It’s commonly understood that the best way to explore a new place is to go straight to the locals. Each week in the Urbanist, we take that wisdom one step further by seeking out not just locals but local experts — those who are especially well versed in their cities’ newest and most noteworthy scenes — to give us insider tips. This week, we asked theater director and playwright Eve Nicol, whose latest work, If You’re Feeling Sinister: A Play With Songs (adapted from Scottish band Belle and Sebastian’s album) will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from July 31 to August 26, for her recommendations in Scotland’s capital city.
“Edinburgh is a beautiful city and really unique topographically. How many other cities are built on top of an extinct volcano? It’s a city best enjoyed on the move. Get lost. Find new shortcuts and pathways between the buildings. Check out Victoria Street, which has a weird sort of Diagon Alley vibe of one street on top of another. It’s Edinburgh at its most Edinburghiness, but without the mania of the Royal Mile. Edinburgh is a really exciting place to be in August if you’re up for an adventure. There’s loads of theater, comedy, film, and music to enjoy with the festivals. I’m a big, big fan of the Edinburgh International Festival. It’s really come alive in the past couple of years. You’ll get massive operas and theater, high-profile musical acts from across the world. I love the grandeur of it. The quality of the work is always exceptional. This year I’m really excited to see National Theatre of Great Britain’s adaptation of Peter Gynt and National Theatre of Scotland’s Red Dust Road, an adaptation of Jackie Kay’s memoir.”
Her Other Musts
“Head to Portobello Beach for an ice cream and a paddle. You can pop on the train or the bus from the city center and get down there in about a half an hour. It’s a proper seaside. There’s an awful lot of surfing down there too. It’s just a really fantastic place to relax and chill out. It’s quite exposed and open, so you’re going to get battered by the east coast winds. There’s a lot of ice cream stalls there. Whatever is closest at hand is always going to do you a good job. Take the train to North Queensferry for the magical joy of crossing the Forth Rail Bridge. Once you’re there there’s not a whole lot to do but go back to Edinburgh again. But the trip out is magical. It does feel like you’re crossing into another kingdom. A day trip to Stirling is great. It’s another old old Scottish city. There’s where you’ll get your good castles. Stirling is about a 45 minute train ride, and trains to North Queensferry take about 20 minutes.”