‘ No matter where you are, no matter what you are doing and no matter whom you are doing it with, when the words ‘Stop, Drop & Jol’ are uttered everyone in the close vicinity has to bust a move – drop a beat so to speak. Normally in a hunched over position, you have license to dance like no-one is watching and throw some serious shapes around.
It all started in Glasgow which is only a short train ride from the capital. This is the place where the Glasgow kiss originates from and believe me when I say that receiving a sweetly timed Glaswegian kiss means that the only bed you’ll end up sleeping in is in the emergency ward of your nearest walk-in clinic. So if you come across a chav-like girl, who is foaming at the mouth with a bottle of White Lightning firmly in her grip and she’s offering to nut you, I suggest politely declining and legging it to the nearest train station – your final destination, Edinburgh of course.
After hearing so much about this ancient city I was itching to get under way. I make way to the train, stopping briefly to pick up a few bottles of Buckfast. Buckfast or ‘wreck-the-hoose juice,’ a tonic wine that is brewed by Monks in an abbey in Devon. It tastes like medicine but makes you giggle like a little girl stuck in a vacuum of nitrous oxide. Highly recommended on my list of travel accessories. Nearly there. The train pulls into the station and not knowing where to go next, I get directions from a beach-bum stereotype who’s got a skateboard in one hand and chain in the other – attached to this is a hungry looking Rottweiler. In a rich Saffa accent that is typical of Cape Town, he tunes: “Ja bru. Just hook a left as soon as you come out the station and mission for about five minutes. You’ll walk past this kief church and then it’s just ahead of you…lekker bra.” So much for the authentic purr of the Scottish vernacular.
‘Stop, Drop & Jol.’
I’m jamming in my own little circle as he dishes out the directions. The confused look on this guys face was a definite photo opportunity but unfortunately, I’m not as well equipped to handle the happy-snap situation like you regular typical Japanese tourist on a hot sweaty day in Piccadilly Circus.
It turns out that the kief church Mr. Cape Town was talking about was actually our hostel. Walking through to our room with a bottle of ‘wreck-the-hoose juice’ I felt the need to repent. The beautiful stained glass windows creating a kaleidoscope of colour giving unbridled life into the very gothic ambience of our room. Bags down. Maps out and heading for the city. Good times.
The sun was just setting just as we made our way into the heart of the city so I was able to catch a glimpse of the view commanding Edinburgh Castle. Perched high above on ‘Castle Rock’, the sheer granite walls of the dormant volcanic rock cascade skywards forming the perfect pedestal for this magnificent structure. I stand in awe as its imposing presence looms over me. You suddenly appreciate the importance of this strategically placed fortress because the only way into this stronghold is up the ramp and through the front door and you’ve got to be prepared to lose a lot of soldiers before you even get half way.
Making my way down the narrow alleyways in search of the Grassmarket – the long winding street where you find all pubs, clubs and lounges – I allow myself to get lost. Every corner, every street has a little surprise to offer the everyday traveller. From boutique stores to ancient pubs, costume shops galore and what appears to be the Hogwarts School of Magic, which coincidentally is where J.K. Rowling found her inspiration, to whiskey distilleries and art museums, this cultural hub of Scotland leaves you wanting more and more until your senses are flooded with a feeling that can only be described as spectacular. A small hippie-like woman clad in white stops me dead in my tracks. Her face: sweet, innocent and mixed with a strange unnerving quality seems to be drawing me into to some sort of spiritual trap. She looks like she’s been listening to far too much Cat Stevens or is it the other way round… I give her £1. She hands me a book on “Spiritualism and How To Find The Inner You.” I take it gracefully and give her my word I will read it. Shame I couldn’t bring myself to lie to her miles of smiles. She teaches me a new word for happiness. Goranga. Only to be used when you can feel the love of the world – for her this was like every second.
‘Stop, Drop & Jol.’
I throw it down. We do a jig like no other and the sweetly insane hippie is bopping and weaving with us. GORANGA!
We finally make our way to the pub circuit. Everyone is kitted out in their Sunday best. Hundreds of groups of women, obviously on a hen’s night, are stumbling around the streets in various costumes – you name it they’re wearing it.. School teachers, nurses, air hostesses and cartoon characters, in fact any sort of fantasy a guy might have comes to life on a night out here. Not be outdone, I find a haggis hat and put it on. The tartan top and ginger hair coming out the sides is a complete showstopper and as I blend into character bellowing the words “YELDI” and “ALRIGHT PAL,” I officially welcome myself to Bonnie Scotland.
The nights out are always fun but to truly experience a new city you need to explore what makes it tick – the soul of it so to speak. The city itself is divided into the New & Old Towns – Old Town is a maze of secret passage ways and alleys giving life to the medieval core of the City. Beyond the Old Town, to the north is the classic Georgian-era New Town, which is one of Britain’s architectural gems.
‘Stop, Drop & Jol.’
The tour guide waits patiently as we commence the rhythm of dance. We set off again down one of Scotland’s famous streets – Princess Street. It grabs your attention straight away as you gaze out onto Princess Gardens. The luscious greens and rolling embankment offer the perfect way to spend a summer’s day and at the foot of the mound you come across the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland, both very astute institutions of all things artistic.
With an assortment of national monuments, hidden treasures and a picturesque backdrop that will wow you forever, Edinburgh is a definite must on any travel calendar. The charm of the city opens up to you and shares with you its illustrious past and welcomes you to in, allowing you to explore, enjoy and indulge as you etch in the lasting memory of this simply remarkable place.
Now, Stop, Drop & Jol!