August in Edinburgh means one thing – festivals! – and I wanted to see them all; but I didn’t see the point of flying between London and Edinburgh, and I certainly didn’t want to pay the extortionate amounts for a train ticket only to have to double the fee when I was coming back. That left me two choices – being cramped in a bus for eight-hours or renting a car. Car rental it was!
Picking up the car from London’s Heathrow airport I was secretly hoping that I’d get one of the European beauties. What are considered luxury cars in Australia are everywhere in Europe and I was itching to get inside one and hear the motor purr. But it seemed that being under-25 didn’t allow me a huge range of choices when it came to cars and the driving Gods had another car in mind for me…
I called her ‘Black Beauty’, much to my road trip buddys objections, and she was all mine even if just for one weekend.
Driving up to Edinburgh was a breeze. The motorways in the UK are simple to navigate and the road-users are, for the most part, polite – a refreshing change after road tripping in the US!
After passing the turn-off for Manchester things start the roadsides begin to flourish and the development drops away to showcase green pastures and hills. For me it was the perfect time to pull over and grab my camera to take a few snaps of the wild terrain.
Passing the Scottish border the greenery continues but little towns begin to crop up along the way. As an Aussie I was pretty excited to see the road-sign for the town of Lamington. Slowing down I was hoping for a cafe to stop at to grab one of the tasty chocolate, coconut and sponge-centered treats found at delis all over Australia; needless to say I was devastated to find a cluster of homes and no cafe selling one of my favourite Australian treats.
Edinburgh is vibrant, fast, and unlike any city I have ever visited before. If you’ve visited the city you could understand how artists and authors – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, Kenneth Grahme – could draw inspiration from the city.
But I didn’t have time to sit in a cafe and ponder the wonders of the universe; it was festival time and the streets were buzzing with pop-up events, comedians to see, and art to watch come to life.
The first pitstop we made was to The Pleasance, a hub for the international Fringe Festival, and home to a diversity of acts ranging from moving theatre pieces, comic brilliance, and musicians.
We were attending a taster session with a smattering of performers across all the artistic fields performing inside The Pleasance, but the highlight for me was finally seeing The Boy with Tape on his Face perform a show which really makes you appreciate what everyday items can do if you use your imagination.
After a hectic day seeing the city, taking in the best of the Edinburgh Arts festival, getting lost driving around Edinburgh’s closed off streets, and seeing Australian comic, Jim Jefferies, we were meant to head to the famous Spiegeltent but having arrived in the city too late to collect our tickets to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the main reason I invited Dylan to head North with me.
Walking down the town centre, tiredness overcoming us and thinking a shot of whiskey before bed would be the best course, we heard a scalper selling last-minute tickets to that night’s performance. Though we’d missed 20 minutes of the performance we still arrived in time to see the best bits and we got tickets front and center for less than retail cost – bargain!
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo was unbelievable and we were rejuvenated, even if just for a few hours, which meant that we had enough time to enjoy a drink at the Spiegeltent.
Spiegeltents are easily deconstructed wooden and canvas performance tents originally created in the late 19th century, lavishly decorated with mirrors and stained glass. In Edinburgh the tents are home to cabaret-style acts, circus acts and classical music for a small entrance fee. Inside are plenty of comfortable tables or booths and a bar – the perfect way to relax after a long day.
Returning to the boutique Hotel Indigo I was happy for the comfortable bed they provided before another long day of festival events before driving back to London.
Before we left Edinburgh I needed to do two things: buy a tartan hat for my Grandpa and take a photo of the Assembly with the Olympic rings outside. The perfect momento to finish an epic weekend in Edinburgh.