Bjorn Johnsen has only been in Edinburgh for a month but he is already sounding like a native.
Discussing the annual arts festival, Hearts’ American striker is moaning about the difficulties associated with several million visitors descending on the capital throughout the month; the craziness of it all, the late night revelry and the extra demand it places on the housing rental market. But like most locals, he is torn between the irritations and the buzz it generates.
“I have seen some comedies and we see the people on the street all the time but other than that, I don’t have the time,” he said. “Or it’s been raining! Where I am living is really close to it all so normally I hear the people through the night so that’s my Fringe. It’s not the perfect introduction but you’ve got to get used to it, it’s something new. Obviously this is a big thing. I read that the Fringe festival is the second or third biggest event, for tickets being sold. I think it’s only the World Cup and Olympics that are above it, so that’s crazy! It’s crazy how many tickets you can sell.”
Keeping him awake at night, it has caused him a few headaches during the day as well, as he and his girlfriend seek out the perfect home for the duration of his three-year deal with the Tynecastle club.
“It is crazy right now. We have somewhere but it’s not the ideal place I want to be. I have found another place that I can hopefully move into next week. But it has been so hard because the festival has been stopping me from finding a place because everywhere is already rented out throughout the month. It has been hectic.”
Curtailed by delays gaining international clearance, the North Carolina-born 24-year-old has had to bide his time but made his debut appearance last weekend, against Inverness Caledonian Thistle. He made a favourable impression, setting up Sam Nicholson for the first of his goals in a 5-1 victory, and then endeared himself to the fanbase even further by netting in an Under-20s encounter with derby rivals Hibs.
It has all helped to make him feel at home, in a city where every nationality and every culture mixes and mingles with the locals.
“Yeah, it has been a month now so everything is cool. Edinburgh does feel like home now, when it stops raining! There are so many restaurants and so many cultures. We were up at the castle and that makes it more inviting for family to come over and have them see where you are playing because, before it wasn’t like that.
“My girlfriend is Spanish and we actually haven’t sat down and not heard someone else speaking Spanish. Where are the Scottish people? It is a melting pot, which is lovely because America is a melting pot as well. It is definitely, definitely better when you have a place where people are from different cultures and different places and you are not the only new person here. I am one of about a million here right now! I’m not so special at the moment.
“I haven’t been recognised by any Hearts supporters yet. Everybody probably just thinks that I am some other guy performing at the festival. Nobody knows who I am yet and I like it that way.”
But that could all change if he gets his way and makes the impact he hopes for the Gorgie side, with Partick Thistle the opposition today. Recognising the strength and depth in the dressing room, he is relishing the competition for places but believes he can make his mark. “I want to get Hearts into the Europa League again. For now, I think it is better to focus on the League and the Scottish Cup and being knocked out of Europe could help us in the long run.
“But, getting back to the Europa League is a realistic target with the team we have. This team is good. All the players that I have seen in the lead up to signing contracts and waiting for the registration and clearance proved that I have made the right decision.”