New Year's Eve 2009/2010

Trip Start May 01, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Saturday, January 9, 2010

On New Year's Eve, after a bad nights sleep, we were up early for our driving tour of Edinburgh. We took in some of the famous sites, including Holyrood Palace, the Scottish Parliament buildings and the house of Robert Louis Stevenson (creator of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hide). We also saw the grave of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who in the late 1800s, sat by the grave of his policeman owner, for 14 years after he died when Bobby was 2 years old. Our guide told also us about the local ales, one of which is called 'The Bomb’ and is 32% alcohol! I didn’t manage to find any in the bars, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing… Our tour finished in front of Edinburgh Castle and we then had about 5 hours to do as we pleased. I went to the Edinburgh Whisky Experience where I looked around the shop, which sells 300 different types of Whisky! I found a 40 year aged bottle, which was for sale for 1600 pounds (NZ$4000) and there was also two bottles of 25yo Ardbeg, a gun case, 8 Sterling Silver cups, a pen and some sampling notes, which altogether were for sale for 10,000 pounds, or NZ$25,000! As nice as it looked I decided to pass on that.

I then headed back up the hill to do a tour of Edinburgh Castle. The ‘castle’ label threw me a little bit – I had always though of a castle as a single building surrounded by a wall or moat, but this was made up of many separate buildings. These included the Royal Palace, which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels, the Scottish War Memorial building, a war museum and living quarters. I saw the Scottish Crown Jewels, but as was expected the security around them was quite strong and so I wasn’t able to take any photos. The Castle had a great view over Edinburgh in pretty much all directions, particularly of the area where the street party was to be held later that evening.

I then went for a wander around the Royal Mile, bought some gloves (it was very cold!) grabbed some lunch and bought some Whisky for the evening, then hopped back on the bus to our hostel.

In the evening I caught the bus into town at 9:30pm, then went and joined in the festivities of the Edinburgh Hogmanay Street Party. This is a roped off section in the middle of the city, below Edinburgh Castle, with DJs and bands playing on 3 stages, two additional orchestral concerts, food and drink vans, a Ferris Wheel and other fairground rides, and over 80,000 other party goers! It had an awesome atmosphere, and there were fireworks every hour up to midnight. I spent most of the night with some other people on our Topdeck trip, but coming up to midnight I managed to get stuck at one of the stages and we all got split up. Not to worry though, as once the countdown finished it was all eyes to the sky above Edinburgh Castle, for one of the best fireworks displays I have seen!

After a bit more partying we were back on the bus to our hostel. It was a great night, and an awesome way to see in the New Year!
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