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Road Trip

Weekend in Scotland

Lawrence Kesteloot (Tuesday, May 29, 2001)

We spent two days in Edinburgh, Scotland, with Drew and Greta, our friends from San Francisco. Edinburgh is pronounced Edinborough, which is unusual for Britain, where the pronunciation of a city name is usually shorter than its spelling. For example, Birmingshiretonham is pronounced "Burem".

It turns out there are very few American-style hotels in Britain. They do exist, but most people just stay in bed and breakfasts, which in the States are mostly for romantic weekends. Ours in Edinburgh was built in 1820, clearly for guests with a href="Image-Edinburgh-Hotel_doors.jpg.html">a wide variety of heights. We slept in what used to be the attic.

We learned after our trip that Scotland sees two weeks of sun a year, in the middle of May. We apparently arrived on Day One and Day Two because Saturday morning one of the seven hills on which Edinburgh is built slowly appeared outside our hotel window. It was cloudless the rest of the weekend.

We walked downtown and headed straight for Edinburgh Castle, which is perched on another one of the hills, just overlooking the center of town. Within the walls of the castle are the crown jewels (inside an exhibit which is even more impressive than the jewels), several war memorials and war museums (we forget what a castle is for), St. Margaret's Chapel (built 1189), some dungeons, lots of stairs, men in skirts, cannons that go off at 1pm every day, etc.

We then headed for Princes Street, the main downtown street of Edinburgh, for a pint and some fish-and-chips. Drew and I dared each other to eat some haggis, the national dish of Scotland, which is made by boiling animal internal organs in a bag made of inside-out sheep stomach lining. Sadly none of the pubs we found served this.

We walked around eventually getting to Charlotte's Square. One of the houses on the square is the birthplace of Alexander Graham Bell. Who knew he was Scottish?! Not me, I thought all inventors were American.

In the middle of town stands the Scott Monument, named after Sir Walter Scott, who is famous for many things including making the wearing of tartan (plaid) legal after 100 years of it being banned. The Monument is 200 feet tall, completely black (inside and out) from pollution, and for �2.50 you can walk up 287 steps to the top. The staircase at the bottom is narrow for one person (picture by Drew), and it gradually decreases in width and height as you climb up. People are going both up and down and you can get stuck half-way up when you run into those going the opposite direction. I'm not claustrophobic but I admit I felt a bit nervous after not being able to move for about three minutes. The view from the top is the best in town, though, and Drew took this great picture by sticking his arm out and taking a shot downwards. There's a room a third of the way up with some nice stained-glass windows.

We then took a bus tour, which is something we've now done in many cities we've visited. Jennifer's mother first recommended it for New Orleans and it's really a great way to be introduced to a city.

We went back to the hotel, napped, went to eat at a Chinese restaurant, then had many pints at a pub called Shakespeare, where a male pseudo-stripper in a kilt showed up for a bachelorette party, and a very drunk guy in another kilt told us all about Scotland.

Sunday we visited Holyrood, the royal palace of Scotland. The monarch of the United Kingdom stays at Holyrood when visiting Scotland. The rest of the year you can tour it, but unfortunately no pictures were allowed inside. The palace is attached to the ruins of a 900-year-old abbey.

We had lunch, ate some fudge, and joined the rest of the crowd on the lawn next to the Scott Monument for a few hours before our flight back to London.

A few nice pictures Drew took: stroller, dungeon, and church.

Drew_and_Greta.jpg Kilt.jpg DSCF0044.JPG Scott_Memorial_inside.jpg Mountain_fog.jpg
DSCF0135.JPG St_Margaret3.jpg Scott_Memorial1.jpg Hotel.jpg Castle3.jpg
Hotel_doors.jpg Jennifer_room2.jpg Holyrood1.jpg Jennifer_and_stairs.jpg DSCF0112.JPG
DSCF0074.JPG DSCF0062.JPG Shakespeare3.jpg DSCF0114.JPG


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