Edinburgh Diary

My four days in Edinburgh

Monday, September 04, 2006

Overall Impressions:

I had four days to do the festival, and it was not enough, especially as there are other things to see. Do the math: there are over 1800 shows, and all I could possibly hope to do is get a sense as to what it all about. There is a frenzy about the festival that I have not seen elsewhere, and try as hard as I could, I couldn't shake the tourist syndrome. Like first-time arrivers to NYC who stare at the tall buildings, I could not help gawking at the street performers. Along High Street, also called The Royal Mile, you see excerpts for shows going on, full street shows, people trying to get you to go to their show by handing out flyers.

High Street is located at the top of a hill--no surprise with a name like that--and it slopes upward, with a castle at each end. At the very high point Edinburgh Castle is located:

You can see in the photo that the Scots tended to building their castles high on cliffs.

There is a section closed off to traffic where everyone gathers, and where the primary Fringe office is located. You'll find along the closed off stretch of High Street comedians, musicians (traditional Scottish and other), acrobats, jugglers, sections of shows, and people painted and gotten up like statues. One group that I particularly enjoyed were the Asian tap dancers. They were Michael Jackson wanna-bes.

Throughtout Scotland you are never far from the sound of Bagpipes, and when I approached the Edinburgh castle I started to hear them. Actually there were 2 groups, one near the castle consisting of two pipers, and further on down the street a piper with two highland dancers. Both were good.

Because of the crowd, I could only get one dancer in the photograph.

From the Fringe shop, I picked up the program, a sumptuous booklet listing all the programs for the month. Each day you can pick up a summary of what is happening that day. How do you choose? This had me befuddled. Since most of the shows are of new material, you don't have a frame of reference. You can try to see which ones received good reviews; you can see the excerpts along the Royal Mile and decide which ones looked interesting; you can go by reputation or name; you can pick according to location and time; by venue; by subject matter. I did a little of all this.

Choosing carefully and wisely, I'm not sure I made the best choices, but it is difficult to see anything bad at the Fringe.

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