By far one of the most interesting and admirable projects I’ve come across lately has to be Invisible Edinburgh. This social enterprise (read: What is a Social Enterprise and How Can I Get Involved?) offers training to individuals coming from homelessness so they can become walking tour guides. Taking the Invisible Edinburgh Powerful Women tour was a truly enlightening experience for this new expat in Edinburgh.
Learning about the history of Edinburgh is fascinating in its own right. The dark side of the city is infamous, while countless incredible locals have contributed to literary, medical, artistic, cultural, scientific, and political movements that have changed the world.
Many tourists coming to Edinburgh will do the standard sites and strolls through the city. Indeed, the first stop for many newcomers to the city is the Royal Mile immediately after arrival. Its dynamic history and plethora of interesting shops and eateries make it the ideal all-in-one tourist site.
But – from personal experience – I can 100% guarantee that you will not grasp the entirety of the Royal Mile walking on your own. You will miss countless interesting details, you will glaze over fascinating stories, and you will walk away none the wiser. Even if you’ve walked it multiple times and made an effort to learn more, you will have missed so many hidden tales.
I cannot recommend this strongly enough: If you are visiting Edinburgh, you cannot miss an Invisible Edinburgh tour.
Why Choose Invisible Edinburgh?
There are so many tours in the city – several of which I’ll be sharing with you here over the coming weeks – but Invisible Edinburgh stands a world apart in its personal local touch. Other tours might offer more detailed historical information; some regale you with dramatized and entertaining storytelling. Those qualities offer their own unique appeal.
But, with Invisible Edinburgh, you will see more of Edinburgh than many locals even know about. You’ll see a side that highlights the best of this city and the reasons why Scots are such a proud people. It’s not just their history and culture, it’s their social strength and their support for each other that makes this country so wonderful. Taking the Invisible Edinburgh Powerful Women tour showed me a totally different aspect of this city that I now call home.
The Invisible Edinburgh Powerful Women Tour
I recently joined a tour with Biffy, whose focus is powerful women in Edinburgh. While the crux of her tour centered on several notable women in the city’s history, it was her own story that truly brought the powerful women theme together in its entirety.
Biffy has been with Invisible Edinburgh since its inception – that is, for only a few months. In that time, she has received instruction and training to learn an incredible breadth of information to share with her tour group.
Beginning her tour in the Grassmarket, Biffy takes her guests on a personal walk through history spanning centuries. From the morbid to the fantastical, Biffy weaves her tour along the winding streets of Edinburgh while sharing tales of ladies who have impacted the city. She also shares the spaces in the city that have impacted her own life. Inevitably, her tour enlightens even the most historically savvy local and truly opens the typical tourist’s eyes.
You may think you know Edinburgh, but Biffy will still show you something new.
I won’t spoil the tour for you by revealing every interesting fact I learned and site we saw. You’ll just have to learn for yourself when you join Biffy on your next visit to Edinburgh!
Another aspect of my tour that I really enjoyed was the wonderful diversity of participants. On my particular tour, several languages danced between people who had come from all walks of life around the world. South Africa, Norway, Mexico, USA, Scotland, and France were all represented in this eclectic yet intimate group. We wandered through the city streets together, sharing our own stories and learning from each other between points of interest.
Talking with Biffy, you’ll be charmed by her contagious giggle and immediate friendly affection. You simply cannot walk away from her tour without a new friend.
How to Book an Invisible Edinburgh Tour
Invisible Edinburgh tours can be booked online through their website: www.invisible-cities.org. The cost of about an hour-long tour is under £8.00, part of which goes to the tour guide and part to the continued promotion of the program. The current plans are to begin training more guides in September, which means an even larger variety of tour options.
Current tour topics include the Invisible Edinburgh Powerful Women tour with Biffy, the Crimes and Punishment tour with Sonny, and the Community Sports tour with Stewart. Tours require a minimum of three people and tour times can be somewhat flexible if you have a larger group. Contact Zakia directly for any booking inquiries or for private group tours.
Learn More About Invisible Edinburgh
Hear from founder Zakia Moulaoui about the beginning of Invisible Edinburgh and the training process for the tour guides:
Watch the news story from STV Live at 5 highlighting Biffy’s story and the Invisible Edinburgh Powerful Women tour:
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