Monday, October 01, 2007

Edinburgh, Scotland (Thursday, September 27)

I have returned from Scotland! It was a whirlwind three-day tour of Edinburgh (Scotland's Capital), Inverness (up in next to the North Sea), and Glasgow (in the south-west-ish area). I traveled with another student here at Harlaxton (Bridgette) and we left last Thursday, September 27 at 6:30 a.m. We traveled by Train the entire way and stayed in Hostels in each city (my first experience with those!). All in all, it was an incredible trip and I've taken a LOT of pictures. I worked today mostly on Edinburgh pictures and have them uploaded to my Picasa albums (complete with captions) but for now, here's my blog entry on Edinburgh!

This is me in Edinburgh. The city, like most "ancient" cities, was built on a hill for protection. Today most of the main tourist sites are on the top of the hill along the "Royal Mile," and the more modern shopping district is down at the bottom of the hill.

The first stop we made in Edinburgh (because it was cheapest if we went before noon - not because we are alcoholics) was the "Scotch Whiskey Heritage Tour." We were taught all about Scotch Whiskey, it's history, how it is made, and (most importantly) how to taste it! The tour included free samples and a nice little discount at their store. Our tour guide was a lot of fun!

This is a shot of the Royal Mile, a stretch of paved pedestrian area from Edinburgh Castle all the way to the Palace. It's usually a lot more crowded, but this was early on a week day.

And here is the "Heart of Midlothlian." It has a few different meanings. It used to be a geographic marker for the actual center of a region called 'Midlothlian,' it is a general marker for an area of the city that used to be used for executions, and is also the mascot for the Edinburgh football (soccer) team.

Edinburgh was a great city to visit. We only had one day there, so we stuck to the tourist-y areas. On our way there in the morning (yes, at 6:30 a.m!) we ran into another Harlaxton student and agreed to meet up for dinner later. It was actually her birthday, and she had been traveling alone, so I think it was great that we got to connect with her to celebrate over dinner!

This was also my first experience in a Hostel. Hostels are, essentially, very cheap hotels where you book a certain number of beds in a dorm-style room instead of your own private room. You can share rooms with anywhere from 4 to probably 30 other people, and you can have single-sex or mixed-gender dorm rooms (we alway opted for Female-Only dorms because I'm not very adventurous), and you typically share a bathroom with all the other people on that floor. I obviously had some concerns about things like security and privacy and cleanliness, but the experience wasn't really all that bad. We did a lot of research about the ratings of the various hostels and eventually opted to pay for Hostels that were a little higher than the cheapest you could get - which was a great idea! Typically, the people who are in town just to party and make a lot of noise will go for the cheapest possible Hostel they can get. By paying just a little more, we were able to avoid that hassle - and stayed with people who also enjoyed sleep! The first night we met fellow travelers from Australia, China, and Hawaii. I have learned that, as Americans, we don't appreciate Alaska enough. Everyone in that room had been to Alaska, and was shocked to learn I hadn't.

We enjoyed our one discounted drink at the bar attached to the Hostel (there is ALWAYS a bar near or attached to the hostels) with our new Australian friend, Bridgette sang a little Karaoke, and we hit the hay in preparation for our 6:30 train departure the next morning...

See the rest of my pictures at:

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KJ said...

Your pictures and the commentary are WONDERFUL!! I can't wait to see the rest of your Scotland pics. I do have to say that I think Buffy may be related to Grefriars Bobby - they sort of look alike - lol! I sure hope you had a cup of tea at the Elephant house . . . and looked over your shoulder for Rowling!

~Kelly Jo

Matthew said...

Well, all of those people (China, Australia and Hawaii) border the Pacific Ocean, while Wisconsin, alas, does not.

I would love to go to Alaska someday, but not Into The Wild.