Edinburgh: Week 1.5

Edinburgh Travel Blog

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Many of you are upset with me because I'm not indulging you with a surplus of blogs and updates on my haps in Scotland. For that I am very sorry. Please know that I'm too busy working my bum off, and when I'm not doing that, I'm having too much fun doing other things and quite frankly couldn't be bothered wasting time in cyberspace. I've been gone a week and a half now and have so much to share, but no blog (or photograph) could possibly do justice. But I will do my best right now to catch you up on my last 10 days of splendor…but please note that I must resort to brevity at this point as, to quote Navin Johnson "The Jerk," what do you think I do, write letters all day?").

WEEK (and a half) ONE: Edinburgh

I arrived in Edinburgh early Sunday morning, bright-eyed but cloudy, exhausted but tireless with anticipation. My first Edinburgh experience was shared with a charming elderly Scots man, who not only drove me to my venue in his fine cabbie, but also entertained me along the way with stories and endless anecdotes, told in a native accent so thick you could cut it with a knife. Despite the bitter cold (and the unsettling realization that I definitely did not pack enough warm clothes), I found comfort and warmth in my first encounter in this city, and grew even more excited about the people I would meet, the places I would see, the and the memories I would make.

That was the last peaceful moment I would have for a while.

Upon arriving at my venue and learning of the endless tasks that needed to be performed before opening of night, I grew stressed (mind you, I had not slept) but also excited about the new challenges with which I would be faced, and new skills that I would develop. Within hours I was setting up the venue to be entirely fit and legal (setting up fire/safety inspections, electrical inspections, ensuring that all licenses were in place), building stages, going through 16 hours straight of tech rehearsals, sending out press releases, coordinating a press launch, meeting my incredible team of box office, front of house and technical staff (a few of who are also my flatmates), and also becoming acquainted with the 100 performers I would be working with (actors, musicians, hypnotists, and other entertainers whose accents run the gamut…from South African to the most obscure UK dialect (I must mention that this plethora of accents is somehow exorcising Meanwhile, amidst all the hustle and bustle, I was still trying to get orientated in my new city, get my bearings, and try to squeeze in some good fun now and then.

And oh how much fun I've had. This blog would be insanely lengthy if I went into great detail as to all the good stuff I've gotten myself into, so unfortunately I'm going to have to outline these activities (you'll just have to ask me for the stories in person later). So this past week I have:

  • Made great new friends (co-workers Nick, Nick, James, Beth, Labhaoise, Dorieann, Fergus; performers galore; relatives of friends)

  • Explored the beautiful scenery of Edinburgh, from its lush green parks to its medieval cobblestone closes to the endless old pubs

  • Repeatedly gotten goosebumps upon hearing the dozens of bagpipers in the streets

  • Found myself in awe every time I see the beautiful focal point of the city centre, the Edinburgh Castle

  • Strolled up and down the Royal Mile, Grassmarket, Cowgate, New Town, West End, Southside, and more

  • Seen countless plays, plays, and more plays, dance performances, endless street buskers, jazz, and an amazing traditional Scottish folk duo in a 500+ year old pub

  • Met dancers, musicians, circus artists, storytellers, actors, hypnotists, and every other possible type of entertainer/artist on this planet

  • Explored the wonderful shops both old and new (but I must say, though, the weak dollar is NOT leaving much for shopping extravaganzas!)

  • Celebrated one of our staff member's 18th birthday (legal drinking age here) with a trip to yet another old pub and…a strip club

  • Danced my butt off at a drum n' bass night (my friend Fergus was emceeing) at Cabaret Voltaire, which is housed in the ancient subterranean caverns that underpin the bustling streets of Edinburgh's Cowgate district. I must say, the nightlife here is pretty amazing.

  • Eaten a wonderful meal (and many liters of sangria!) at a tapas restaurant with my good Pittsburgh friend Gwen's cousins and their friends, which included a dozen people each from a different country (from Barbados to Holland to Spain)…followed by more drinks and dancing at the Spiegeltent (which is the pinnacle nightlife during the festival)

  • Found my repressed childhood Australian accent sneaking out, amidst all of the other accents

  • Partied with hundreds of Fringe performers and staff at the "Paint the Town Red" opening night party

  • Discovered my routine (my grocery store, my favorite coffee shop, bakery, and more

  • Fallen in love over and over again with this place

    Well, that's all for now. This week I plan to see a whole lot more performances (I mean jeez, there are only 300+ venues and thousands of performances to choose from at this festival!), do some sight seeing (Arthur's Seat/an old volcano, a haunted tour of the underground city, etc.), and continue to explore this wondrous place. An excursion to Glasgow, the countryside, and an old medieval village may be in my near future as well.

    In short, Edinburgh is amazing. The neighborhoods are charming and old, full of life and culture, winding roads and breathtaking views. And during festival time, it is insane. People everywhere. Art everywhere. There is so much to do, so much to see. This is the largest arts festival in the world, and I am living it, breathing it.

    P.S I'm sorry to say that I haven't even taken any photos yet. I've been too caught up in each and every moment to even think about it. Sorry!

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photo by: vances