Robert the Bus offers double decker dining service around Edinburgh

When Agnieszka Napierala arrived in Scotland 12 years ago she could barely afford a bus ticket and now she’s in charge of an Edinburgh double decker dining service.

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 8:45 am
Aga and Martin refurbished the ex-Lothian bus to bring it back to the Capital

She, along with her partner Martin Wilson, are the brains behind Bustourant, which combines tours around the Capital with serving Scottish dishes with a twist.

Agnieszka, known as Aga, travelled to Scotland in 2007 with a friend and Edinburgh left a lasting impression on her so they made plans to return.

“I was a student in Poland before coming here so we tried to save some money. I was studying full-time and trying to do extra work and I managed to get together 500 zloty which is about £100,” said Aga. “That’s what I came here with – in Poland that’s quite a lot of money. Or it used to be. For here it wasn’t so much. I didn’t have many plans at that stage. I’m very spontaneous so something like this happening never crossed my mind.”

The bus was beautifully painted by graffiti artist, Rogue One

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Aga said: “We first of all started doing AirBnB and met a lot of interesting people and heard lots of stories through that and they told us we could do more for Scottish tourism.

“I don’t remember when the idea for the bus actually came up. I know Martin came home one day and said he had spoken to a man who had a bus and asked if I was up for it, but it took me 24 hours to say yes.”

Around 18 months ago, the two of them purchased an ex-Lothian bus and turned it into what is now affectionately known as Robert the Bus, after Scottish hero, Robert the Bruce.

Martin is putting his chef's hat on on the bus

Martin said: “Once we found out what we could do with the bus from the DVSA, we found out we could do more than we thought.

“I used to be a chef on Lord of the Glen, but I have also worked at a company that did pop-up restaurants, and the idea came about by thinking how we could combine food and Scottish tourism.

“Considering the age of the bus, it is in phenomenal condition. It was previously a Lothian reserve bus from what we gather.”

The bus exterior was completed by Glasgow graffiti artist Rogue One and boasts a stunning picture of a Highland cow in a Scottish landscape.

Aga herself did the upholstery, which Martin said has now turned into a hobby of hers.

He added: “Aga did all the upholstery, she practised and the result was amazing and it has just spawned – on to our kitchen seats and next she wants to do the sofa.

“I think it is the staple gun which she finds fun to use.”

The kitchen space is also a luxury to him.

“One boat I have worked on was tiny, you could touch all four walls just standing in it, so this is huge!” Martin said. “It is about 15 square metres and it’s a galley style kitchen so there’s plenty of space.”

The evening tea tour is 150 minutes and takes in coastal views including the Queensferry Crossing and Cramond Island.

From bespoke afternoon tea trays to inch perfect slots for milk jugs to fit into it, the design of the bus is as much a work of art as the dishes being served.

Aga added: “Safety and security has always been so important as we knew we’d be handling liquids and hot food. It needs to be rigid and spacious.

“A mechanical engineer had to think about all the details for how the bus will react when it’s on the road, how all the trays will sit, the slates with the food on and what it’ll be like when we walk up the stairs.”

The food offers a taste of traditional Scotland with a twist to tourists.

“Scotland obviously has a lot of traditional foods but we didn’t just want to serve it as it is, we wanted to add something extra so it sounds interesting and people want to try it,” said Aga,

“So although it’s haggis, it’s haggis bon bons, and although it’s salmon, it’s cured in Brewdog’s Elvis IPA.”

The tours take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the afternoon tea tour departing at 3pm and the evening tour departing at 6.30pm and can be booked on the company's website.For the latest reviews, recommendations and openings in Edinburgh and everything you need to have a good night - join our new Facebook group here.