I've spent almost half of the last 2 months in Edinburgh. I've been there 4 times this year and written about it already but with the departure of my main reason for visiting, I bid the fair city farewell. Perhaps one day, when the tram works are finished, I will return for a while - but that could be years away yet.
We left Corfu and stayed 2 nights in London with our favorite Couchsurfing host, who threw a party in our honour. All of 5 people attended but it was a long night - too long for me as I was sent to bed for falling asleep during conversation. We flew back to Edinburgh where I whiled away the day wandering, sitting in the park, buying VHS movies for 20p at the car boot sale and then viewing them on a 'video cassette player' (look it up in the history books). There is a certain romantic charm in watching Beauty and the Beast with a grown man who knows all the words to the songs and claims the Ballroom Scene to be his favorite. Bless.
By this, my third visit, I'd made some friends and we had pub crawls and karaoke nights to attend. I had some gay clubbing to do also, and it was in the front bar of one such establishment that I pinky-swore with my friend Doug to get my nose pierced if he got a tattoo. I'd actually attempted to do this on my birthday in Athens, but it was Sunday and the requisite specialist was not available. So Doug and I set a date, postponed it by a day, then followed through. Call it youthful rebellion (my Mum called me a hippy?) but it didn't hurt as much as I thought it might and I had the sight of Doug being permanently inked to keep my mind off the cork up my nose and the large needle looming over me.
Interrupted by a trip to Sweden and a photography course in London, my life in Edinburgh was otherwise happy and comfortable. In August, my fourth encounter, I was lucky to catch the start of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the largest Fringe festival in the world (coincidentally, the second largest is in Adelaide, one thing I am really looking forward to when I go home). The streets were filled with buskers, promo teams and charity collectors, not to mention a million tourists (literally). From blind theatre to interpretive dance and stand-up comedy, I saw a range of shows and can happily say they were all special in their own way - Tim Tams stuck down the front of flesh-toned g-strings was a first, but nonetheless artsy. I also attended a housewarming as a pink, flowery KKK member and passed the Meet the Parents Test (not the same event, thankfully).
So what do I take away from all this, the city that has featured so frequently in my European adventure? Well, I have an improved Scottish accent, lots of Canadian friends, a partner-in-crime (neither Scottish or Canadian but still charming), and a few good photos. I also have my birthday present, a Scottish Luckenbooth charm. Heart-shaped and surmounted by the crown of Mary Queen of Scots, it is decorated with the Scottish Thistle and hangs around my neck to remind me of everything I love about the city that was my second home away from home.