The American Edinburgh

By: Ieuan Dolby

The American Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a lovely place to visit and to live in. Voted as one of the nicest and most picturesque cities in Europe it gives a sense of wonderment to all that roam the streets for adventure, relaxation or just plain having to go to work. Large buildings stand majestically next to the older and less imposing structures, each complimenting the other. Windy streets cross easily over the new whilst cobblestones fit easy patterns next to newly laid tarmac. All who visit gain a real sense of living for the future and of being part of history and culture that is ever so much part of what Edinburgh is all about today!

Edinburgh as the Capital of Scotland has an extremely large and important financial community and structure. Education with many well known and respected Universities brings many an International Student to Edinburgh, and Museums and historic sites brings tourists in droves at any time of the year. Yes, the old sits well with the new in an old City steeped in culture and vibrating with future prospects and everlasting importance in global stature.

Edinburgh has an excellent transportation system partly built around the Double Decker Bus. It was on one of these that an American Couple sat having recently arrived in Edinburgh on a Tourist Package from some corner of the USA. Typically American they sat there discussing the sights as they passed them and tried in the time allotted to read all in the 101 guide books that were sprayed all over their seats, the floor and neighboring chairs.

Nothing unusual you may say? And you are right! American tourists make up a large portion of visitors to Edinburgh. Japanese, Australians and fellow EC Members make up the rest. I suppose though that Americans and Japanese tourists tend to stand out more than do the French or German visitors.

For example, one will always spot a Japanese tourist from miles away as he is invariably bowed under a mass of tangled cameras and supports as he tries to get a photograph of Princess Street or the Royal Mile. At that point the observer always becomes surprised at the size and scale of the equipment wondering what has happened to the ‘Instamatic’ that was heralded as the equal to all else! Yes, Japanese tourists are always well noted for carrying cameras of disproportionate dimensions and seem to struggle in their efforts to set them up suitably.

Regardless, let us return to Americans. Yes, Americans tend to come to Edinburgh for special reasons and one of these is to “find their roots". Find the Tartan of McDougal as three hundred years ago they were once related or so they say…..All Americans have Scottish Roots! Strange but true! Others come just as tourists but well equipped with all that America has to offer on the touristic spots of Edinburgh and then they buy more on arrival. Maps, guide books and tape dialogues seem to pour out of their pockets, their hair and any other place that one could possible imagine. They do in fact seem to spend more time pouring over these advice leaflets than actually looking at the historic sites under review.

Well, on this fine day the two Americans sat far back on the bus trying to find a picture and associated literature regarding the Scott Monument. Unfortunately and as typical in this sort of situation the bus meandered along at a rapid pace and turned onto the road that leads past Waverly Station (Edinburgh’s Rail Station) and up and around to the Bridges and what would then lead onto The Royal Mile and the Old City.

If one passes the entrances to The Station it is typical to have the amazing and wonderful site of the old and famous castle of Edinburgh on the left and high up, and the station on the right and low down (not easy to distinguish). So one would normally watch and look at the Castle on the right or the Bank of Scotland Building ahead or some other historical site of wonderment that graces the whole city. Our American friends of course where busy with their books and pamphlets, having now found the Scott Monument but discarded that as it was well and far behind them by then.

Edinburgh Castle receives well over 1,000,000 million visitors every year and is where the famous and yearly Military Tattoo is held during the Festival Period. Built on the Rock, which was first used long before the Romans ever thought about sailing up the Forth River the oldest and still remaining building is over 900years old. As one of Britains biggest Tourist attractions its long and turbulent history is well documented and reveals that never once was the castle taken by storm. The Castle to this day stands alone and proud above the Capital of Scotland, showing to all a symbol of all that is Scottish.

As the Bus turned away from Princess Street and passed the Railway Station, the husband having momentarily forgotten his search for the relevant literature and having accidentally glanced out of the window, was in immediate awe of the castle as they sailed under it. Turning to his wife who was bent in a double-jointed manner under the seat and presumably looking for the book titled “Edinburgh Castle" he said in a voice filled with respect and awe, “darlingHealth Fitness Articles, do you know why they built the castle so near to the railway station?"

Ieuan Dolby
October 2002

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