This is mine and Mr. K's first Christmas in Edinburgh and we are both totally amazed how festive the city becomes. The decorations are just unbelievable and it brings a whole new meaning to "a magical time of the year." All along Princes Street, one of the main drags in Edinburgh, lights are strung up and 3D snowflakes are hanging from the wires criss crossing over the street. Businesses are completely decked out with lights, snowflakes, wreaths and huge trees. Yesterday, we went out with Tenie, Carmen and one of their friends and were able to enjoy some of the festivities Edinburgh has to offer around this time of year.
Our destination was the Edinburgh Christmas Market and it did not disappoint. The first thing we noticed when we arrived at the Christmas Market was the little Santa inspired train/car driving up and down Princes Street. We aren't exactly sure what its purpose was, but we think it's some kind of courtesy shuttle. It was so cute with it's little horn tooting.
We may have made a small mistake venturing there on the first Saturday it was opened, but we really enjoyed the whole experience. We left Glacier and Roscoe at home, to their dismay, as we were worried they may get crushed in the crowd. We also wanted to take advantage of the Ferris Wheel and if the boys had come, someone would have been left on the ground holding their leashes. So, it was a trip the two guide dogs missed.
The crowds were absolutely crazy. In some areas it was so over crowded that you would end up at a stand still when trying to reach certain booths. Despite there being so many people, the majority of the crowd was very cheery and it made being in a crowd that large tolerable and even a bit pleasant.
We found one of the German booths selling authentic food and had sausages for lunch. We ate our food hunkered down underneath a small overhang, hoping that the bit of rain attempting to escape the sky would subside by the time we had finished eating. Thankfully it did and we were able to enjoy the rest of the afternoon rain free, but it was so cold sometimes wandering back into the huge throng was in order just to warm up.
After lunch we found a vantage point to take pictures of the entire market. We climbed up on to a raised wall, later to find out we were standing on a skylight that went down into the art gallery. We weren't the only people standing up there, so we weren't concerned. From atop the art gallery Mr. K was able to take photos of the whole market below, with it's wooden stalls, hordes of people and twinkling lights. We asked a passer by to take a photo of all of us together and ended up chatting with him for a bit. Most people were feeling the Christmas spirit and were quite friendly. It was a feeling that I think some places attempt to produce, but never quite make it. This Christmas Cheer feeling was genuine and not forced or commercialized. Yes, a Market selling Christmas products could be considered commercialized, but the atmosphere was, as I said, genuine and that makes all the difference.
With our hands and toes freezing stiff due to standing still too long, we went off in search of warm drinks. We stopped at one stall selling mulled wine and hot chocolate with different types of liquors in them. Tenie, Carmen, Mr. K and our friend opted for the wine, but I was feeling extravagant so I ordered a hot chocolate with cream, cinnamon and a shot of liquor in it. The drinks were a bit on the pricy side, but if you returned the mug upon finishing your drink, you were given part of your money back; a few of us decided to keep our mugs as a keepsake.
A little warmer, we moved slowly to a few booths selling Christmas decorations. One such stall held glass ornaments that were hand painted in every variety you could imagine. We didn't do much browsing though as it was incredibly crowded and getting near the goods was nearly impossible. None of us were very disappointed though as we had come for the food and ultimately the Ferris Wheel.
While we browsed briefly, Tenie had braved the crowd to bring two of the mugs back and stopped in to purchase some candied almonds. She shared with everyone upon her arrival and we all enjoyed the warm nuts. We then wandered over to the Ferris Wheel where we were bombarded by some great Christmas tunes and still others that were slightly frightening. I'm not one to judge, but dude, they like their seventies disco music in Edinburgh; seventies disco Christmas carols anyone?
The five of us crammed into one car of the Ferris Wheel to the strains of "Santa Baby." The Wheel started moving and we were slowly hoisted into the air. Mr. K was cramped with his knees nearly to his chest and our other friend was as well. Both men are quite tall and with five of us in the same car, space was a precious commodity. Tenie is afraid of heights and she told anyone that if they made the Ferris Wheel sway she'd kill them in their sleep. Mr. K used to be afraid of heights and he is to some extent now-like if the Ferris Wheel swayed-but going blind sort of erased that fear for him. The car climbed up to the top and I was told it was a great view. You were almost on level with the castle and Christmas Edinburgh sprawled out below us. If we thought we were cold before, that was nothing compared with being way up in the sky. The wind was bitter cold and our fingers and noses were frozen stiff, but we had such a great time that we hardly noticed. The Ferris Wheel did get swayed from our friend twisting about to take pictures, or at least that is what he is claiming. I think Tenie still may have murderous intent since his claims of moving for photo taking were a bit weak.
Back on the ground, we headed again for more food. There was a booth selling "Dinky Doughnuts" and we stopped in to grab a bag or two of the tiny, sweet deliciousness. Again, they were warm and very tasty. I feel like all we did was eat, but it is a Christmas market with strong German influence, so I really shouldn't be surprised. Carmen's family is German and whenever we went to visit, all we did was eat.
After our Dinky Doughnuts were consumed, it was time to return home. Gus and Fiona had been riding around all day in Mr. K's sweater, warmed by his body heat and layers, and they would be waking up soon. It's one thing to carry a bonded, sleeping Sugar Glider around with you, but it's quite another to carry an awake, unbonded Sugar Glider. So, We headed for the taxi cue since we were all freezing and ready to get home. We spent the rest of the evening watching movies, eating pizza and getting warmed up by mine and Mr. K's gas fireplace.
The experience of the Edinburgh Christmas Market was one that I think everyone should have. Sure, it was a bit over crowded, but most people were in great moods and the press of the bodies kept you warm. Of course things are a bit over priced, but a lot of the vendors travel from Germany to Edinburgh to take part in the Market and so I can kind of understand the prices. Climbing into the sky crammed into a Ferris Wheel with four other fantastic people was an experience in itself-I don't think I stopped laughing until our feet hit solid ground. Carmen and I have made a date to go back on Thursday to browse some of the merchandise and since the market has free entry, I kind of feel like "why not go more than once?" There were so many different food vendors that you could eat there every day of the week and you would never try everything available. It was the perfect start to our first Christmas season in Edinburgh.