Near Death Experiences in Edinburgh

On Thursday the 19th of September I made a shallow complaint on my Instagram story feeling sorry for myself. I was sitting in front of my laptop breaking out in spots while all my influencer friends were walking the runway the next day for the London Queer Fashion Show. Now I HATE being that guy who complains about not being as successful as his friends – success is a relative thing, and throughout my life I’ve experienced the ‘always the bridesmaid never the bride’ a LOT. But I’ve also had my share of successes as well; getting invited to the London Queer Fashion show simply wasn’t one of them.

This isn’t surprising – I don’t get invited to many things that my other creative friends do, and that’s okay. But every once in awhile it’s nice to complain, and this Thursday I let my frustrations out on social media – a fateful thing to do. My pal Ava Holtzman responded to my story soon after however saying ‘Fight them smh come to Edinburgh we can do a shoot :P’

I had actually briefly discussed visiting Ava while she was in Edinburgh, but I figured I probably didn’t have the money or the time. So I responded back saying that I would love to but that I would need a place to stay because I’m poor. She responded saying that she had a place I could stay – so the only thing between me and an EPIC adventure in Edinburgh with Ava was train tickets. I have a ‘young persons railcard’ so I was able to shave off nearly a hundred pounds off the tickets, which ultimately came to about £100. Honestly, £100 to spend a couple nights in Edinbugh with a wonderful pal is well worth it to me. I also had the idea to turn it into a work trip and make a travel vlog out of the adventure – which, thanks to the (still unbelievable) support of my Patrons I could take out of my YouTube funds. So soon I was on a Virgin train up to Edinburgh – my first venture to the city in nearly 5 years – and this time I was actually staying the night (two to be exact).

IMGP3700.pngIt turns out Ava and I travel really well together, as we have very similar interests and styles. As two creative butterflies and caffeine addicts we dove into cute cafes and took photos and videos as we adventured throughout Edinburgh’s modern and Old Town districts. We found a small Christian bookstore which had some lovely books and didn’t come off ‘preachy’ as it were – and then we wandered an ancient graveyard underneath the shadow of the breathtaking Edinburgh Castle.

As Ava and I wandered the streets of Edinburgh, our single day exploration in the city seemed to encompass a week of adventure. Our journey was filled with bizarre moments, charming encounters, and even a couple confrontations with danger which led us to wonder whether the city we’d fallen in love with was out to get us. The running joke throughout the trip was ‘Ope! That was a near death experience. God dammit, another near death experience.’ Before long every little moment something happened I would remark – ‘damn glad we survived that near death experience.’ Okay well… I thought it was funny anyway.

To be fair I’m being a little bit dramatic. There was only one encounter specifically where I TRULY felt unsafe – and even considered calling the police – but I’ll get on to that later. Edinburgh was one of the loveliest cities I’ve ever visited in my life, and I already can’t wait to visit again!

If you haven’t yet, you can watch my travel vlog of my Edinburgh adventure below!

After Ava and I explored the castle graveyard we headed into this incredible charity shop mixed with cafe mixed with co-op mixed with live music place called ‘Swapshop’ by SHRUB Co-op. And then after that we wandered across the street and got tattoos – yes, Ava and I are both very spontaneous.

After that we wandered into a cute bookshop, and then stopped into this lovely French cafe. We were there for awhile but finally wandered out jubilantly saying our thank yous in French. The server called after us and we wondered what was wrong when we realised we hadn’t actually paid. We rushed back inside and I declared ‘Nous sommes tres desoles, nous sommes des Américains stupides,’ in my broken French. The servers laughed and told us we would have to clean the cafe all day to make up for it (luckily they didn’t hold us to this).

I forgot the name of the cafe, but this seems like a good time to recommend some of my favourite places while I was there, if you ever want to visit!

  • Hoot the Redeemer: A little hidden cocktail bar experience, Ava and I had a lot of fun exploring their tarot card themed drinks and revelling in the fun magical, 90s decor.
  • Swapshop: Definitely our favourite place, Swapshop can be seen in my travel vlog as the charity store mixed cafe mixed co-op mixed live music venue mixed community activism centre. I HIGHLY recommend!
  • Cairngorm Coffee: On all the lists of the top cafe’s in Edinburgh, you can easily see why. It’s a very community centred place that’s beautifully decorated and full of some pretty amazing coffee.
  • Dirty Dicks: Despite the name, Dirty Dicks is a pretty classy little pub with some of the coolest, most eclectic decor I’ve ever seen for a pub. We had some good ol’ Scottish whiskey there and it was definitely a good experience!
  • Armchair Books: Although they were a little obnoxious about me filming there, Armchair Books is really an experience. Their are books everywhere, and you feel like you’re walking through some ancient medieval library when you’re there. It’s filled with vintage books and was definitely one of the coolest bookstores I’ve been in!

Well those are a few places I recommend visiting while you’re there! And of course if you want a tattoo, we went to Okey Dokey Tattoo – which I also recommend haha.

Alright, alright, on to the near death experiences. For one thing, it seemed like every other second we were nearly getting ran over by cars. Edinburgh could use some better signage in places. A lot of its streets feel pedestrianised, and are partially pedestrianised, but the line between pedestrianised and actual street with cars is very blurred. There were numerous times we’d be walking in the middle of the road only to nearly get hit by a car simply because we didn’t realise it was an actual road – and there was no visible indicator that the pedestrianised zone had ended or begun.

Then there was the guy who I almost called the police on. We were taking pictures of the most stunningly beautiful view of the city from above as the sunset – but there was a peculiar element in play that was distracting us. As we took our pictures and videos, a man was yelling at us from a fence in the distance. He was shirtless and looked like the spitting stereotype of a Scottish highlander. A lot of what he said we couldn’t quite make out, but it was something in the lines of ‘Everyone around here knows me. This is totally normal.’ He yelled this as he climbed over the fence into the heavily vegetated foliage off the side of the street and ran off into the bushes. It was truly bizarre.

Ava and I continued merrily taking photos and videos of the sunset and ignored the bizarre moment – but after awhile he emerged from the bushes, climbed back over the fence, and hurried towards us yelling! We were startled but ignored him at first. He came up and stood across from the street from us, looking at us and speaking quite loudly. I only got pieces of what he said, like ‘You look down on me. You think I’m strange because I’m dressed like this. You think you’re better than me, you neo whatever you ares with your cameras.’ Presumably he had a negative opinion of us on the sole basis of our millennial, hipster looks.

It had previously been a bit ambiguous whether he was actually addressing us or not, but at this point we knew that he was talking about us, and insulting us from only a couple feet away – and he looked angry and very capable of pummelling us into the ground. Other folk walked by and ignored the display with the odd confused glance.

‘I’m addressing you and you’re ignoring me!’ he yelled at us. I had desperately wanted to take more photos in front of the sunset, especially since we’d only really just gotten our cameras out – but I looked at Ava and she looked at me and we both knew we had to get out of there.

‘Shall we keep walking?’ I suggested, and she nodded rapidly. We walked further down the way and luckily he didn’t follow us – but he did continue to yell at people passing by and I was more than a little scared things would have escalated.

‘Should I call the police?’ I asked Ava. After all, it was definitely harassment of some form, but she didn’t think it was worth it, and frankly neither did I. That was when she pointed out that it looked like he had several bottles filled with his own urine next to his bag. Needless to say we were eager to vacate the area.

All in all Edinburgh was a truly charming, and even magical experience, and one that I will not soon forget.

Thank you so much for reading! I’m planning a blog post soon about how I manage to travel so cheaply, and my travelling essentials and advice, so keep your eyes peeled for that!



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