Casa’s Blog

A Life Abroad

If I lay here, If I just lay here, Would you lie with me, And just forget the world?

For the record, you may notice the exclusively Scottish song lyrics being used as titles 😉

Now my Saturday in Edinburgh started with a nice breakfast.  It was the usual Hostel included breakfast of toast, cereal and jam…but there was one exception.  The staff were actually serving it to you.  If you wanted a coffee, drink or more milk you just asked them instead of finding it yourself.  Actually it was more them asking you then you needed to ask them – this place was great!  I must remember to give the Westend Hotel a good review on the online hostel raters.

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Now our first task for the day was probably what is the only MUST SEE attraction in Edinburgh – the castle.  As the other boys were in a hostel next to the castle we walked our way over to their place.  It was great to be able to walk through the old and new city and just look at the level of history around you (For starters the ‘new’ city…is as old if not older than european settlement in Australia). Yes there has been new buildings built, technological advancements made, etc – but it really is a place full of history and charm.  Even walking to castle through a farmers market seemed to add something to the experience.

Now when we got to the castle we were lucky.  On the way out we saw a massive line of people lining up to buy tickets but as we were early there was no need to wait.  Unfortunately though the Scots seemed to have realised that everyone who goes to Edinburgh HAS to do the castle and thus they extort you a little with the price.  It was 10 pounds 77p for us adults – they didn’t even have  a student rate.  There was the options of the audio tours or a guided tour but as we were a group of 4 to start with…we decided to take our maps and wander around and experience it for ourselves.

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I suppose the one thing most people will do when they walk around Edinburgh castle is compare it to the Tower of London.  For all intents and purposes they are really similar.  Both contain the crown jewels, both have been added to over the years, both hold significance for the towns history and both are main tourist attractions.  Unfortunately, the Edinburgh castle falls short in any comparisons though. They have tried hard but the Crown jewels aren’t as spectacular, the buildings not as well exhibited and generally less things of interest. It was quite moving to see the Scottish War Memorial though which has been incorporated into the centre of the castle.

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For me though the best part of the castle was the views of the city.  As it was a clear day, you could see this…

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From the castle, we then did the walk down the royal mile that leads to the Queen’s palace in Edinburgh.  Now to call it a mile is a lie I think, it seems a LOT longer haha but this could just be because 1/3rd of it is just a street.  The 2/3rds of it leading from the castle are quite interesting though.  There are a few historical buildings/churches, some great bars and resteraunts, the odd busker (Gotta love the bagpipes) and of course, the invasion of “Scottish tourist shops” selling the exact same items of kitsch such as kilts, tartan everything, Nessy stuffed toys, etc.  It was a fun walk, even if a little long.

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The palace on the other end wasn’t that exciting though.  It didn’t look that grand and none of us really felt like paying the fee to go inside to check it out. Opposite from the Palace though is Scottish parliament house that looks as if the architects son dropped pick up sticks all over the floor.  It is a truly ugly building and another one of those buildings that regrets being so ‘modern’.  Especially in such an old and aesthetically pleasing city.  It is just wrong.

It was then time for lunch.  If you know how we travel by now, you will know we headed for the nearest chinese buffet.  A great, cheap, way to fill yourselves up when travelling.  Th english also love their chinese buffet as much as us, as there is 2 or 3 in every city at least. This one was extra special though. You may have heard of a smallish book series called Harry Potter. Well as it proudly proven by the sign on the wall out front and numerous newspaper articles inside, this chinese buffet was once a cafe.  It was in this cafe that J.K Rowling wrote the first book of the Harry Potter series…unfortunately we didn’t do anything nearly as productive.

Now I have to be careful how I phrase this next section as I don’t want to get sued.  I am not a religious person, nor am I a member of any cults that I am aware of. However, to some extent both of these organisations have interested me as an outsider.  Many discussions with my grandmother have touched on these kind of theological issues, the kind of topics you’re supposed to avoid with family haha.  So when we were walking down the road and were offered ‘Free Stress tests’…I jumped at the opportunity to old on to two metal poles while a woman asked me some relatively well phrased socially engineered questions about how I am stressed.  Apparently I am stressed…really stressed about university and family (although who isn’t? 😉 haha).  That is what the readings on the machine said as the woman sat there with only one hand above the table. Surprisingly when Josh and Brent took the test as well they were ALSO stressed about the same things and their people also had one hand, the one closest to the machine, under the table – I am sure it is just a surprising coincidence 😛 I was then offered this wonderful opportunity to buy this series of books to find out how I can relieve this stress!  Yay for me!  Long story short, Mum and Dad – please send me a lot more money as I am still stressed and I have spent all my savings 😉 hehe

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After that little adventure we then continued our waltz around the city (including stopping in on a clothing shop called Cult just a few doors down from the stress test haha) and eventualy decided to walk up to Calton Hill.  We didn’t know it was Calton Hill until we arrived though – we just walked to the “parthanon looking structure on the hill”.  When we were up the top though we saw a portugseuse canon, a few momuments a brilliant view of city once again.  This time from a completely different angle.

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After a long day of many steps, we then headed back to our hostel to relax.  The plan was to chill in the bar (which we did), watch some TV in our room (which we did) and then go out to dinner/drinks (which we didn’t haha).  What happened to change our plans was a torrential downpour – our first experience with the wild weather of Scotland. It was so strong and windy that the traffic lights were visably swaying and I swear a saw a few fish drown. We ended up making the most of our bar in the hostel (and the company of Kurt and the other bar tender). We sat, watched TV (Top Gear episode one after   lol), drank a variety of drinks (the scottish bartender loved me when I ordered a few of the different Scotch Whiskies on his recommendation or a Best beer, but hated me for ordering a Midori and Lemonade haha.  All were very nice though).  We even ended up ordering in Pizza before we starved, Kurt even getting in on it as his boss wasn’t around.  We ordered Domino’s which was really nice.  100000000000 times better than Australian Dominos.  Unfortunately though it was only when we converted the price that we realised we had just pay 70 bucks for 3 Pizzas, thankfully they were large and filled us up sufficiently.

As the rain didn’t look like easing up, we hit the hay about 11:30pm.  To be well rested for the day ahead.

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March 10, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. Damn that’s a pretty city. And welcome to the church! 😛

    Comment by Steve | March 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. simey your shots are beautiful! and your writing is fab, i love your story telling. i am waiting on a post that doesn’t just scream ‘simon!’ in it.. you truly are your own character! midori and lemonade? post whisky? lol

    with all your adventuring, good job you’re nice and fit! lol…… oh dear, just got a tear jerker type feeling. missing u!

    Comment by elladanes | March 13, 2009 | Reply


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