Archive for April, 2007

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Day Seventeen: Edinburgh

April 14, 2007

Our second day in Edinburgh started off grey and rainy, but the skies cleared as we began our day of sightseeing and hiking. Before we took off, we had a massive breakfast which kept us going until 5 p.m.: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomato, fried mushrooms, plus juice and coffee. Our servers in the breakfast room were very nice and helpful with info, and we enjoyed our conversations with them every morning before we set out on our adventures.

Our agenda for the day was to climb the Scott Monument, hike up Arthur’s Seat, and have haggis at The Sheep Heid Inn. We began by taking a bus around the city, just to become more familiar with the area. After riding the entirity of a large loop around the city, we ended up getting off the bus and walking to Princes Street to the Scott Monument.

The outside of the monument features sculptures of characters from Sir Walter Scott’s novels, and as you climb the narrow (i.e. claustrophobic) staircase up to the top, there are four levels which allow you step out and take in the beautiful views of the city from above. Some photos:

Athur’s Seat from Scott Monument:

Princes Street and Calton Hill from above:

As we reached the top of the monument, the staircase became even more narrow. I realize that I’m not the postergirl for all things slim, but at the top level the entrance for the lookout was so small that I could barely squeeze my butt through! Guess I should have showed a little less enthusiasm at breakfast….ha. On the way back down, I took a picture of the staircase at it’s most narrow:

Going back down the 287 steps to the bottom without stopping on the lookout levels made me a little dizzy, but it was so worth it for the view! I took this photo of the monument when we got out:

As you can see it was partially eclipsed by some of the festival rides. Beautiful day, huh? We were so lucky to have such a perfect day for our climbing and hiking!

Before walking to the Royal Mile on our way to Holyrood Park to begin climbing Arthur’s Seat, Drew and I stopped to pick up some water for the hike. On the mile itself, we encountered some friendly locals on our way. This is what I really loved about Edinburgh. Everyone who knows me is aware of my London obsession. Such a great city, with so many fun things to do. But compared to Edinburgh, London is cold. If you’re stopped on a street corner poring over a map, people couldn’t give a crap if they ran you over, just so long as you get out of their way. Being in Edinburgh felt more like being in a small town. Whenever Drew and I were utterly confused, looking at a map, and/or arguing over which direction to head in, someone would always approach us and offer their help. It was really nice, and just so darn refreshing. I loved and really appreciated every minute we were there.

But back to our trek. There are several different paths you can take, while climbing Arthur’s Seat. We ended up choosing three such paths, as the first two we took didn’t take us to the summit, but instead, kind of meandered us around the sides. Not that we minded, since it was such a beautiful day:

This is one of my favorites of Drew and I:

Drew’s camouflaged here:

We really had a great time wandering and around and enjoying the views, though it was quite windy at the top. Drew and I eventually made our way back down, with The Sheep Heid Inn being our next goal. It was around five at this point, and we were starting to get hungry. A little bird told me about The Sheep Heid, and all I knew was that it was at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat in Duddingston Village. Of course we ended up getting lost, and walked several more miles along the way. By then I was hungry, tired, cranky, and my feet were killing me. Thankfully another wonderful Scot came to our rescue, and she gave us the correct info on how to get to the pub.

Once there (sweet relief!), we were greeted by our delightful bartender. We mentioned how we got lost looking for the place and he jokingly made some kind of comment about how the building had “only” been there for the past 700 years. Drew picked his brain about what kind of whisky he should try. All I wanted besides some food was a pint of Strongbow, but they both convinced me to have a wee dram myself. When in Rome, right? The bartender picked out something more complex for Drew, and something totally wimpy for myself as I don’t really do liquor. We gave him our food order, then settled into a cozy booth in the back by the fireplace. The same little bird who recommended the Sheep Heid to me also told me that they had excellent haggis, so that’s what we both had. It was perfect:

It felt so nice to relax, and give our feet a rest! We enjoyed our meal, then took a few snaps of the place outside:

After saying goodbye to our wonderful bartender and the pub dog, we hopped a bus back into the city to the Royal Mile area. I had read about Frankenstein’s pub, and wanted to give it a go. I tend to like all things kitsch, and Frankenstein’s was definately that. Even more amusing is that the pub used to be a church. We each had a pint, and enjoyed the cheesy scenery there:

Shortly after, we hopped a bus, and dragged our tired selves back to the Ardenlee…

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Day Sixteen: Edinburgh

April 5, 2007

The Slacker returns! Now back to our regularily scheduled program…

Our trip to Edinburgh began very early in the morning. Mark offered to drive us to the station so we wouldn’t have to lug our bags there. Our train left around 7 a.m. It was still dark outside, and Drew slept for the duration of our four hour trip. I read a bit, then enjoyed the scenery out my window as the sun came up. To pass the time, I also kept track of our journey on a map, drawing a line from each stop we made to pick up more passengers. Passing through the Lake District I caught quite an eyeful of beautiful landscape and what seemed like a bazillion sheep. I tried to take a picture of the area from my window and this was the best that I got:

Drew and I were hoping to get the Lake District during our trip, but even with three weeks, we just didn’t have enough time, energy, or money. Hopefully we’ll get there next time!

We arrived at Edinburgh’s Waverley Station around 11:30, and made a caffeine stop before checking out our guide books to see which direction we should head in. Outside it was a perfect day: warm, though windy (50s) with plenty of sunshine. It was a pleasant break from all the doom, gloom, and rain we had almost everyday in the Stockport/Manchester area. Our caffeine levels replenished, we began our 20 minute trek to our B&B, the Ardenlee Guest House. Edinburgh is quite hilly, so thankfully our walk to the B&B with our heavy bags was primarily downhill. This is the first picture we took, heading down Hanover Street to Eyre, where the B&B is:

At the Ardenlee, we chatted with our host, Alasdair, who was extremely helpful with our questions and got us all settled in our beautiful room. Since I didn’t sleep on the train, I wanted to spend an hour or so there to relax and clean up before beginning our exploration of the city. On our walk back up Hanover, we found an Italian restaurant with good lunch specials and ate there. The food was great, but the service was attrocious and our waiter completely ignored us. Granted, service in the U.K. is much different than that in the U.S. in that the servers don’t rely on tips to make money, but this was ridiculous. What seemed like hours later, we finally got our check, and we headed out to explore.

We had a good idea of what our main agenda would be for the next few days, but for the first day, everything was up in the air. There was a winter festival going on, which we decided to investigate later in the day. I took some photos of our surroundings while we made our way to the Royal Mile:

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