Monday, February 4, 2013

If it rains cats and dogs, will I step in a poodle?

For the half dozen of you still reading this blog, I have quite a treat for you. This weekend, I went to the magical and elusive land also known as Scotland. Edinburgh specifically.

If you would like to be immersed in a literary pool of excellence and wit, please hit the jump for the rest of the story.

First off, my apologies. There are many many many many many many pictures in this post. *cringes* through an unfortunate series of events that I will explain in a little bit, my camera was taken from me by a gaggle of women, who turned my minimalistic photo taking into something much more vast.

With this post then, I will try to organize it as best I can. I will keep it all in chronological order, but with headings in case you fall asleep mid way through, and need to find your place again.

The History

We departed Harlaxton Manor at around 8:03 am on Friday morning. On the ride up, my three companions and I planned out our trip through the mystical city of Edinburgh. Around 4 hours into our grueling coach trip, we arrived at the border with Scotland. In the picture below, you will find that border, along with my faithful *cough* companions.

Another 2 hours into our journey, we arrived at our hostel. The location was prime. Out of our window, we had a wonderful view of a train station. Lovely. The reason the view was so good, is because we were on the highest floor. I'd tell you which floor that was, but frankly, I cant count that high. This was only the beginning of what would be a horrible weekend for my calves and ankles. If I listened close while climbing the mountains and stairs, I could almost hear them squeak "what have we ever done to deserve this?". Apparently when the original city planners were looking for a spot to put Edinburgh, they said 'hey, you see that flat plain area over there? Well, lets put the city on the side of that sheer cliff instead.' But I digress. After exploring the tower that was our hostel, we ventured out into the big bright (not so bright) world of Scotland. We walked up the 184 stairs behind our hostel to the next street over. (not making that number up. 1 city block was nearly straight up.) After a 30 minute nap, we were amazed by the natural beauty and splendor of the architecture

This is the Scotts monument. Which has something to do with a man who wrote some things. I gleaned that from the way he is holding a book. He may be a master reader, but rarely do you see great readers with their own several hundred foot high monument.

 This is looking across what used to be a lake, and is now waverley train station.

Here is an artsy picture of some flags waving on top of some building. The library I think.

 Nope, it was the National Gallery. Here is another view, in case you wanted one with a person in it.

Because we had arrived at around 3:00 pm, the sun was starting to go down, and we needed to hurry to see all 4 sights the town had to offer.

The castle dominates the landscape. It would be a lot easier to see if there weren't so many trees planted all around it.

This is one of the last pictures I took on the trip. After commenting on the differences between the new road sign and the old buildings, my camera was taken from me, so that it would be used for constructive purposes rather than random speculation. I managed to get it back occasionally. Those pictures are easy to identify because they are all blurry.

 After getting immediately lost, we started walking uphill until we found the castle, which was quite a sight.

That wasnt the castle.
This is the castle.
Notice the parking fences all around. lets just say I wasnt the one to take that picture.

We were quite high up, so we could see much of the town.

As it turns out, the sun is in the process of setting from around 2pm all the way to 5pm. Even at noon it casts a long shadow.

I was continually surprised by the presence of mountains. They just didnt seem to belong there.

In case you wanted a good view ruined by somebody standing in it.

We did spend a lot of time just standing around up there doing nothing.

On the way down the hill, I noticed an interesting building. We vowed to come back and experience it later. Little did we know, that those vows would go unfulfilled.

Skip forward a bit unless you are at all interested in random buildings. I'd comment on them if I knew anything about them.

We soon made our way down the Royal Mile, and found ourselves standing outside St Giles Cathedral. Instead of going inside like sane people, we stood outside for 15 minutes until it was about to close.

We then ran inside, and spun around in circles taking as many pictures as possible. Well, I didnt, because I didnt have my camera.

When we left, it was dark. Starvation and near blindness led us inside the nearest restaurant. And what do you order when you go to Scotland? The same as everyone else of course, Haggis with whiskey gravy.

