Here I am in Scotland and to my surprise until just a few days ago, I came into the city during the biggest month-long event of the year in Edinburgh. What greeted me was the Edinburgh Festival that boasts the largest festival in two events going on at the same time. The Fringe Festival, with over 40,000 performances and more than 2,500 shows are packed into 250 venues across the city.
The other event is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The military presents international performers, military and civilian, that is set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle. Tickets are difficult to get.
I believe the boasting about the festival going on here, for just after getting settled into a room, I ventured around, in what will be my neighborhood for three days, which, ho-hum, includes the Edinburgh Castle. On the street I saw a crowd of people inside a stone building and courtyard. I went in and was immediately approached by one young person after another who handed me post-sized cards that advertised performances that would be going on inside the building at various times. I learned that the courtyard, where people were enjoying food and drink is the Pleasance building which houses theater, comedy, music and children’s events.
But that wasn’t all, because everywhere I went, someone thrusted a postcard in my hand with yet another venue. Then an angel appeared just when I needed a place to sit down.
She was standing in an African inspired skirt and top, at the steps of a hotel and bar. She began telling me about the wonderful food and the great place to stay, and asked me if I’d like a seat inside.
“Yes, I would because I’m tired. But I don’t want anything to eat or drink, so guess I won’t be going in.”
“Oh, no, you are never expected to purchase anything here in our lobby. You come right in and sit here.” She pointed to a huge overstuffed chair that looked so inviting that I felt comfort before I even sat down.
She began to tell me all about the hotel and the ambience they are trying to create; “it’s a fashion place. All of our clothing, the fabrics used within the hotel are all African-inspired.”
Then the young lady with a bright smile and flashing brown eyes, told me she was in her last year at Edinburgh University in the hotel/travel/tourism department, and when she finishes, she’ll go back to Africa to help her dad in his Safari business.
The big chair was an uninterrupted home for close to an hour, until a nice young man asked me if I wanted anything and a “no thank you” didn’t alter his friendliness. He was a former make-up artist on films made in Poland, and while in Scotland with a film making project, he decided to stay and that was six years ago. He is now studying the same degree as the young lady.
The three hour walk around tall, and very old stone buildings on cobble-stone and concrete gave me a real feel for the city, however, it is also the most expensive place I’ve been so far. The room I’m staying in isn’t that special, and requires extra payment for wifi and television. So I’m down the street in Starbucks writing this. I’ve signed up for three more nights and will experience the city-which, again is beautiful-and then will leave for a more affordable place. Later this month to celebrate my 75th birthday on the 22nd, I have plans to be in a very special place, which will be announced on that date.