Monday, March 06, 2006


Ok, so we went to Scotland this weekend. First of all, I have to say if you ever get the chance to go to Scotland you HAVE TO GO. It is maybe one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen thus far. All I got to was Edinburgh, which is pretty far south, and I hear the north is quite a bit more breathtaking, so I'm gonna try to get up there before it's all said and done. It was, quite simply, amazing. Edinburgh is cool for a couple of reasons, and here they are:

1. The center of the city is pretty incredibly historical and aptly called the Old City. There are a bunch of hostels, including the one we were in, that are all right there in the thick of a ton of historical stuff, which makes the city seem pretty stinkin small, since there is so much right there in like, 2 or 3 streets. The other thing that makes it feel small is the fact that it's kinda built on a hill, and from where all that stuff is, if you look to the east, you see New City, which seems pretty small as well. What you don't see, because it's not below you, is the vastness of the city to the west. I'll get to why I know that in a minute. The final reason it seems small is that the little maps you get from the hostel (or rather, we got from the hostel we were staying at, I don't know about other hostels) are not only pretty bad in general (they just leave out some streets for kicks) but only show a tiny portion of the city, which admittedly is more than you could get to in a weekend but still misleading.

2. Within the center of the city which is so small and historic are a couple of really interesting museums including one entirely devoted to three writers. Let me say that again for those of you in America where nothing like that could ever exist (that's pretty much all of you). There was a museum in Scotland entirely devoted to three writers - that means they actually think literature and the humanities are important! Not only that, but one of the writers, Sir Walter Scott, has a giant memorial elsewhere in the city from which you are supposed to be able to get some of the best views of the city if you go to the top. That's a lot of importance placed on writing. Would that America was smart enough to recognize the importance of literature/humanities. (sigh) Another thing in the center of town is a street called High Street. Most cities in the U.K. have a street with the same name, it's essentially the street where a lot of important things are/were, like shops and offices and such. It's kinda like the Magnificent Mile, or more commonly, main street in most towns. In Edinburgh, though, the High Street is also called The Royal Mile. "Why?" you ask. I'll tell you. It's because at one end of the street you have the Edinburgh Castle, which is huge and incredible and actually built on a cliff, literally, on the freaking cliff, like there's no space between the bottom of the castle and the cliff, the walls actually look like they're coming out of the cliff. It's amazing. Ok, so there's a castle, that makes sense, but why call it the royal MILE then? That's because at the other end of the street, there's the Holyrood Palace, which is still used by the royal family. That's right, two ends of a street, two castles! Are you freaking kidding me? It's incredible. The palace is better to see, though, cause it's still used so when you go inside you get to see how a palace looks when people sometimes use it, whereas the castle has been all changed around and in no way resembles a castle, but rather a bunch of museums. I'm bitter.

3. The final thing I'll tell you about how cool Edinburgh is is the reason I know that there is a huge amount of city to the west. There's this peak called Arthur's Seat that's off to the west of Holyrood Palace - it's actually part of the Holyrood Palace estate, it turns out - that you can go up on. It takes about an hour to climb up to the top, and it's quite a way up. It's probably really not much more than a big hill, compared to real mountains, but it really might as well be a mountain in my book, cause it's got cliffs, which I think is pretty cool. So you climb up this little mountain and you can see that Edinburgh is surrounded by snow-capped mountains! It's absolutely gorgeous. I got some good pictures, but I can't get them off my camera to a place where I can actually use them right now, I'm working on it, but just trust me, it's cool. Probably if you google Arthur's Seat you'll see some pics from up there. When you look to your left (facing the city) you see hills and mountains and more city, all very beautiful. When you look to your right, you see the North Sea, also very beautiful. When you look in front of you, you see the incredibly old city of Edinburgh. And when you're climbing up, you are on a little hill to the side of the actual Arthur's Seat and when you look at it you can actually block out all your peripheral vision and see just hills/mountains - so there you are, in the middle of Edinburgh just seeing cliffs and hills and mountains and lakes. It's truly incredible.

So that's Edinburgh. We also went on a whisky tour and learned the different kinds of whisky and how to differentiate, which was interesting. No, they didn't give us more than one taste, but they did give us a real whisky glass, which is kinda cool. And now we're just trying to finalize plans for going abroad over break. It's coming up quick and we've still got quite a bit of work to do, but I think it'll all come together and it's getting pretty exciting. Ok, that's about all I've got right now. If you want to know anything else, just email me or comment and ask. I might answer, or I might just make you live in ignorance. It'll be a case by case basis. :) Peace, ya'll.

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