My task. Provide my visiting friend. who is a highly educated, well travelled biologist from Prague in the Czech Republic, a memorable tour of my beloved Edinburgh City. On it.
Edinburgh is the perfect city for me. It’s a deep swamp of stories and legends with a history just as dark and dank. I believe that a soul of a city exists within its nooks and crannies, saturating the narrow corridors and back alleys, haunting the underground businesses and the businesses that are underground. There is more to do here than you could possibly manage in a handful of days.
Nevertheless, we tried.
- A live gig at Legends.
- Vegetarian burritos at Mariachi.
Legends is a stylish pub/club between Cowgate and The Grassmarket and is a popular venue for students, creatives, musicians and people who enjoy good drink and pleasant company. It is the sort of place that naturally creates stories and you’re guaranteed to meet some interesting people you’ll know for the rest of your life. Definitely worth a visit.
The City of Edinburgh is synonymous with performance art and theatre with the Edinburgh Fringe drawing in musicians, actors, comedians and performers from around the world. During the other times of the year the city boasts some of the busiest entertainment venues and there is always something happening; be it live comedy, live music, like performance or just someone who’s had a lot to drink and thinks that standing on a table and singing Take Me Home isn’t a cry for help :).
Mariachi is a Mexican restaurant on Victoria Street opposite the Harry Potter Museum, which is also well worth a visit if you’re a fan (although, as the shop is very authentic and the wands look very real I imagine there have been more than a few disappointed tears from children who gave one of them a wave and saw nothing). The restaurant serves Mexican dishes at its finest, is always busy and for a good reason. Their food is delicious and suited my guest’s vegetarian pallet perfectly. Incidentally, those Marvel fans would probably recognise Victoria Street from one of the Avengers films.
- A terrifying visit to Surgeons Hall on Nicholson Street.
- Axe Throwing at Black Axe Throwing, Summerhall Crescent.
Modern surgery owes a great debt of thanks to Edinburgh, which was for many years ahead of the field in Britain. This was during a period when barbers (those who cut hair and beards) were often employed as surgeons because they owned really sharp knives. If you’re thinking that sounds a bit like Sweeney Todd- it’s the right sort of mental image to have. The Surgeons Hall is a vast display of medical samples from every part of the human body, showcasing what can often go wrong. It also has a display of early and modern surgical instruments ranging from scissors and chisels to highly advanced robotics.
For a factophile like me, it left me drooling, but if I’m honest with myself, I’m happy believing that my body is filled with sugary mist and caffeine vapour. Ignorance is sometimes bliss. But it is a beautiful and important display and no history or science fan’s visit to the city would be complete without it.
Axe throwing has seen a huge rise in popularity recently, for no small thanks to the likes of Jason Momoa who’s enthusiasm for the sport has made him and it a popular theme. Black Axe in LOCATION is one of the most popular in Edinburgh and over a wonderful hour or hurling throwing axes at a wooden target I’ve never felt more in touch with the wild viking warrior who lives in all of us and wishes to be let loose in a safe and manageable environment.
- A leisurely stroll up a mountain.
A dragon once fell asleep upon the peak after gouging itself on the pillaged food from Scotland, whereas King Arthur Pendragon slayed it and sat upon its head. This is one of the legends of Arthur’s Seat. Not an arduous mountain by any means, I have friends who run up it every morning instead of having a cup of coffee and the paths have been worn by the feet of thousands of tourists seeking to see this part of Scotland from the wondrous vantage point. It’s definitely worth the walk. Also even at its busiest there are still loads of grassy areas to sit and enjoy a wonderful picnic with olives, crusty bread, cheese and wine. Perfection.
- A tour of the South Bridge crypts by Auld Reekie Tours.
Edinburgh’s history is dark and the history of the South Bridge even more so. The tours get you right into the dark crypts and are as educational as they are entertaining. Those seeking experiences with the paranormal are brought very close to it here and those seeking history and stories are in for a treat. The tour is detailed in its description and thoroughly researched, leaving you wanting to explore more about this city and its incredible past.
- Posh night at the Jazz Club.
Had to be done, we dressed in our suits and finest tailorings and hit the Cowgate for a spot of well earned drinking and posh-speaking. Having left it a bit late however we ended up in the Jazz Club, on Chambers Street enjoying both their selection of spirits as well as some fantastic funk jazz. Compliments to the bouncer for totally selling us on the event. The venue is reminiscent of those Gatsby era dime novels that our parents had on their bookshelves where everyone looks like a secret agent and a femme fatale.
I can’t wait for the next tour.