vineri, 19 septembrie 2014

Scotland: Edinburgh

One year to this day, a morning train from King's Cross was taking me to Edinburgh for my last trip in UK. After getting off in the majestic rail station in the very heart of the city of Edinburgh I was shocked by two things. First the medieval beauty of everything around, secondly by the large number of people with with kilts, pipes, flags and blue painted faces.
No, I was not in Avatar, Scotland just proclaimed the referendum to break away from the United Kingdom. At first I could not understand why anybody would really seriously consider this.

The answer comes when you visit the Castle of Edinburgh. Built on top of a small volcanic mountain it offers great views of the surroundings and a very interesting historical visit. The castle stood - got destroyed, rebuilt, destroyed again and rebuilt again, witness for centuries of war between Brits and Scots. So going to a secessionist referendum no longer looked so surprising to me.

Visiting Scotland's capital
If you have the possibility to take a weekend to Edinburgh, than please do so. This is one of the best places I have seen in all my time in UK. The city is extremely beautiful, the people were all very friendly and eager to help me out when I was confusing Holyrood Road with Holyrood Park Road on the map, which of course were 20 minutes apart one another.
You must visit here the castle, walk around the train station and cross the bridge by foot (you will realize what bridge I am talking about the moment you get there), stroll the gardens below the castle and if you are in for a hike also climb Arthur's seat - another short volcanic mountain that gives you side view of the city.
There are a lot of very nice traditional shops in the city center where you can buy a lot of exquisite stuff.
For a delicious treat, make it to one of the pubs on George St and get a full pack of ribs with a pint of Scottish ale.

How to get to Edinburgh and how much does it cost?
I have used, and I recommend, the site Here you can buy a combo and it is really worth it. A return trip by train had cost me 50+65 GBP. The trains leave from King's Cross every hour, but you really need to book in advance otherwise it is extremely expensive. The same site sold me a room in a very nice and tidy hotel (Mason house) for another 65 GBP and 2 days travel card in Edinburgh for 3 GBP each. It is worth mentioning that the same hotel was charging 100+ GBP at the reception desk and a minimum of two nights booking. So that site got me a really good deal. Also the hotel breakfast was one of the best I've had.

For visiting the castle you will need 16 GBP, I do not recommend the audio guide as the toured guide is one of the best I've ever had the pleasure to assist.
Everything else is generally a bit less expensive than London, but make sure to enjoy everything as if it was the only time you visit Edinburgh!

My funny adventure
It started to get dark and I was exhausted after my 5 hours train ride, climbing Arthur's Seat, walking through the town center to cover as much as possible so I decided to take one last bus ride to the near by end of the line (according to my map). And so I did, and after 15-20 minutes in the bus it looked no way near the end and the bus was almost deserted. I realized that I took the bus in the other direction (left side driving can still confuse you even after 3 months). I asked a passenger if there are any other buses going back (have not seen one for 10 minutes) and he answered me that this was the last bus going to port! I got down and was trying to figure out where I was on the map. It was dark, cold raining and I had my rain hood all the way over my eyes. A couple crossed nearby and I asked them for directions, not realizing how I was looking. I am glad they did not run away and that they pointed me to the nearest bus route that was still running.
In London night buses ride all night long as you'd imagine. Well in the tiny city with little action on a Saturday night, night buses run only 2 more hours than normal ones. So you'd imagine how happy I was after running for 15 minutes to the city center to catch what was probably the last night bus that took me to my hotel. (yes I did run)

Un comentariu:

Luminita-Francisca spunea...

I am so proud of you.