with just me.

                            Athens has been described as the Athens of the North, but there are several differences. Firstly, the highland breeze is a lot different from the hot Mediterranean climate (and thus better in my view), and the architecture is less white. Iced Earth have also never played a two-day set there and released the show as a live album. The artistic and cultural background of Edimburgh is certainly enough to rival Athena’s city though, and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, is Greek after all.


                            Edinburgh’s city centre is incredible easy to navigate. Seriously, even if you’ve printed off a street plan from the internet and circled areas where your venues probably are, you won’t need it. Buses and taxis are constantly available all day and night, while the traffic is never really an issue as you only ever need to cross the road once.

                            Heading south from Waverley railway station leads to the Royal Mile and North/South Bridge roads, all housing the entertainment, libraries and artistic places, as well as far too many hotels tucked away in streets to feasibly comprehend, while heading in the other direction reveals the large shopping section of the town and Princes Street Gardens which are probably nice.


                            Edinburgh’s skyline is impressive from any angle, with plenty of busts, statues, funky lighting at night (I love lights me) and my personal favourite form of architecture, spiky towers. My personal favourite of these was the Scott Monument on Princes Street (thanks to proxam for identifying it). Throughout the night there was also plenty of building work being done on more modern and equally huge buildings in the city centre, so Edinburgh is still something of a work in progress. Not surprising considering the Hob Nob quality of the walls in the Underbelly venue.


                            My experience of entertainment at Edinburgh is primarily that of the comedy venues, and there are some sodding good ones. From the relatively low-key comedy bars such as the Stand to the converted cinema of the Pod Deco, the courtyard-based arena of the Pleasance or the pretty cool Smirnoff Underbelly, the city centre is arranged so that there’s plenty of time to travel between the venues amidst the one-hour shows. None of the big TV-stand up names would be caught performing throughout the month in these kind of arenas, although fans of Billy Connolly, Lee Evans and Peter Kay aren’t exactly stuck for DVD releases and national tours, but many of the remaining excellent comedians can be found up there every year, along with a stream of quite poor imitators.

                            Being a large city also entitles Edinburgh to much more impressive and much better facilities and entertainment than the humble towns I grew up in that were fairly rubbish.


                            Hotels are going to be expensive in any place with a three star plus rating on Dooyoo, and the larger ones in the centre of Edimburgh are predictably extortionate. The advice I was given a few months ago was to naively and quite dangerously avoid thinking about financial issues while I was up there, but next year I’ll have a student loan to support me, and that’s what they’re for, right?

                            The hotel I stayed in cost £120 for the night, but it at least kept me off the streets. I was on the streets the second night. I only needed a place to rest my head, but the large bed did somehow allow me a very vivid dream that I’m not going to go into, but that was worth every penny.


                            I suppose the Glasgow stereotype is drunk Scotsmen bawling, puking and asking Jimmie to “stitch that,” but the international nature of Edinburgh’s summer meant that I didn’t see much of this kind of thing. Only a bit, and it was quite funny. The people I did encounter were all very friendly, despite their obvious inner frustration at all the arty types coming up and taking over their city in the summer, and the Scottish accent is great anyway. Much better than having an indistinct accent that doesn’t really suggest you are from anywhere, but that still requires concentration to stop dropping ‘t’s on the ends of words. I love the Scottish, even though there are apparently no Scottish women according to one comic I saw. Strange as it seems, that did make me think for a few moments before dismissing it as a silly joke, but I get his point.

                            THE FRINGE

                            Dooyoo has a category for the festival, but I really wanted to talk about Edinburgh in general as it is a great place that I will definitely be visiting again. Nevertheless, I was only up there because of the legendary antics of London comedians.

                            Richard Herring and Stewart Lee were the primary reason I went up to the festival, and their respective shows were completely worth it. Although nothing else I saw came close in terms of enjoyment and brilliance, the Fringe month is dominated by theatrical, artistic, musical and humorous acts to provide something for everyone. Everyone with at least a few hundred pounds to spare for travel, accommodation and entertainment over a few days.


                            Actually, while I was there the weather was very favourable. Scotland may be associated with strong winds, fresh-faced people breathing that wind in and then getting rained on, but when I went it was pretty much the same as the rest of England. Not too hot, but quite sunny, although this was in August obviously. I don’t think Edinburgh’s actually in Scotland at all; that’s just a ploy to sell the beanie baby rip-offs of Nessie to everyone for £5.99 a time. I know, I’m not buying my brother one of them now.

                            Next August I might just rent a flat there for a month. It is good, you should go.


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