Trip Start Aug 07, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Steps: loads (18,000+)
Castles: 5
Meal of the week: Pre-cooked rice risotto with mushrooms
Number of times it rained: Every night

Our entry to the `Dunedin of the north' was very low-key, having travelled up to Edinburgh from London on an overnight bus. Great for saving money, (GBP6, plus one night's accommodation we didn't need!), but not so great for the neck.

Edinburgh was a lovely place, a bit cold and windy, but we were fully occupied for three days and still didn't do everything we wanted to do.

We spent one afternoon out at Rosslyn, about 7 miles away. The chapel, which featured in The Da Vinci Code was really beautiful, for once a movie didn't spoil the real thing. It was good because the carvings have aged a lot over the last few hundred years and there hasn't been any attempt to restore them, they're in their natural state.

Edinburgh Castle, the `must see', was good. Liz really like walking around the outside of the buildings, trying to imagine what it was like in its prime. Jonny liked looking at the strategic defences and went a bit mad with the camera. The coolest bit was when they fired the one o'clock gun, (see pictures), it was a bit louder than we expected, hence the blurriness of the photo. The displays were good for kids, but it was a bit disappointing that you couldn't really see what it was like inside, it was all recreated or `restored'.

The highlight of Edinburgh was a Literary Pub Tour. We thought it might have been a bit dumb, since it was focussed on Scottish writers that we don't know much about, but it was a really entertaining evening. We stopped at several pubs, where two actors argued about the morals of the writers, one advocating their more genteel side, the other focussing on their whoring and drinking.

We could see some similarities between Edinburgh and Dunedin, the buildings were sort of the same style and the street names were the same, but they're not as similar as Dunedin promoters would have you believe.

Despite dumping half our stuff in London, somehow we still managed to fill our small rental car. The drive up to Stirling was interesting, as Jonny is yet to figure out the speed limit, and keeps turning on the windscreen wipers every time he wants to indicate!

On arrival at our first camping ground in Stirling we discovered that it's not the norm for campsites to have kitchens like they do in NZ. How come no one told us that?! We now have a wee gas cooker, which actually cost us over $NZ100 due to the parking ticket we got while buying it.

Jonny insisted on a visit to St Andrews, (the home of golf), where we got lost multiple times, one way street marking are not very clear and signs pointing to information centres lead you to the waps. Liz was on map duty.

Driving up the country to Inverness we expected to see some of the dramatic scenery everyone keeps raving about. Instead we pretty much saw NZ. Hopefully things will improve when we drive down to Glasgow through the Great Glen tomorrow.

Yesterday we went to Fort George, where Jonny once again admired guns and defences, and Liz one again waited for him to finish. We then went to the Dallas Dhu distillery, for a tour and a sample of Whisky, which was older than both of us. We thought it was alright, but Liz couldn't help grimacing after each sip.

We have done what thousands before us have failed to do - we have found Nessie. The trail began on the shores of Loch Ness, where we encountered yet another castle, (we're so over castles), a wedding and a cheesy gift shop, but no monster. Nice lake, but it could have been anywhere. However as we headed back to the car after a fruitless afternoon spent searching we spied a flash of movement behind some trees... investigating we found the elusive Nesssie! Maybe everyone else missed her because she's much smaller than the folk tales portray her. What's more we even have photographic evidence! Hurrah! We're going to be famous!

Scotland has been good to us, but we feel it's about time to move on to a warmer climate. We fly to Brussels in a couple of days to start our Europe leg.
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