Over the summer, City of Edinburgh council ticked me off x2. Firstly, they made a weird permit zone in the area where I parked my car so it would be in walking distance (or a very short bus ride) from my work. Making things like heading to a friend’s house, going to the supermarket or taking in various supplies pretty easy. Now you can’t park there between 10 a.m.-11.30 a.m. Secondly, the tramworks returned. Starting almost from scratch since the snow apocalyse apparently ruined the tram lines (anyone else thinking…’what happens when it snows again?!’) meaning that from Haymarket to the East End everything is diverted and traffic is clogged up, doubling the commute time. Oh joy.
There is one thing saving my sanity. The Airlink bus.
I live 5-10 minutes car journey from Edinburgh Airport, and the bus stop at the bottom of the brae where I live just happens to be one of the few stops the Airlink bus makes between the airport and Waverley Station (a 10 minute walk from my work). I like the airport bus for a few reasons.
1. It’s much cleaner than the other buses
2. They have leather seats rather than the carpet like seats (again, easier to clean)
3. The other passengers tend not to sneeze on you or play awful music at top volume
4. They sometimes can give you change if you don’t have the exact bus fare (yippee!)
5. It’s fun to overtake all the other buses en route that have to stop at every.single.stop. Mwa ha ha ha!
6. You rarely have to stand and wait for the bus on the way home, as the bus is already sitting outside waiting for passengers (this is something to be especially appreciated at night).
However, I’m beginning to realise I help more people on my way to work than I do when I’m at work. People at the centre are now used to hearing my tales of the airport bus. The people I overhear – like the 2 spiffy business chaps sitting behind me yesterday, one of whom was a Daniel Stewarts pupil and told his colleague that it takes 2 hours to get to St Andrew’s. (Yes. It might do. If you’re driving a tractor.) Or perhaps the American who asked me where I was from, and when I replied ‘I’m from Edinburgh‘ asked ‘Where’s that?‘ (true story). The German girls who were about to miss their train to Dundee one night.
Often I end up helping people by telling them where to get off the bus to get to where they are staying, or walk them to a place where it will be easier for them to find their way. I answer their questions about which tour bus is best, things they should see, places that are good to eat, pubs they should visit and often encourage them to walk through the Close where the Writers’ Museum resides so they can see the pavement slabs engraved with the words of famous Scottish writers and poets as the best way to get up to the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. I advise them not to bother with umbrellas in the rain (too windy) and making sure they have good comfortable shoes as they walk up and down the hilly streets of the Old Town.
Some Edinburgers get irritated by the tourists in Edinburgh, but I rarely do. I enjoy showing them my city and telling them tales about it. I love to take people to some of the places you probably won’t here about in a Lonely Planet Guide or an article in an Airline magazine.
Perhaps it’s the geographer in me, or maybe it’s the Scottish pride instilled in me…I don’t know.
But as I talk the Australian guy sitting next to me through the sights that are passing us by outside the bus window, and explain to the elderly couple from London that if they ask the bus driver nicely they can probably stay on the bus on the way back since they just missed their stop because the new computer screen calls it “West End” not “Shandwick Place”, I wonder if I missed my calling.
Haste ye back airlink passengers!
(And taste the Edinburgh chippie sauce before you leave while avoiding the deep fried mars bars)