• Kirsten Conrad

My Weekend at the Edinburgh Fringe

If you’re planning on visiting the UK, please put Edinburgh on your list of stops. While London has my heart, Edinburgh is easily one of my favorite cities I have ever been to. It boasts the café where JK Rowling scribbled her idea for Harry Potter on napkins, and it is so easy to see how the city inspired her vision of Hogwarts. Seriously, it’s that magical. The entire city looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale - from winding cobble stone streets to pastel painted shops, medieval architecture, hilly landscapes with a sea tucked between, and even a castle on a hill. I could walk the same streets over and over and still find myself catching my breath.

This summer was my second time visiting Edinburgh for the fringe festival. The Edinburgh Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival. Every day in august, hundreds of shows are on throughout the day and night. These include comedy shows, musicals, plays, magicians, children’s shows, etc. They also have many free shows along the with paid shows. My boyfriend, Tomas, is a mind reader and this was his third year bringing a show to the festival. I went to visit and see his show for a week last year, and oh my goodness did I pack wrong. It’s August! Of course I can wear a skirt! Wrong. One of my favorite little art shops I have ever been in is in Edinburgh, called the Red Door Gallery, and in it they have a print that reads, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter.” I learned very quickly how true this was. I showed up that first year with a suitcase full of skirts and dresses and light cardigans. Bringing a show to the Ed Fringe usually requires a lot of advertising, so I spent that first day shaking on the famous Victoria Street handing out flyers for Tomas’ show. I quickly caved and bought a jacket.

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Tomas has done 3 years at the Fringe

All the wiser this year, I set out for another trip to Scotland. I arrived on a Thursday afternoon, and after I got checked in to the AirBnB, I joined Tomas’ parents for a cider and a seat to watch Tomas’ show. I never get tired watching him do what he loves. Afterwards, we went to a pub on the Royal Mile, which is one of the main streets in Edinburgh. During the fringe, it’s packed with street performers and curious spectators. We then headed to an evening pub quiz style show that featured Tomas as the guest. The pub quiz format was that the audience were playing against Tomas (audience won, sorry T!). Following the show, Tomas and I then meandered the streets and found ourselves at a rooftop bar overlooking the city to celebrate my first night in Edinburgh.

Friday morning, we headed out for a day full of shows. We started off seeing a free cabaret show featuring a variety of different comedians, one of whom was from Texas, so you already know she was my favorite. She did a rendition of bible camp music that would hit home for every Texan that was sent off to summer camp. We had a break for lunch in the famous Elephant Café, or the “birthplace of Harry Potter.” This is fun to do if you’re a big Harry Potter nerd like I am, but otherwise I think the prices are on the higher side for the quality of food you get. They can get away with this because they have crowds of people out front and a line out the door. If you’re not too fussed about HP then I would skip this because there are a lot of great cafes to eat at with less crowds.

We then split up so Tomas could get ready for his show, and I went to go see an improvised musical. I’m not sure how people are able to improvise musical numbers, but they did, and I was thoroughly entertained. I perused the many outdoor festival food trucks and pop up bars for dinner and a drink before an evening mind reading show from Luke Jermay. HE WAS SO COOL but also I am a sap. He basically had audience members write down a question on a piece of paper and then he blindfolded himself and picked up papers at random. He would state the age and name of the person who wrote the question (while blindfolded with the paper still folded) and then predict the answer to their question. He picked my paper and my question was if Tomas was the person I’d marry. Lame, I know. I panicked. He said he felt it was a happy and fulfilling relationship and the answer is yes, on a Wednesday. Wednesday?? You don’t have to be a mind reader to tell me that’s not going to happen. It was a blast though.

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The winds at Arthur's Seat were... strong!

Saturday morning, Tomas and I headed to Arthur’s seat for a morning hike. If you live in Austin, Texas, I’m sure you are familiar with Mount Bonnell. If you aren’t familiar with this “hike” in Austin that I have been accustomed to, it is basically a glorified set of stairs up to a lookout. I assumed this Arthur’s seat hike would be the same. So wrong, again. While it wasn’t terribly difficult, it was much more of a hike than I had realized, but the view was gorgeous. You see the whole city on one side, and the sea on the other. We then headed back for some lunch and rest before Tomas’s evening shows. He was doing two shows on Saturday night and both sold out that day!!

We went to a late night cabaret with some friends and stopped after for a midnight snack pizza. I left on Sunday after stopping by the Hula café for some coffee and a cake. I said goodbye to Tomas, who still had another two weeks left at the fringe. Holding hands all the way to my train, we couldn’t stop smiling about how much fun the weekend was.

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