#LaPresse: “The dark side of Edinburgh | Jean-Christophe Laurence “


No wonder the capital of Scotland has become a specialty of the macabre guided tours, not only during Halloween, but at length year.

The Trip Advisor travel site lists at least a fortnight, from the walking tour to the bus tour. This outbidding also gives rise to real competition, each proposing nothing less than the ultimate thrill.

"For 10 years, this is the explosion," says the Murder & Mystery Tour guide, at the end of our visit. "But it was us who were the first, since 1985," he adds … admitting however that this title is disputed by a rival company.

Like many of these macabre tours, the Murder & Mystery Tour offers a more than an hour walk to about 10 pounds ($ 16 CDN) per person, where humor, scare stories and proven facts combine to measure the bloody history of this city founded in XI e century.

Here, near the famous Edinburgh Castle, public executions took place. The corpses were thrown overboard to the "lakes" that surrounded the old city.

Further down we cross the Grassmarket, an old peasant market where witches and assassins were burned at the time, like the infamous Burke and Hare, who have today given their name to a dance club. Then it is the famous Cowgate Street, located below the old city, where so many people were slaughtered and stripped. The visit, ultra-theatrical, is given by a vampire and his henchman disguised as a skeleton. A little cabotin, but nevertheless informative


The visit of Real Mary King's Close is more serious. And also takes himself more seriously. Although there are also ghosts, the organization categorically refuses to be associated with other macabre visits. "It's a journey with historical content," insists the lady of communications.

With its exclusive access to the underground passages of the Old City, covered since 1750, Real Mary King's Close reveals a little-known part of Edinburgh's history. Men, women and children once lived in these rooms and closed (alleys) looking like tombs, where the plague wreaked havoc. Too bad our guide is at this point on the autopilot. The visit, delivered mechanically, leaves little room for interaction. Its French version may be more convincing.

In this genre, the Underground City of the Dead Tour, which takes you to the vaults beneath the bridges leading to the Old City, is preferred by far.

Hundreds of poor people huddled in the eighteenth e century, lack of housing available. Without water. Without light. Without ventilation. We do not tell you the conditions of hygiene. The guide, fiercely funny, also tells us that these places, never officially mapped, were completely forgotten, until two drunk tourists in Canada discovered by chance in the late 90s.

A good mix of intelligence and humor, which earned this visit to be recommended by the Lonely Planet . But it will be disadvised to young children, who will not understand much about it


For a family activity, choose the more commercial version of these dark rides, with the Edinburgh Dungeon. An entertaining visit, but not given (nearly 18 pounds per person, CAN $ 30), which some might call a tourist trap.

Free, the Greyfriars Kirkyard Cemetery, located in the heart of the city, offers a much more realistic and equally interesting experience for children. One never tires of admiring these ancient tombs, adorned with skulls. A real movie set! Guided tours are also available in the evening. Perhaps you will find the ghost of the dog Greyfriars Bobby, or those of those dead whose bodies were stolen to be sold to the Edinburgh School of Medicine, which was lacking in the time of the body to dissect!

Remains the Edinburgh horror festival, presented for the second time this year, in the days leading up to Halloween. An aggregate of films, plays, activities and story-telling evenings that all have in common to want to give shivers. Unless you prefer the Sunday morning flea market at the Omni Center, just steps from the tourist center. The activity is held in the fourth basement of an underground parking. With pale neon lights and dark corners uninviting. More anxiety than all organized macabre tours! Like what real life is sometimes worse than legends.

“Previously Published on: 24 October 2017 | 12:00 pm, as ‘

The dark side of Edinburgh | Jean-Christophe Laurence ' on LaPresse. (Here is a source link for the Article's Image(s) and Content)"

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