After the very good meal, we went to Mary Kings Close, which is an underground street. As it turns out, todays Edinburgh is built (quite literally) on top of the old city. Which means, if you go underground, the old city is still there! Mary Kings Close is a street (close meaning street) which you can tour for a nominal fee. But because its underneath a government building, you are not allowed to take photographs. So we didnt. But feel free to google it for some really interesting information.

After that, we wandered around town, trying to find a pub to settle down in. Surprisingly, We wandered quite a long ways before we found anything. Below are a series of pictures taken in the pub that make us look like raging alcoholics.

Wasnt that fun?

In the morning, we decided to hike up Arthurs Seat, which is a mountain. For a mountain however, it was very hard to find. Luckily, I had taken back control of my camera, and was free to snap pictures willy nilly.

For a brief moment, the sun started shining! In my surprise, I was blinded and accidentally took a picture of an archway in an effort to shield my face.

Jennifer (pictured below) thought that the mountain might be in this creepy old cemetery  I expressed my concern for her mental well being, but the group followed anyway.

Back on the Royal Mile, we walked past the Parliament Buildings, which are the most confusing looking buildings ever.

After a moment of contemplation, we were prepared to climb the mountain.

Well that didnt look so bad! we could totally climb that! what we didnt realize however, is that the mountain is actually behind that mountain. But we didnt figure that out till later.

 I may have gone a little overboard with the pictures of Arthurs seat, but it was so cool I couldnt help myself.

View of the North Sea

Again, me being left behind to die.

My companions.

There is the actual mountain we would be climbing.

Dont tell me what to do signs.

Soon I began to notice the extensive wildlife of Ravens and Dogs. I made it my mission to photograph them all.

Ravens dont like their pictures being taken.

These pictures get much better if you click on them for full res versions.

Jackie (pictured) finally made it to the top a good 20 minutes after the leader. (me)

The very last summit was very rocky, and hard to climb. Not for me obviously, but for some.

 Finally at the summit.

The Lonely Mountain in the distance.

After a good hour chasing wildlife, We decided to tumble our way down the mountain.

The angle of the sun made distance very hard to judge. Whenever I thought we were close to the bottom, it turned out to be much farther.

Looking back once we got back down on the road. That again is the slightly smaller mountain.

Once we got back into town, I was drug by my companions (pictured) jackie/jennifer/taylor to go to the elephant house which apparently is the birthplace of harry potter. I just assumed most people were born in hospitals, but I guess its different for fictional characters.

After a dinner of elephant, we meandered our way down to parliament  because I wanted to look at the Large Hadron Collider exhibit there.

Yay for Science.


Particle Physics for idiots.

Some companions are less excited by science than others.

Did you know Scotlands national animal is the Unicorn? Silly.

That afternoon, we decided to go find another pub to eat and get drunk at. But alas, this was the afternoon of the England v. Scotland Rugby match, so finding a pub was difficult.

Eventually though, we succeeded. Hence another string of pictures that made it look a lot more dramatic than it actually was.

Drunk scientific discovery #8789. All thumbs are the same length, despite hand size.

Pub rowdiness.

After that exciting evening, we started to walk back to our hostel. Unfortunately, there was another pub next door to our room! we just decided to stop in for a nightcap.

Let me just interject, and say I didnt take any of these pictures, and for the record, I disapprove of pictures of food and empty glasses.

While we were there, (having lost some members of the group) we met 2 nice Scottish couples, who talked us up, and were nice enough to buy us another ample round of drinks. 

The next morning came nearly as suddenly as these next set of pictures taken on the coach ride home.

We soon found ourselves in the highlands, bound for an old roman fortress.

I dont have much to say about Hadrians wall, or the fortress that the pictures dont already tell.

Well thats it!

We arrived back on campus at about 6 pm on sunday afternoon.

Questions and comments are appreciated, but not necessary.

UPDATE: I just realized I forgot about my heading system. sorry.

1 comment:

  1. I'm one of the 6 people reading your blog and am really enjoying it...keep up the good work. H. Dreith