Kilts and Castles

Trip Start Apr 04, 2007
Trip End Oct 22, 2007

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Saturday, October 20, 2007

Note: This is written a long time after the trip. We realized we never wrote it, so this will be a bit different in memory, I'm sure.

The trip to Edinburgh involved a metro, a bus, a plane, a train, a bus, a train, and a fair walk to our hostel. Fortunately, when we got there, it was all worth it. We were pretty wiped out at this point from our extended travels and quite a full day of lugging our gear around and standing in lines. We finally arrived in Edinburgh and made our way down the Royal Mile (super touristy stretch of road... Bollucks it's only a mile!) and finally found our way to our hostel. The buildings were incredibly picturesque, and gave Edinburgh a very historic feel.

We passed by a statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a faithful dog that became a local legend for always visiting the grave of his dead master for close to fourteen years, and the cafe where J.K. Rowling worked on the first Harry Potter book, on our way to our hostel which turned out to be slightly disappointing. Our first hostel in Edinburgh turned out to be a party hostel, with drunken German school groups waking us up, promptly, every night at 3am. Not to put a downer on the party, but it wasn't a good time. The hostel was quite nicely located though, so the next morning we wandered out, bleary eyed, for a fairly chill day taking in the sights.

We started our day wandering the Royal Mile on a crisp, chill Autumn day. We window shopped for a bit, scoping the two main items that the Royal Mile had on sale... whiskey and Kilts. Later we headed up to Edinburgh castle, painfully handed over the entrance fee ($33.00 NZ each) and made the most of our visit. Edinburgh Castle was totally worth it. Filled with amazing history of Kings and Queens, treason and intrigue, war and politics, and museums that did a great job of showing it all off. We stood in the room where Mary, Queen of the Scots, gave birth to King James the II. We went through room, after room, after room, after room of the incredible hype and history around the Scottish crown jewels. After room, after room. They were lost, they were found, they were stolen, and recovered, they were fought over, they were given away, and someone's maid smuggled them out of the castle in a bundle of hay (not necessarily in that order). We eventually arrived the the room where they presided, and they were pretty. We wandered the ramparts looking down over Scotland with amazing views. We stayed for the One o'clock gun done by the very officious looking (but probably deaf by now) Gunnery Sergeant. We wandered the Military Museum as well, taking the the great history of the Scottish Regiments.

We were starting to get the feeling that the Scottish... they're really proud of being Scottish. Really proud. Really... really proud.

We took our wanderings about and went to the free National Museum of Scotland, where we wandered about over the next couple of days. We saw the now deceased and stuffed Dolly, the first cloned sheep, quite a cool Egyptian collection, and some amazing displays on geology, bugs, and birds... including a New Zealand Kakapo... a flightless green parrot that is one of the most endangered species on the planet. Why a stuffed one was recently acquired by the National Scottish Museum, we'll never know.

Our evening trip took us to the 'Mosque Kitchen'. Literally out of a local Mosque's Kitchen, the muslim community there serves up some of the most amazing, and comparably cheap, curries on rice, with chapati bread, served on plastic plates with a sitting area made up of rag tag tables and chairs under a tarp. It was obviously very popular with the nearby university student population, and very popular with us.

Eventually we moved hostels to a much nicer, and quieter converted villa in a local neighborhood. We had a beautiful walk through a local park to get to and from our hostel into city central, and soaked in a bit more of the everyday feel of the place. That night we went out with a few other hostelers to watch the finals of the Rugby World Cup. We pushed and shoved our way in a very very crowed bar, and by half time had had enough of trying to stand on each others shoulders just to view the screen. The two of us headed off and ended up and a quiet little local pub, where we sipped our pints and chatted to some local social workers while Dan traded jests with the guys at the bar. The social worker couple were incredibly friendly and we had an awesome time finishing watching the game on the small pub tv. We wandered back to the hostel, getting lost several times in the dark, but finally made it back and crashed into bed.

Overall we had an awesome time in Edinburgh and loved the place. We wish we had some more time and money to spend here, even live here for awhile. Who knows, maybe one day.

Oh, and as ironic as it sounds... not one day went by without us hearing bagpipes playing on the streets... several times a day.

All our best from Scotland

Dan and Gabes
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