When I got it stuck in my head I wanted to do Hogmanay, the Edinburgh New Year’s Festival, it had to happen. Like many of my head-fast ideas, I know I want to do something but I often have nil to zilch reasoning behind it.
Nonetheless from a cold dark bar in Bucharest the money was spent to trek all the way to Edinburgh. Get me to the parade!
I took the easy way out and booked a tour with Haggis Adventures, with one of the girls I did Contiki in Italy with. Now I’m not an avid organised tour fan but under the circumstances it suited me jussssst fine.
Flying into Edinburgh before the tour started, I booked myself a couple of nights in an 8-bed dorm (ultimate dorm size IMO, more people but more room space generally) at Budget Backpackers. Despite some difficulty getting warm showers, I couldn’t recommend this place enough. Friendly staff, bar and food onsite, quality kitchen, and awesome treehouse chill out area, plus it’s one of the cheapest around. And I certainly made the most of my money. I slept round the clock the first night, blamed on the unfortunate way I left Bucharest…
With an early morning WizzAir flight, I decided the best route was not to sleep, have a few drinks and walk to the bus stop in the wee hours. With a hangover forming, my suitcase breaks less than 100m from leaving the hostel. I drag this ridiculous thing by an aluminium pole to the bus stop I can’t seem to find. Wailing around Plaza Unirii I find what I think is it, flag down the bus, and hurl my bags on. The bus moves 20m to the next stop and stops. For 30 minutes! I do make it to my flight just in time thanks to an internal desire to always leave early.
With a sleep-deprived arrival, my introduction to Edinburgh is a friendly chatty taxi driver and I enter the city with my usual smile of awe and excitement. Gosh darn, I just know I’m gonna like it here.
Post hibernation I get out and explore. The Castle is worth a session. So is booking your tickets online. I waited an hour to buy them while other smartasses breezed through. The Edinburgh Castle is the perfect mix of history and creepiness and you get plenty of bang (museums) for your buck.
I find my way to our tour group’s hostel, which is so devoid of character it resembles a hospital. Great beds, and rapey insane pressure shower. Luckily my five roommates for the tour have enough personality to well and truly make up for what the hostel lacks. Room 306 is definitely a winner.
There’s the usual tour meet-up, get the bus at this time, come to these events, blah blah, but there’s also a ton of free time and we barely see our guide. So we get onto enjoying the city and each other’s company for the next few days.
We spectated the torch procession. The numbers of people marching here are unimaginable. The number of burns victims is. But it is jaw-dropping-how-cool-is-this stuff.
Soon the time was upon us for why we all gathered here. Freedom! No that’s ol’ blue face Wallace (well not quite). New Year’s freakin Eve. The most overrated night of the year was about to became one for the ages. Where did I spend 2013 NYE? Oh that’s right, Hogmanay Edinburgh, perhaps you’ve heard of it. Boom.
We put together our warming outfits, sculled our warming drinks, and hid our bottles of further thermal insurance in our hoods. Genius. Except there’s no need. You can legally bring in a plastic bottle of New Year’s cheer.
Midnight at home in Australia seems to take a lot longer to reach. Perhaps it’s our penchant for day drinking. But in Europe, midnight is usually when things are just getting started. So what I’m trying to say is, before we knew it, it was midnight. Post gigs by CHVRCHES and Django Django, the countdown began and so too did the kissing, hugging and insanest fireworks I (n)ever saw. From what I hear, amazing stuff.
I brought in 2014 trying to find people without phone reception, dancing, hugging and a sneaky cheesy. Okay there was two, one of which was for my friend I felt the need to explain (lie) to the poor girl who spent her New Year’s serving drunks at McDonalds.
This lonesome traveller walked home alone, woke up dusty to a room that (eventually) contained six girls laughing about the evening’s adventures. Christian group abductions and blurry make-outs tipped the gossip iceberg.