Vendor City Guide: Inverness

Interview by Steven MacKenzie, The Big Issue (UK)

Daniel MacKenzie, 38, was born and raised in Inverness and has been selling The Big Issue for around six years. His pitch is at the railway station so he is always on hand to give directions to visitors and answer their questions.

Why I like living in Inverness

Inverness is a nice place with plenty to do to keep you busy. I’ve lived here all my life, and have memories, so every part of the city is famous to me. I enjoy going out in the evenings and meeting friends and there are plenty of places to go. The best time to visit is when there is a lot happening, which I would say is the summer.

What tourists ask me

I’m always happy to help out tourists if they’re lost or if they need advice. When they’re looking at street signs I offer them help. Some people will say can you tell me where this is or that is – most often they want to know how to get to the Castle, Inverness Cathedral, Eden Court Theatre, the bus station or the river. I tell them what happens inside the Castle – it’s also where our court is. It isn’t deemed appropriate to take pictures because people are there to find out if they’re getting community service, a fine or a jail term. It’s the only castle in Scotland that has a court inside.

The best places to eat and drink

There’s Wetherspoon’s where people can go for a coffee for £1.25 then get as many refills as you want. Then there’s Coffee Affair, the Red Pepper, the café in Debenham’s. The Castle Restaurant is just down from the castle. They do practically everything you can think of. Last time I was there it was steak pie that I had, and that was filling.

Where to hear good music

There are outdoors festivals like the Tartan Heart Festival in August, which is just on the outskirts of Inverness with people like Jess Glynne, Chvrches and Lewis Capaldi playing this year. But there’s music on every night at pubs like MacCallums and Gunsmiths, on Union Street right across from where I sell at the train station. Hootenanny is a Scottish pub that has live music and ceilidhs too.

The local teams

I’m a Celtic supporter but I do like to see how the local football teams are getting on as well, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County. Celtic haven’t been up here for ages because Inverness and Ross County are both down in the Championship.

How to get out of town

To get to Culloden Battlefield, take the bus that is heading for Croy. It’s cheaper to get a day rider ticket than paying for single journeys. And to get to Loch Ness, head for Drumnadrochit, where the visitor centre and Urquhart Castle are. If you’re in a car, it’s easier, otherwise you have to get a taxi or bus out there. One question I haven’t been asked by tourists before is whether there have been any recent sightings of Nessie. But they still go to look for it.

Originally published in The Big Issue (UK)

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