Sunday, 4 March 2007

SCOTLAND - Edinburgh

A cheap New Year flight with Flybe to Edinburgh from Southampton to start off the year’s travelling. Just the medicine after Christmas as well. Arriving in the morning, this was just a one night break in the capital city of Scotland. We had booked a fairly central but discreetly located hotel, Taylor’s Hall. Edinburgh is split in to respects. Firstly, some of it, such as the famous castle is ancient. Then surrounding it are the Georgian streets and buildings, leading up to Carlton Hill. The other respect is the way the city is physically at two levels. Looking at the map, I could not understand how the roads connected, but when we arrived by bus from the airport, the walk to the hotel revealed that Edinburgh could have been something dreamt up by MC Escher.

We spent the day walking around the castle area, looking in the shops on the beautiful cobbled Victoria Street and Grassmarket, almost missing the Greyfriar’s Bobby statue. Heading up the Royal Mile, stopping at pubs and the People’s Story museum, we reached the gates of the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Scottish Parliament building that cost ten times the original estimate to build it. The climb to the top of Carlton Hill meanders through houses and parkland. The half finished national monument, like roman columns is visible from most of the town. The statue of Nelson is equally prominent. As the evening drew in, the lights of Princes Street became visible and we descended to the warmth of the pubs along this stretch. In the evening, we climbed the steps to the top of the castle hill and dined at The Witchery, a renowned restaurant with a wine list that offered unimaginably expensive bottles, such as pink champagne at £2500 a throw. The food was very good, but I never felt that it justified the price tag…

In the day light, the number of steps to the top of the castle hill became apparent. We toured the castle which was just as good as I expected it to be, followed by the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre, an odd carriage tour of the whisky making process as you sip a taster of single malt from a souvenir glass. Opposite we saw the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition and the Camera Obscura, offering a unique view of the city through a lens. Walked down through the gardens to Prices Street and behind to the shopping areas of Rose Street and George Street. After a meal in an American diner and stroll through the Waverly Market, we caught the bus back to airport to conclude this quick getaway.

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