How readers responded to tourist’s criticism of Edinburgh

Tourist hotspot, or hostile mess? What do you think? Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Tourist hotspot, or hostile mess? What do you think? Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Have your say

Grace Migliaccio’s letter to the Evening News kicked up a social media storm after we published it on our website yesterday. Here are some of the responses.

It’s only dirty if you look down, so try looking up

The first time I visited Edinburgh, it was in the middle of festival season of 1996, and I fell in love.

I returned as a tourist in 1999, then as student for three weeks at the University of Edinburgh in 2002 and again for six weeks in 2003. Still entranced with the city, I decided to earn my MSc in Literature at the uni and I moved to Edinburgh for a year.

I’ve been through six festival seasons in Edinburgh. Let me address Ms Migliaccio and her complaints.

Yes, Edinburgh is fairly dirty in parts. There’s a good deal of litter, the Cowgate and many closes reek of urine, and there’s usually vomit under every other tree in the Meadows on a Sunday morning.

But it is only dirty if you look down. Try looking up – at the Castle, at the Crags.

Maybe the parking system is stupid, but a young, healthy person does not need a car in the city. I’m from the western US; we’re known for driving everywhere. But I never felt the need for a car in Edinburgh. Everything is walkable. And the buses are great. You don’t need a car in the city. One of the things I loved about Edinburgh was how friendly people are. Your complaints, Ms Migliaccio, sound to me as if you were blaming others for being happy when you wanted to sulk. That could happen in any city in the world. Don’t blame the Scots.

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities in the whole world. I’d move there again if I could.

Lisa Shafer

An impression of overall coldness

It has been several years since I have visited Edinburgh, a city I really love (one of the few).

On the whole, I would say that the letter by Grace Migliaccio was correct – unfortunately. Had I not had a relative who actually lived there, I would have found the city to be very much as she said.

Certainly parking is a catastrophe. There isn’t enough of it, and what there is is 
inconvenient; the fees are high when you can find a spot, and there is no way for someone from elsewhere to pay them.

The buildings are somewhat grimy – though much less so than when I first came to Edinburgh, some 50 years ago – but that is more or less to be expected.

What is not expected is the level of trash and debris on the streets – not just in the main shopping or tourist areas, but in the residential districts as well, and in odd corners of many of the otherwise beautiful 

I rarely had occasion to use the more common tourist venues and restaurants – and when I did I usually had my relative with me, and let her do the talking. I did have an impression of an overall coldness, however.

Jamie Hall

Everything’s not at all as it should be

I CONSIDER Edinburgh to be one of the most beautiful, fascinating and intriguing cities I have ever visited. This is why I felt extremely sad to observe that the city was not at all as it should be.

• Extremely dirty (even the graveyards are full of trash and used as shelters for homeless).

• Way too much traffic for such a city (it should have much more restricted areas).

I found myself having a hard time getting into the charm and character of the city in between so much negative distraction. I hope somebody will be able 
to do something to help resurrect the old spirit and glory of Edinburgh.


It’s not hostile but definitely dirty

IT’S not hostile but definitely dirty. I’m just back from a holiday in Crete and it was clean and tidy and noticed straight away how dirty and rubbish-strewn the city centre streets of Edinburgh are.

The parking system in Edinburgh is an expensive mess, especially bus lanes when you can park outwith the peak times, tourists must get caught out all the time.

Roger Manson

Ashamed of state of Princes Street

I TOTALLY agree with this tourist. I am born and bred in Edinburgh and over 60 and am ashamed of the state of Princes Street and all the rubbish at these fast food chains. Hope the new guy at the council takes heed.

Mags Taylor

Not as rude as a native New Yorker

TO me it seems that this lady just has a problem with Edinburgh. She states she has 
visited New York, San Francisco, London etc. She also states that it’s difficult to park in Edinburgh, yet she’s never had a problem in other places.

Now I’m from New York, I live in Albany, which is the capital of the state and I have been to New York City on several occasions.

Apparently this lady overlooked the trash, rubbish and rudeness of native New Yorkers. I’m not sure what happened to have this lady write such a horrifying letter to you all. It could have something to do with her own attitude, personality or whatever one wishes to call it.

So, personally, I just believe that her letter is her way of getting her revenge on Edinburgh.

Alice A Mason

Auld Reekie means buildings are sooty

I SUPPOSE we couldn’t chastise the woman for not knowing that Edinburgh is also known as Auld Reekie, so hence the sooty buildings.

However, I do agree with the rest of her complaints. Edinburgh has pretty well reinvented the art of rip off and rudeness which is a terrible shame.

