Things to do in Edinburgh when you’re visiting - Vladimir McTavish

Despite having lived in Edinburgh for over 20 years, I have only recently discovered Mary’s Milk Bar in the Grassmarket.

Every day during the Fringe last month, I would walk past a very long queue which I had thought must be waiting to get into a sell-out show. I then noticed they were lining up outside a shop so I had assumed it must be a front for sone illicit criminal activity such as drugs or prostitution. I then realised that there were children and whole families in the queue. Someone explained to me that they were lining up to buy ice cream. A friend of mine waited forty-five minutes in the queue. That’s three-quarters of an hour, or half a football game.

This piqued my interest. Why were so many people spending so much time standing patiently just to buy a gelato ? It can’t surely be that much better than the other numerous local outlets.

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Apparently it’s on a list of Ten Things You Must Do in Edinburgh. I get it now. People will do anything to tick a box on a list of Things To Do in a tourist destination. What I don’t understand is who comes up with these lists ? Tenth on the list of Things You Must See in Liverpool used to be the gents’ toilets in The Philharmonic pub. Admittedly, they are quite impressive but at the end of the day, they are still just somewhere blokes go to have a pee.

Top of the list of tourist attractions in Dunedin, our sister city in New Zealand, is The World’s Steepest Street. I’ve seen it, it’s very steep, but it’s just a street.

Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, home to the largest arts festival in the world. It has an iconic castle and a park with an extinct volcano. It has a hill with a faux-Grecian folly offering panoramic views of Scotland’s capital. It has some wonderful museums and art galleries. It has two underachieving football clubs whose fans can still generate an awesome match day atmosphere. Our New Year celebrations are the envy of the World.

Who in their right mind would think there are only nine better things to do than wait three-quarters of an hour to buy an ice-cream?

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