Spend even the shortest amount of time in the delightful and disturbing Scottish capital and you begin to read native Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” as a metaphor for the city itself. Edinburgh boasts a warm and welcoming population residing in an atmosphere where an ever-present hint of menace hangs palpably in the air like its famous rainy mist. (This openness is evidenced by the fact that one early afternoon my sister and I were able to pretty much wander in to a Justice Committee hearing of Parliament debating that day’s front page news – whether singing “God Save The Queen” at soccer matches should be made illegal.) Yes, this is the home of Harry Potter – and the café where J.K. Rowling birthed him proudly touts its pedigree – but it’s also a city in which for centuries public executions were pretty much a local pasttime. Not to mention, its skyline of threatening, medieval fortress architecture heavy with spires and turrets practically screams, “Don’t fuck with us.” It’s actually the opposite of Amsterdam, where I flew in from to cover this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival. That city’s cozy atmosphere – the Dutch have a word for it, “gezellig,” which has no English equivalent – reflected in its quaint canal houses and hole-in-the-wall coffeeshops, stands in stark contrast to its conservative insular population. (Don’t get me wrong, the Dutch are very agreeable – just don’t mistake “tolerant” for “welcoming.”)
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