Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Weekend Get-a-Way

One of the coolest things about living in London is being able to travel to so many different places so easily. This weekend we decided that it would be fun to go to Scotland and see what Edinburgh had to offer us. We left the centre after classes on Thursday and were headed up the coast before dinner time! The train ride was so fun! It was about 4.5 hours and was full of beautiful scenery! At one point as we were riding along the ocean suddenly appeared, almost out of nowhere! It was so beautiful! I loved to watch the countryside and the seaside go by!

We got to Edinburgh at about 6:30 and set out to find the hostile that we were staying at. This was probably the sketchiest and scariest part of the trip. The hostile was kind of a little hole in the wall of a back alley but the inside was a lot more... or a lot less scary. The funniest part of the hostile situation was our roommate- his name was Arno. Yea, HIS name was Arno. At first this was a scary prospect but, when I came in after eating dinner and he was sitting on the floor with a bunch of the other girls and playing cards, all my fears vanished and I was suddenly ok with sleeping in the same general area as this skinny little french boy who had just moved to Edinburgh for an internship.This is what we came upon our first night in Edinburgh- it looks a little better in the day time. Imagine night time, a gang a few hundred feet away and having no idea where we were- that is how it felt.

So the first night really just consisted of getting there, finding the hostile, eating dinner and doing just a little bit of exploring. The next day was pretty jam packed. At the risk of this being too overly boring I will try to just give the highlights although the whole trip was kind of a highlight in itself so... we will see how this goes :)

Friday morning I woke up and ran around Edinburgh, I saw the castle and the Royal Mile- yea, running on the Royal Mile, not a big deal :) After coming back to the hostile and doing my best to clean myself up, we headed out to go see the castle. Edinburgh Castle is one of the biggest landmarks in the city and was pretty much amazing! It sits up high on a big rock formation over looking the whole city and makes for a pretty amazing sight to see!This is the back of the castle way up on it's rockThis is me and Hilary on a different side of the castleThis would be the front of the castle- hence the entrance :)

Ok! So the castle was cool! After the castle we walked down the Royal Mile which is the stretch of road leading up to the castle thereby making it royal by association I guess. It is a cool, shop lined street that is just old and full of history and so fun to be on and look at- in conclusion, it was a pretty great walk!! At the bottom of the Royal Mile we found ourselves at the base of Arthur's Seat. Arthur's Seat is a big hill, I don't think it is quite big enough to be termed a mountain- but it is a big hill that, if you hike to the top, you can see the whole city and everything else in the surrounding area. The view from the top was so amazing!! The hike up was a little bit of a struggle due to the mud and the overly heavy back pack that I only ever took off this whole weekend while I was sleeping. It was an adventure though and that is what this trip was all about!!!The view from about half way up... it gets betterWelcome to the top of the world!!!! So BEAUTIFUL!This is the whole group on top of the world- this was a great adventure to have together!

Ok, so getting down from the mountain was a little exciting but we did it and it was so worth it!!! Our next stop was the National Museum of Scotland. The museum was fun! It was a good break, sitting down was very very worth it!! I got to take my backpack off for like 10 minutes and that was pretty much heaven! After the museum we headed out, had dinner and then I headed back to the hostile because I was so beat! Clay- I took this picture for you in the museum because it made me think of you!

Ok, so day two! I went for a really good run this day since I knew better where I was going- it was incredible!! I then went back to the hostile and tried to clean up again for the day without really showering because showering in hostiles kind of scares me. So- we went out today and got some breakfast and then headed to the spot where we were supposed to meet our walking tour guide. The walking tour that we took was so good! It lasted 3.5 hours and took us all over the city and I learned so much! Some of my favorite stories include Maggie Dickson's story- she was convicted of hiding her pregnancy which was illegal and sentenced to death by hanging. When they hung Maggie she was simply knocked unconscious, not killed and so, on the way to the cemetery in the back of the hearse Maggie popped up out of her coffin and scared the driver out of his mind! She argued that they couldn't try her twice for the same crime and technically she was already dead so she opened up a pub on the grass market which was where she was "hanged" and every time there was a hanging she would go outside the pub and heckle the person on the gallows saying things like, "Don't worry, it's not that bad!" The pub- Maggie Dickson's Pub is still on the grass market today and it sure does make for a good story! Another story I liked that is not as positive is the story of the covenenters. The covenanters are the people who changed their religion and then were severely persecuted for it. There was a group of 500 of these people who were imprisoned by a man named "Bloody George McKenzie" in a completely open space with no cover at all in the dead of winter in Edinburgh. Even with the horrible experience that this was none of the covenenters went back on their new found religious beliefs- talk about dedication, this was a pretty inspiring story, sad, but inspiring!This is the Royal Mile where our walking tour started.This is the back of the coffee shop that JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter in. The top middle window is the window she would look out of and see...This school which was her inspiration for Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.This is inside the pub that we stopped at for lunch, the very pub where I ate haggis and drank a delicious hot chocolate! It was also just fun to be in a Scottish pub!This is where the tour ended. This is Prince Street Gardens which used to be a lake but was drained and turned into a beautiful park!

After the tour we did just a little bit more exploring and then it was pretty much time to go to the station and catch our train back home to London. The train ride home was even nicer than the train rider there- our train was newer and the seats were more comfortable and there was more leg space- glorious! I discovered on this trip that I love train travel! I promised Clay a picture in front of a train so here it is and a couple more train pictures! Scotland was beautiful and the trip was amazing! I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to experience all of these amazing places!Here it is Clay! This is what the train looked like that I rode to Scotland!This is what the inside of the train looked like. There were regular seats like these and also seats that faced each other with tables in between them.

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to let you know what is in the background of your picture from the top of the extinct volcano in Edinburgh.

    The closing decade of the 19th century was something of a golden era for the development of golf in Scotland with clubs springing up all over the country. In Edinburgh, the financial community were anxious to create their own course and this they did in 1895 by setting up the Insurance & Banking Golf Club at Duddingston.

    The estate at Duddingston, owned by the Duke of Abercorn and set on the east flank of Edinburgh, beneath the spectacular backdrop of the 823 feet high extinct volcano that is Arthur's Seat, was considered by the club's founding architect Willie Park to be of a size that would make a "first class course".

    The land, part of a former deer estate, has many links with Scotland's history including in 1745, prior to the Battle of Prestonpans, the encampment of the cavalry of Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, in an area adjoining the course and known today as Cavalry Park.

    I hope you noticed something as important as a golf club! I love you. Dad