We arrived at night heading to a backpackers on Princes St so we got my favourite fairy tale effect of seeing the castle and other buildings all lit up, its like arriving in another world, one full of magic. We went exploring Princes St in search of cash machines and enjoying the views. Then back to the pub next to our Hostel for a pint and some live music (an interesting mix of Scottish and American but lots of fun).
The Fringe fest was fantastic, the city was alive with people everywhere, well at least all through royal mile and cornmarket st. Walking down the Royal mile was always interesting, buskers performing, pubs with tables spilling out onto the footpaths, mini stages with groups singing from them, tourists shops playing bagpipe tunes loudly and merchandise lined up on the edge of the shop covering every part of it. But the most entertaining was seeing the actors and comedian trying to get you to take their fliers and come to their shows. They would wear bizarre costumes, do silly things, speak in weird voices, stand anything they could find, sing, dance, strut I even saw somebody lying down pretending to be dead (though apparently that wasn’t such a good move as one of the comedians admitted to stepping on them later, though that may have told for humour and not actually done, damn exaggerating comedians).
Our first day there we only saw one actual show the rest of the time we spent looking around in wonder, so much to see! Especially since Edinburgh is an amazingly beautiful city anyways and Robbie hadn’t been there before.
We ended up watching about 3 shows a day and doing some sightseeing and lots of yummy food eating in between times. We saw some great shows, some average shows and one really sick and twisted show and a few that were just weird but still good. I think my favourite was the history of Scotland one, where they took the piss of everything it was great! I also really enjoyed a comedy duo act, I forget who they were but they had lots of songs and silly stuff and a series of jokes I couldn’t understand until the next day in the supermarket when I discovered what a babybel was (small round wax coated cheese) and suddenly understood, Shakespeare’s shorts was also very funny.
The tricky bit about deciding which show to go to is that its hard to get much information on each show and there are so many shows to choose from. A flyer may have a sentence or two and some pictures describing the show and the guide book gives you the title and maybe a sentence if you lucky to go by, which is how we got to the sick and twisted show.
Robbie wanted to see some theatre so I looked in the guide book and saw one with the brothers Grimm in the title, ohhhh fairy tales I think and show it to Robbie and we come to the conclusion that it will be fairy tales but maybe the darker ones going from the title and the sentence description. So we booked tickets and went along the next day.
Yes there were fairy tales and yes it was dark… and sick and twisted and creepy though very well acted. They told us stories from the Pied Piper, Hansel and Gretel, and Sleeping Beauty but they added a bit more to each. In total adding rape, cannibalism, domestic violence, murder, and incest into those 3 stories…. was not at all what we were expecting! We wandered away feeling shocked and horrified and decided to try and be more careful about what we chose to go see.
We discovered that the free shows were fantastic and didn’t require fluffing around to get tickets first. Though it paid not to sit in the front row unless you wanted to get picked on for the whole show. Though when a group of male first year uni students got told they couldn’t hide at the back and needed to come sit in the spare seats at the front, the comedian didn’t know what they were getting them self in for as those guys gave back much more than he bargained for making the show much much funnier as the guys were very quick at coming back with smart answers leaving the comedian speechless several times.
But the Highlight of the trip was the Edinburgh Tattoo. Robbie bought tickets tickets online just before we left and had them posted to our hostel. We waited in a massive line really a big crowd herded into one place, we joined it part way down the first st coming off the royal mile down from the castle (where all the coaches park) right up to where the stands were in the car park of the castle. There was a lot of people. We had our bags checked, then slowly made our way up with police and military officers on either side of the crowd keeping everything in order. Of course as soon as we got to our seats it started to rain but we were prepared and it didn’t last long thankfully.
The castle had all the torches burning and during the show had different images projected onto it, it was amazing.
The show itself was spectacular, the bands marched through the castle gates with their impeccable uniforms and timing. No one was even slightly out of time. The spot light was on them and the bag pipes were hauntingly beautiful.
There were different bands from all around the world who all did an amazing job. But the NZ guys were the best hands down (though I may be a little biased) they marched in in perfect timing into different formations then four of them put down their instruments and started dancing, very silly dances it was hilarious. They did some other great stuff then all put down their instruments to sing Pokarekare Ana and then do the Haka, which looks rather funny when all in military band uniform.
Other highlights were the imps a group of children aged from 5-16 doing tricks on motor bikes, all from bad parts of London. They were great and showed amazing control over their bikes and no fear at all. The Polish??? group who had mountain horns and did traditional dancing in the middle of theirs, and the finally where everyone was playing at the same time. It is one of the best performances I have ever seen, actually I think it may have been the best.
There were lots of other things we did while there my favourite being climb to the top of Arthur’s seat, which had an amazing view and lots of fun places to explore on the way.
Edinburgh I think is one of my favourite cities, though I have so many other places to see before I am done, I have a feeling it will still stay a favourite.