30 Dec 2012 - 02 Jan 2013
Having been to Hogmanay before, I knew what to expect but had such a fantastic time the second time around too.
My travel buddy and I were in the spirit of the festival and meeting people and enjoying the atmosphere, trying to collect random bits and pieces for her costume for Loony Dook the next day.
The hostel was one of the best I have been in. Granted it was a hike to the city and it was all uphill, it made getting home at the end of the night easier.
We had a fantastic tour manager Evana and Andy our driver was great too. So much knowledge and experience.
The visit to Stirling Castle was great - the walking tour made the history come alive, Edinburgh itself is an architectural wonderland, where old meets new and there are hidden stories around every corner, such as Mary King's Close. A must see for all history fanatics.
The Scottish Evening was pretty good. I think some people didn't realise what they were ordering and were a bit taken back when they got their chicken and it had haggis in it but the entertainment was funny and the location was lovely.
Whilst not personally participating in Loony Dook, I did go to watch and take pictures. It was hard to see things but I guess the town isn't really built to accommodate that many people trying to swim in the freezing water with thousands of spectators on one tiny beach trying to watch the crazy one's swim. It was a fun atmosphere and I am glad I went.
All in all, this was a nice finish to our European holiday and you haven't really done New Years until you have been to a street party with 100,000 other people trying to get the best location to watch fireworks, sing auld lang syne and try to get an alcoholic beverage from a street vendor.
Should be on the to do list for any traveller :)
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
30 Dec 2012 - 02 Jan 2013
First of all let me say that my tour manager, Evana, was great--very helpful and knowledgeable and friendly to our group, so anything I say in this review is not related to her great performance as a tour manager. However, I was a bit disappointed with the actual tour itself; I realize this is only the second year that Contiki has done Hogmanay in Edinburgh so perhaps it was still getting its ground, but I felt like the city of Edinburgh was not much of a sight to see, although some people may have disagreed. Our hostel was very nice, comfortable, and hospitable, and we were told that it was of the closest to the inner city--which if it is, it is quite a hike! It was a long walk to get into the city and even then it was mainly just comprised of gift shops and a couple local pubs. The street festival itself on New Year's Eve was pretty chaotic (yes I know, what do you expect), and it was very difficult to get around and see what was actually there. Unfortunately I personally was ill on new year's day so I didn't participate in watching the Looney Dook, although from what everyone said who went, you couldn't really see anything (but like I said I didn't go so this is just what I was told). One thing I will say is that the optional (Scottish Evening) was not worth 35 euros. It was extremely long/dragged-out, the wait staff was not very attentive or polite, the food was not very good--the bag piping was cool and the guy doing the presentation was very enjoyable, however they waited until AFTER dinner was served before starting the presentation, and it ended up going a very long time--a lot of us were really tired and frustrated by the time we were supposed to leave. Since I wasn't spending extra days in Scotland after the tour, I was advised not to go on the optional to Stirling Castle in order to be able to see more of Edinburgh itself, but I really regret not going on that tour because like I said earlier, Edinburgh was not a very impressive city as far as tourism goes. I feel like I didn't get the experience of Scotland that I was hoping for and do need to go back and try again.
Review written Jan 2013event 0.3