Monday, March 02, 2009

I'm cheating on England with Scotland... (Day 1)

This is going to be quite a daunting task for me... Loading up pictures onto these posts with the internet speed I have takes a LONG TIME! and I took 260 pics this weekend. Of course I won't post them all because much of them are scenery pics, and only I would begin to appreciate their beauty as they act as a memory of the beauty that I saw in person.
I will also warn you that I will be adding pictures to these posts because I have 4 other camera that I need to get pictures from... Allie, Danielle, Leonore, Victoria, and I were continuously snapping pics of each other and the beautiful landscapes, but for right now I am in possession of mine alone.
Scotland is SPECTACULAR! The title of these posts really sums it up, because if England is a faithful straight-lace boyfriend, then Scotland is the rouge I have been having an affair with all weekend... and quite frankly the rogue is kind of awesome. (Sorry if that was a little too personal for you all. Ha!)
Let us begin...
Our journey began bright and early Friday morning... this trip was different than the rest of the tours I have been on in that we were not picked up from our front gate by a bus, but instead had to meet the tour guide at King's Cross Station by 8:30am. This meant that a group of us met at 6:20am in the middle of campus, walked 20 minutes to the train station, took a 45 min trip into London, and then a 15 minute tube ride to King's Cross. Now if you'll all remember, King's Cross is the station Harry Potter catches the Hogwarts Express from to go up to Hogwarts School, which is somewhere in Scotland... so needless to say I felt like I was in a Harry Potter book yet again... and so the day started off with a photo opportunity at my favorite platform
The train ride was nothing to boast about save the early morning nap I took, the girl across the aisle with an earth shaking laugh that woke me up too soon, and reading. There were also some great pics of the northeast england sea coast (picture to come). My seat mate was Allie!
We wound our way up north and 4.5 hours we reached Edinburgh, Scotland!
We met our tour guide at the station... his name is Michael and I realize that I didn't get a picture of him. But he was wearing a kilt, had long curly brown and grey hair and had a thick scottish brogue... very authentic. He took us to our Hostel, which was REALLY nice. We were late in getting to Edinburgh on the train, so we immediately left the hostel for a fast paced walking tour around Edinburgh. It was amazing... and amazingly cold, and amazing all uphill. It wasn't long before we all caught on that Mike was fiercely proud of his country and proceeded to describe everything in Edinburgh as the best in the world (you should note that these descriptions continued throughout the entire weekend, everywhere we went. I loved this however and completely believe every hyperbole he uttered). So, Edinburgh is apparently the best city in the world! It is also a hugely literary city. People like Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, JK Rowling, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle all called or still call Edinburgh home. Here is a statue of Sir Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes
More of Edinburgh

After the tour guide set us free from the walking tour at 4:30pm, we had the entire rest of the night to ourselves. We were excited to explore the city and our first stop was Edinburgh Castle.
Unfortunately it was already closed. I was so disappointed... Edinburgh Castle is to Scotland what Windsor Castle and the Tower of London is to England. So there is so much history in there... but another visit I guess. But we still took the photo opportunities in front of the castle. (Leonore, me, Danielle, and Allie)

The castle sits on top of an extinct volcanic mountain, so it is high atop most of the city. these are some views from the Castle-
The entrance to the royal mile (the street running straight from the Castle to the royal palace of Edinburgh)
Arthurs seat... the main part of the volcanic mountain

After the castle photo shoot, our group proceeded down the royal mile, which is the Edinburgh High Street of sorts. There are tons of shops all along it selling Cashmere and argyle and lambswool, and other scottish souvenirs, unfortunately I got to the end and didn't end up buying anything... but you should note Scotland is known for their Cashmere, one of the top sellers in the world. It is interesting to note that Edinburgh has another "city" underneath it. It was built upon the ruins of another city and so beneath our feet there were catacombs. We didn't get to take a tour of them because of time... another thing for the next visit someday.
I did however find a knight in shining armor along the walk.
St Gile's Cathedral
On a street just off the Royal mile is a cafe called The Elephant Head. This little Cafe is where Harry Potter was born... not literally of course, but this is where JK Rowling wrote her books before she became too famous to go out in public.

This heart is on the street and it is tradition for people to spit on it... sadly I cannot remember why anymore. But I did spit on it.
We finished with the Royal Mile and then our group split up. Everyone but Leonore and myself went to dinner, but her and I wanted to climb Calton Hill. It was said to have an amazing view of the city
So yeah... it was pretty much the coolest spot in Edinburgh!! We got there at the perfect time because it was still light enough that we could see the city, but dark enough that all the lights were lit up.

So for a long time Edinburgh was known as the Athens of the west because of its contributions to the area of knowledge and literature, etc (Scotland offers free university to any of its citizens). So the people of Edinburgh decided to build a replica of the Parthenon, but instead they ran out of money and only finished one wall... to this day it is nicknamed Edinburgh's disgrace... but it's awesome.

After spending a ton of time on top of Calton Hill, Leonore and I met up with Tyler and went to dinner at an italian bistro. Then we met up with the rest of the group to find a pub. There was a huge Rugby match on the television that evening and so we traveled to 4 different pubs before we finally found a table at Milne bar.
We then finished off the night with a pint and talked to some of the locals, including a young man (18 years old) who was so incredibly excited that we were from the US. He kept yelling out any reference to American pop-culture he could. He loved that my name was Miranda because he LOVES Sex and the City! It was hilarious and a great end to the evening! We then headed back to our rooms and were tucked into bed by midnight. Cheers!!

I'll post the rest of the trip tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

we look suuuuper cute in front of the castle!!

Jeannette's Blog said...

that's great and all but i didn't see any pictures of Sir William Wallace...may he rest in peace:(

NanAZ said...

So the tour guide must be related to your mom. The BEST EVER!!

I love that time of twilight in the evening, when the lights are on, but the sky's not quite dark yet. It a great time for pictures if you have a tri-pod or a solid place to set your camera.