01 September 2011

scotland--the cities

On Friday 19th August I set off on my quickly planned Scotland trip. I was quite excited. It was a busy time to go. I trained from London to Edinburgh and had to sit on the floor for half the trip. Apparently with the Fringe Festival on and the York races this was the busiest weekend for the train service. And thanks to the Fringe Festival I only found some accomodation to book two days before I went. (I'd found and booked a Scotland tour leaving from Edinburgh before I realised the Fringe was on.) Anyway, first stop was actually Glasgow. I went and spent a night couch surfing with a girl who hates Glasgow. Hmm, tainted my stay there. I didn't really enjoy Glasgow. It's a grungy kind of city and I wasn't sure what to go see and my host was going to show me around and then dragged me around town while she viewed flats and left me to wander by myself while I had to delay my train back to Edinburgh because my stuff was still in her flat and she didn't want to go back there yet. *Grumble*Mutter* That's my Scotland whinge. Thankfully, wonderfully, each new day was better than the previous. I still tried to be polite and make the most of my happily short stay in Glasgow.
They were filming in Glasgow. All hyped up because it's a Brad Pitt film. A zombie one...what's he doing one of those for? Oh, and it's apparently called World War Z. Surely they could have come up with something better. Ha ha. I must admit that Glasgow architecture will make a good backdrop. Just remember, it's not really Philidelphia like the movie will portray.
Saturday was a brilliant sunshiney day and I let myself out for breakfast and went wandering while my host slept in. I went to the People's Palace and winter gardens. The fountain out the front is apparently the tallest terracotta fountain in the world. Or in Europe. Something. The winter gardens weren't as big as I thought they might be and they had it sectioned off so you couldn't even wander around in there. Pfft. The People's Palace had a museum about Glasgow which was quite interesting. During the war days and how the government prepared well, the problems in Glasgow through the years with drinking, housing and crime, how they enjoyed themselves (in ways other than the ones I just mentioned) and daily life style. It's known for it's grunge and violence though it's far better these days. They even had a house/room set up to display what was a common living space for a family. Very compact. I met my host and we trappsed across town. Right across town on foot. In a hurry. I sat in the Botanical Gardens while she viewed a flat. By this time I was wanting to head back to catch a train but remembered my stuff was at her place still. She had another flat to view in a few hours and didn't want to go back yet so I had to settle for a later train. She showed me a couple of buildings and then left me to it. I had a short look in a museum and then wandered slowly back toward her place. Glasgow was all a bit of a wierd experience for me. I managed to get to Edinburgh and my accomodation alright.

Sunday came and I got into Edinburgh city (I was a 40min bus ride away) by about 10:30am. Once I'd walked into the Old Town the smile and joy came back about being in Scotland. The old town has wonderful buildings. The Royal Mile in particular. It's quite fabulous to see. The streets were packed with people for the Fringe Festival. It's a gazillion little events of all sorts of media--music, drama, comedy, performances of various kinds. I wondered around....and around....and around.... I don't think I really knew what I was doing. I was getting annoyed with myself because I was in Edinburgh and I hadn't done anything but wander around. Ha ha ha. Oh dear. I had eaten some food and bought a few souveniers and decided not to go to the castle until tomorrow hoping it would be a little quieter. I did decide however to go to Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park. They looked cool coz I like rocks. :p I climbed up the path so I could get a good view of the city.

I went right along the face you can see in the pic but when it went around the end the path flattened out and I wasn't sure where it went. I just enjoyed the view from there and came back down. I later found out that this is Arthur's Seat and you can climb right up to the top. Oh well. I then wandered around again until it was dark, bought some Maccas and went back to my room.

Monday came and I got my butt in gear and got into town early today. Just after opening I was inside Edinburgh Castle. I went on a free tour, saw the crown jewels of Scotland that are no longer in use (being now a part of the UK) and the Stone of Destiny (used in Scottish coronations) and the room where Mary Queen of Scots apparently gave birth to King James VI of Scotland. Also saw the prisoner section and some live displays of weaponry and history and hung around for the one o'clock gun. Some of the buildings in the castle are still used for present day military business.
In the afternoon I decided to go and see some of the free festival events. I was here and the Fringe was on so I thought I'd embrace it. I went and saw a puppet play that was well done. They'd made their own puppets and I like how they displayed souls and spirits. Clever. It was based on a Russian tale about a soldier who basically cheats death and then is punished by not being allowed to ever die though he grew weak and sickly. It was interesting. I also went and saw a comedy by a group of british guys. They performed an improvised "tv" viewing (flicking between a documentary, a couple of soapies and news) with subject input from the audience. I always find improvisation impressive. Gave me a good laugh too. I was then on my way back toward the bus stop. But on passing through the Royal Mile I scored a last minute ticket to see the Edinburgh Military Tattoo for £10. So I decided to go ahead and see that.

It was more than I thought it was going to be. I was on the side only a few rows from the 'stage'. It was also very impressive. My favourite was the Belgian Bike Band who came in riding pushbikes WHILE playing their instruments. That alone was magnificently impressive but they were also funny with their little skits. The music was great by itself but they were all marching around, some were dancers, some displayed military practises like the gun runners and modern day pirate subdueing. As it got dark they shone lights and pictures on the castle too. See the dragon? :) A fabulously enjoyable day.

It was late by the time I got back to my room and I was up early to pack and make it back into town to meet my tour group. And my Scotland experience just kept getting better.

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