If you have ever wondered when the Regimental Ratatouille is or what time the One O’Clock Gun goes off then rest assured you’re not alone.
These were today revealed as just some of the questions asked at Tourist Information Centres (TICs) in Edinburgh by confused, misguided or just plain daft tourists.
Some of the questions come up so often that Visit Scotland has compiled a list to ADVERTISEMENThelp staff guide tourists in the right direction in the least humiliating way possible.
The list is kept under the counter at the Waverley TIC, and includes some other gems like ‘What do they do with the Castle when the Festival is over?’; ‘Can I take an open top bus to Inverness?’ and ‘Is the moon in New Zealand the same moon I see in Scotland?’.
James Lakie, external relations executive at Visit Scotland, said that while the list was certainly amusing it also served a purpose for staff.
“We do have a bit of a laugh over the list but when you think of some of things you would ask when you land in a strange city like Barcelona or Madrid for the first time you kind of have a bit of sympathy for the people who asked these questions.
“Some of it is just down to a plain misunderstanding of geography. Some tourists think Scotland is an hour’s walk from end to end, so in that context questions like, ‘Is that Edinburgh or Stirling Castle up there?’, or ‘Can I book a day trip to Orkney or Shetland?’ don’t seem that silly.
“Come to think of it, you probably could book a day trip to Shetland if you timed the flights right, but you wouldn’t have time to see very much.”
Parts of the list do stand up to such scrutiny, and a question like ‘Can I use Scottish notes in England?’ doesn’t seem so strange to anyone who has had money turned away by English shopkeepers.
However, some parts of the list do stretch the bounds of logic, such as “Isn’t it convenient that they built the Castle so close to the train station!” or “Is there an animal called a haggis and where can I find one?”.
Mr Lakie added: “These ones do seem unforgivable and it is tempting to laugh, but we don’t want to cause offence so instead we’ll use a question like ‘Why didn’t they build the Castle closer to the airport?’ to explain to people just how old Scotland is and its history.
“Some people do actually believe the haggis is an elusive Loch Ness monster -type creature, and we’re often reluctant to correct them so that they’ll actually go out and try it. When we were out in New York for Tartan Week we did blind tastings and the Americans loved it . . . until we told them what was in it.”
TOP TEN REMARKS
1.What time is the One O’Clock Gun?
2. Is the moon I see in New Zealand the same moon I see in Scotland?
3. When is the Regimental Ratatoullie? (referring to the Military Tattoo)
4. Isn’t it convenient how they built the Castle so close to the train station!
5. An American gentleman asked: “Isn’t there, like, a massive oil refinery at the top of England?”
6. I’d like to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia. What time does the cruise begin?
7. Can I use the stamps I bought in Lancaster to send postcards from Scotland?
8. How often does the Castle go on the market?
9. An older American couple once asked staff to bless them.
10. Which bus will take me to the top of Arthur’s Seat and where is the chair itself?