Easter in Edinburgh

Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Sep 17, 2011

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Hello Again.,

With Easter fast approaching Sonia and I decided to not let the long weekend slip us by and head up to Edinburgh for a city escape.

We had left booking quite late and with prices by train and plane being so dear we decided to travel El Cheapo and take the bus. Looking back in hindsight I probably wouldnt do it again as 8 hours trapped on a bus in uncomfy seats is not the best of fun but never the less it was cheap and suited my budget so I cant complain too much.

After work on Thursday we headed to the bus station for our overnight journey to Edinburgh. One thing I can say is that cheap bus travel is manic. As soon as the bus pulled in people rushed from everywhere. I have to say I honestly felt sorry for the bus driver as I saw one Indian lady wallop him with her handbag for not letting her on the bus fast enough....ahhh the joys of being a bus driver. At least when I deal with cranky customers over the phone they cant physically hurt me.

The drive itself was long it took a bit to get used to sleeping on the bus but what made it more difficult was that we had a bunch of Polish tourists who were drunk and loud and sitting right behind us. To make matters worse this same bunch of loud people seemed to follow us on our holiday everywhere.....at the shops, at restaurants and much to our joy also on the bus ride home on Monday.

Eventually we arrived into Edinburgh to be greeted with blue skies and frigging freezing temperatures....it was absolutely beautiful. Old buildings and cobbled paths with the huge castle on the hill setting the backdrop. We checked into our 5 star hotel for night one compliments of work which was absolutely gorgeous. The only downside was that they gave us a double room instead of a twin meaning Sonia had to put up with my snoring. On the plus side they gave us a Business Suite room which was just awesome.

That first day we headed out to Rosslyn Chapel which was made famous in the movie Da Vinci Code. Its in the the scene where Langdon and Sophie discoover the St Clair family tree. The chapel itself was covered by a huge canopy as it turns out that previous restoration to the property left it water logged and therefore growing moss and lichen and in need of severe drying out. We were able to walk around the top of the chapel which was neat to see the detailed carvings. What was more impressive was the huge hail storm which was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Huge balls of ice flying down so heavily that you could see it.

After the tour of the chapel Sonia and I went off to do a bit of exploring ourselves on the grounds that the chapel is set. We soon came across the remains of Rosslyn Castle which I am so glad that we stumbled upon as I personally found it far more interesting than the chapel itself. The remnants of the castle are also seen in the movie at the end when Sophie is wrapped in the blanket after having discovered she has living relatives. The remnants were just such a rich red in colour and were set on a hill looking over a river..it was just so picturesque.

In the afternoon we decided to visit the famous Edinburgh Castle.....the grounds themselves were definately impressive and the views over the city amazing however both Sonia and I are in agreement that it was a bit of a let down as in all the buildings it had been made overly touristy. We had been expecting to see original insides of buildings and interiors as it would have been but instead all the buildings had been kitted out like modern buildings and museums inside with models of people. It was like they had designed it for childern learning about history. But all in all it was still worth it to say we had been there.

After our expedition to the castle we visited a tartan making exhibition and actually got to see them making Sonias clan tartan. I also managed to convince Sonia to dress up in a traditional Scottish dress and have photos taken with me in the style of ye olde photo booth that used to be set up in Victoria Park Market back home.

That pretty much bought us to the end of day one.....I was fast asleep curled up in my nice hotel bed by 7 oclock making up for my lousy sleep the night before. Unfortunately Sonia had yet another bad nights sleep after having to listen to me snore.

Day two saw us sadly leaving our flashy hotel and downgrading to backpackers....nothing beats having to wear jandals in the shower. We took a Haggis day tour out to Scottish Highlands and off to Loch Ness to try catch a sighting of Nessie. The day was long with over 512 km covered but extremely worth it. The highlands were beautiful and  the snow capped mountains unbeliveable....all i can say was man it was good to be out of the city.

At Loch Ness we took a cruise and to be honest it was much like any boat cruise but what really made it was the guide Ricky who has devoted his adult life to finding Nessie. It was just incredible to hear him speak and you can tell he whole heartedly believes in it. He believes in it so much so that his theory is that the lake actually has 18 creatures. Hes of the belief that Nessie isnt a monster merely a descendant of the dinosaurs that has survived through the ages....which in all honestly does seem plausible to me....after all NZ is home to the Tuatara so why cant it be possible in other areas of the world?. It was the type of tour you dont do for the cruise its the type you do just to hear the guy speak. And he definately did have me believing...

On our third day we spent it exploring the city. Climbing to the top of Arthurs seat to see the best view of the city and also going to Calton Hill to see the Roman remnants that look over the town. We strolled through the beautiful Princes Streeet gardens which we were told were so furtile due it being the cities poo pond for hundred of years.....as gross as it sounds the gardens really were green and flowers were so bright. I know it sounds odd but it was so nice to see greenery and the colours in the flowers....guess I had forgotten how long I had been living in a concrete jungle for now.

That night we did a tour of the Real Mary Kings Close which basically takes you into the underground streets that the city is now based upon. The hosts were kitted in period costumes and really made the experience. It was just really interesting and although still a tourist attraction it felt more authentic than the castle as you were able to see rooms preserved as they were all those years ago.

That took us to the end of our third day and left us with a very long coach ride back home the following day. As long as the ride was, it was made all that much better by the fact that it snowed......It had to be murphys law that the one time im out of London it decides to snow at home....but even so the snow in Edinburgh was just as and perhaps even more exciting.

I absolutely loved Edinburgh, it was a gorgeous city with so much rich history and culture. Nothing beats feeling the wind freeze you to your bones as you walk down the street while hearing bagpipes play in the distance. Had it not been for for the freezing cold I would definately consider living there over London.

And so that brings me to the end of this entry, hopefully I havent bored you all too much....until next time.....

p.s To everyone who is wandering where there emails are from me......my laptop has broken meaning I only have internet access at work. So Im just a little bit slack at the moment only able to email when I can find a few free minutes. Miss you all!
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