The Black Bull Tavern may be my favourite bar in the entire world. Or at least the parts of the world I’ve been fortunate enough to visit so far. And the rest of the world’s going to have to go some to beat it.
I mean, it’s got a coffin, and everything!
It’s located in Edinburgh, a city that … um. Yeah.
So, I didn’t like Edinburgh very much. Admittedly I was there in November and it was cold and rainy and dreary, but so is Halifax at that time of year, so it’s not like I’m not used to life in the grey. Besides, I get the feeling that the people would have been rude no matter if it was all bright and sunshiny, and the pedestrians just as psycho.
Seriously, what is it with Edinburgh’s pedestrians? They’re insanely aggressive. I walked everywhere, and by the time I left the city, I was covered in bruises from being shoulder checked and hip checked and stepped on. I watched one woman maintain eye contact with Ron as he walked towards her, only to take a long step at the last second to deliberately get in his way. More than once, someone veered diagonally across the sidewalk to plow into me. And don’t get me started on what it’s like in a pedestrian crossing.
The Black Bull Tavern is a rock bar, so it warms the cockles of my metalhead heart right there. And beyond the coffin, there’s other great decor – skeletons and record albums and photos, along with old black-and-white horror films playing on a TV screen at the end of the bar.
Plus there’s a pool table and a jukebox, and over 50 bourbons and whiskeys, if you’re into that sort of thing. And a bunch of different beers if you’re not.
But more than things, its real strength is its people. The staff are amazing – just the friendliest and most helpful bunch you could ever hope to meet. We were there every night of our stay, and every night we got treated supremely well. We got recommendations on everything from where to hear some good live music, to where to buy hair dye, and the next night, we always got asked how our searches had gone. They asked why we were visiting, and when we told them we were seeing Tim Minchin in concert, they remembered when it was asked how we’d enjoyed it when we stopped in the night after the show. And after Ron drank nothing but the Punk IPA every night, they gifted us with a bunch of their swag – glasses, lanyards, a bottle opener.
It wasn’t just the staff who were lovely. The other patrons were, as well. There were lots of stereotypical metalhead/biker types there, dressed all in black with tattoos and mohawks, that would make lots of people turn around and leave the moment they stepped through the door. But, as is often the case, they were some of the kindest people. The bar entrance is located at the bottom of a set of uneven stone steps, and after the show, as I made my way carefully down them in high heels, one of the burly biker dudes standing outside having a smoke trotted over to the base of the steps and gave me his hand to steady me on my way down.
And then he did the same thing for Ron, who was a few steps behind me, and at least as burly and bikery as the guy ‘helping’ him.
Like I said, I didn’t much like Edinburgh. But I’d go back in a heartbeat, just to visit The Black Bull Tavern again.
To read more posts in the Pub Crawl series, click here.