Fraser Craig

Scots are world’s friendliest people

I JUST read the article about what that person said about Edinburgh. I can tell you that my cousin and I just got back from a trip to Scotland which lasted ten days. We spent three days in Edinburgh and what I experienced was nothing like what that woman is saying.

My cousin and I found the streets to be clean and the shopkeepers were friendly and helpful. We also ate in restaurants while we were there and again found the restaurant staff very friendly, never rude or hostile.

Would definitely go back to Scotland again, the Scots are the friendliest people in the world.

Carol Martell

Maybe this lady was just unlucky

I’m Portuguese. I was in Edinburgh in 2012 and I’m writing to you to let you know what I thought about Grace Migliaccio’s review of your city.

The city is naturally dark, but I find that is part of its charm. Yes, maybe the buildings could be cleaner, but I don’t think that is a great fault (have you ever considered taking the general traffic out of the centre? That could help). I do not agree, at all, about the hostility and indifference; on the contrary. Maybe she was unlucky (or maybe I was lucky). Everyone was very nice. About parking in Edinburgh, I must say I think it was a big mistake of her to take the car there. OK, maybe that doesn’t excuse the city for not having available parking for the thousands of tourists visiting every day, but, nevertheless, she should have researched a little bit more about Edinburgh before going there.

I believe her experience was “stained” by the fact that she had a hard time getting proper parking and by the fact that a person didn’t change her note for coins immediately. She decided that no Scottish person could be positive and cheerful. I tell you, I found plenty of them.

Of course the city is not perfect, none is. And there is always room for improvement. But it’s a great city to visit. I loved the experience and miss it so very much. If I could I would be there again tomorrow.

Sara Jofre


‘I have visited twice and fallen in love with your city’

Laura Eekhof: “I have visited twice by myself. Both times in October and I have fallen in love with your city. I am often ‘homesick’ for Edinburgh. Lovely people, beautiful city. No experience with parking, though. But hostile people? No way!”

Alison Monteith: “I have to say I totally disagree. I was born in Edinburgh and moved to San Francisco in 1994. All my family still live in Edinburgh so I visit about once a year with my kids. Just got back from a two-week holiday last week and have to say I met only friendly, sincere, nice people everywhere I went.”

Jaxs Joys: “I work in Haymarket. As a gateway into Edinburgh it is disgusting. Bins, rubbish, blocked roads. Make it a cheerful entrance. Also Tollcross needs an uplift – dull, dreary and dirty. Look after residents, not just tourists.”

Birrell Pitcaithly: “It’s no worse than any other major city. It’s tourists that litter the streets not locals. You want filthy go to Paris, you want hostile go to any city in Germany.”

@aweebi-irdtoldme: “These are surely isolated incidents – I don’t want to believe my city would behave like that.”

@weebod: “Big problem with rubbish. As for the rest, she does sound like a bit of a whinger. She should have used public transport.”

@brybrox: “Totally agree with the litter, all the rubbish bins around the city centre always seem to be overflowing, with birds at them.”

@srhouston: “Not to mention constant roadworks. City is a shambles.”


‘It is a good place to chill, and it has the best pubs’

Bill Andrews, 62, Maryland, US: “It is very nice city. Have you seen New York? This is much nicer. It is ancient, spanning over many centuries; it is going to have old buildings – they are not dirty, they are old.”

Gail Andrews, 57, Maryland, US: “For a city this is not bad. Look at London – that is unclean. Everyone we have met has been helpful, kind, gracious.”

Shannon Ellinas, 32, Johannesburg: “It has been really clean so far, but it is a city – they are going to be dirty.”

Shaun Reyneke, 33, Johannesburg: “It is the best city in the UK, no doubt. It is beautiful. The architecture still has a rich culture. So far everyone has been pretty friendly. Scottish people in general are pretty friendly.”

Clauder Felipe, 30, Brazil: “It is a gorgeous city, it is our second time here. It is a little bit medieval – the mood is right. Scotland is much more friendly than Ireland and England.”

Ernest, 63, and Sally Dobson, 57, Northumberland: “We come to Edinburgh six or seven times a year. We even met here. It is a fabulous place – it is our favourite destination. The train journey is easy and there is so much to do. It is also a good place to chill, and has the best pubs. People are friendly, and there is always a good mix of any age. It is dirty because that is part of the history of the place – the buildings just have a bit of soot on it. We once met some Americans in Sicily who went straight home as it was so dirty.

Yann, 35, France: “The city is amazing – I like all the buildings. They are maybe a bit black, but it is charming.”