If it’s Wednesday, it must be Edinburgh

10 Jan

A written warning to organizers of school trips to Europe, who try to pack in too many places in too short a time.

I was in a bookstore in Edinburgh yesterday, when I encountered a frazzled-looking young lady staring blankly at the shelves. In the minute or so she stood next to me in silence, she didn’t pick up a book to look at. She just stood there. At last, she asked me, who my favorite author was. A difficult question to answer. I made a few suggestions, and in the ensuing conversation it emerged that she was on a school trip from North Carolina.

“Really? That’s where I’m from,” I said. “Are you here for New Year?”

She let out a massive sigh. “School trip?”

That sigh and her general expression spoke volumes. Her group had arrived the previous night in a cold dreary January Edinburgh, most of which is a building site thanks to the disastrous tram project, been whisked round the castle and the Royal Mile and maybe some other places she couldn’t remember. They were taking the train down to London that night, the last stop in a trip which had taken in 3 days in Ireland (always at its best in the depths of winter, especially for a group precluded by their tender years from entering those establishments able to provide the traditional solace) and a night in Wales. Poor souls!

At the root of the problem – the persistent notion that a “tour” of the UK consisting of a few days in London with a one-day trip to Edinburgh to be able to say you have “done Scotland” is worth the bother. The solution – dump the English part of the trip, visit Edinburgh and then the Highlands. And, for heaven’s sake, do it in the summer!


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