Edinburgh

January 11, 2014 at 3:36 pm | Posted in Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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In 2012 I went back to Edinburgh most of it was spent catching up with my parents but we did do some touristy things.

Royal Yacht Britannia – do you like boats or monarchies? If you answer yes to either of those then come and check out the Queen’s former royal yacht. If you don’t have a car getting here from central Edinburgh is a bit tricky but we used one of the bus tours to get there. The Yacht was definitely interesting to walk around and to see how the very, very other half live and travel. There are a number of anecdotes that help to give colour to the literal nuts and bolts of the ship.

Gladstone’s Land – built during the 1600s and located in the centre of the city it gives an idea of the living conditions in Edinburgh throughout the 17th century

Majestic bus tour – as mentioned we used a bus tour to get to and from the Britannia, as well as the logistical benefits it did offer a reasonable way of seeing hearing more about the city but not essential

Some photos on Flickr.

 

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Edinburgh – Overview

October 16, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 2 Comments
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I rather enjoyed Edinburgh. I found it pleasant and quite fun but honestly after a few days I had become restless. If I stayed longer I would investigate day trips while using Edinburgh for the night life, anecdotal evidence suggests it’s pretty good – albeit with a 3am closing time.

One of the features of the city that I found fascinating was the levels. There’s an upper and lower city. From the lower area – presumably for the poorer classes back – you can look up at the bridges connecting the upper city. It’s quite striking.

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There are an assortment of small quirky shops around town that you can stick your head into or a range of gardens to take a brief respite from the city. Besides shopping here are a few other places of interest:

Greyfriar’s Kirk is a historic graveyard to wander around and inspecting the gravestones
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The Police Museum on the Royal Mile is actually a working police station with some  small exhibits on punishment, law and order in the city. From what the officer on duty said the museum is to try and help tourists feel comfortable about reporting problems. It’s quick but nothing like Japan’s.

-Above the Palace and Parliament is the impressive Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat. You don’t need to be fit or even wear particularly good shoes. I made it to one of the main sections but I should have brought a bottle fo water and was a touch dehydrated to venture further up or to some of the other areas. Still worth it and pleasant.
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Parliament was closed on the day I tried to visit. Hopefully it has an information center or guide. Let me know!
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Calton Hill is another good vantage point to look out over this self-styled Athens of the North. It features a half finished version of the Acropolis.
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Overall I found Edinburgh fun and in my short time there I feel like I’ve learnt something about what it means to be Scottish. Not a great deal but something.

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While in Edinburgh I stayed at the Euro Hostel. Dorm style rooms with a common bathroom. The single bed was clean, the bathroom was less so but still ok. A decent place for a short, central and cheap stay in the city.

More photos at Flickr.

Edinburgh – Scott Monument

October 16, 2008 at 7:13 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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As the name suggests this is a monument to the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

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Apparently it is the largest monument to a writer in the world and indeed it is a very high spire.

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For only three pounds you can climb to the top. There’s only one stairwell to come up and down so on a busy day that could get a little tricky to navigate. The stairs, particularly at the top, are quite narrow.  About half way up is a small exhibit talking about the construction and Scott. Once you reach the summit – assuming it’s a clear day – you’ll have an excellent view over the city.

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Even on a cloudy day it’s not bad and certainly it’s good exercise! Just as much fun as the Monument in London.

Edinburgh – National Galleries of Scotland

October 16, 2008 at 6:50 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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This National Gallery is relatively small, positively tiny compared with its big brother in London.

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Unless there’s a specific exhibit or you’re of the artistic persuasion there’s probably not a lot to offer you.

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After a quick 30 minute walk I was done and fairly non plussed.

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Edinburgh also has a few other galleries if you’d like to dip further into the Scottish art world. Entry is free and the gallery is centrally located on Princes Street.

Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House and the Queens Gallery

September 22, 2008 at 8:59 pm | Posted in General, Tourism, Travel, UK | Leave a comment
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The home of the Queen in Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyrood House – does not disappoint. While the area accessible to tourists is more vintage it is still an interesting peak inside the monarchy and Scotland.

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Entry price (£9.80) includes an audio guide – essential given the lack of information boards. The palace is fascinating and takes about 90 minutes including the gardens and ruined abbey.

in the palace you basically go on a loop of the second floor starting in the dining room and ending in Queen Mary’s bedroom (shown to tourists for generations). The Queen’s bedroom is notable for the death of one of her suitors/advisors – Rizzio. The guide even points to the blood stain on the floor!

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Outside the palace you’ll be able to visit the ruined abbey. After the roof collapsed it was left abandoned. Somewhat odd given that the palace is and city is still inhabited. Nonetheless the result is a cool and picturesque and ambient landmark.

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Beyond the Abbey are the gardens but it only take a few minutes to walk around the publicly accessible areas.

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You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Queens Gallery (an extra £5- including audio guide). The gallery has changing exhibits, during my visit it was showing some Italian Renaissance drawings. It was fine – not great – but I blame my lack of artistic knowledge.

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Overall, the palace should be on your list of places to visit in Edinburgh and is quite the contrast to Buckingham Palace.

More photos on Flickr.

Edinburgh – Edinburgh Castle

September 22, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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Edinburgh Castle absolutely dominates the city’s skyline and history. Understandably, it is the city’s biggest tourist atraction and should be on your list to visit.

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As you progress through the castle you’ll learn about the history of the castle through such periods as Robert the Bruce and its modern conservation. Besides the impressive buildings and halls, other areas of interest include the old St Margaret’s Chapel and Mons Meg (a massive gun).

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St Margaret's Chapel

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Mons Meg Canon

 

On a clear day you’ll be able to see far out over the city. Within the castle grounds are other notable sites such as the Scottish War Memorial Museum and the Royal Scots Regimental Museum. Personally, I find it somewhat offensive that the you have to pay for entry into the Castle in order to access the Memorial.

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War Memorial

One of the most important areas is the vault holding the Honours of Scotland (the Scottish crown, sword  and sceptre) as well as the Stone of Destiny. The crown is the oldest surviving crown in Europe. There are many stories as to how they escaped destruction by the Parlemantarians but the end result is that they were sealed in the castle for about 100 years before being re-discovered.

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Entry costs £12 and for an additional £3.50 you can pick up an audio tour (in various languages). If you’re not pressed for time the audio guide is well worth it. I spent about two and a half hours with the audio guide and ducking into all of the smaller museums.

More photos at Flickr.

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Tool who can't read a sign or symbol

Edinburgh – The National Museum of Scotland

September 22, 2008 at 7:36 pm | Posted in General, Out and About, Tourism, Travel, UK | 1 Comment
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The National Museum of Scotland provides a thorough overview of Scotland’s history spaced out of a half dozen floors, culminating with views over the city. The museum charts Scotland’s geographic development and the history of its human inhabitants up to the present day.

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One of my few criticisms of the content is the geological section where the territory of Scotland is seen moving across the world over billions of years. However, the rest of Britain is conspicuously is absent right up to the present period. Conversely, the Welsh Museum had a similar exhibit and it all parts of the landmass were included (at least when they came together). Similarly, I tried to understand when homo sapiens arrived couldn’t find information on this. When asked a guide pointed me to a display on the development of Scottish surnames!

It’s as though the Scottish Museum is trying to to prove uniqueness and independence.

While odd it didn’t detract from the remaining exhibits – although my lack of knowledge means I’m prime material to be misled. Oh well.

The Roman period, particularly the bribing of Scottish Chiefs, was particularly interesting. Most of the museum covers the changing natures of the state, religion, the crown and everyday life. I found the story of the Jacobites and the ever shifting allegiances fascinating. On the other hand I was disappointed by the lack of information about devolution. The section covering it was too brief for a non-Scottish person to appreciate the arguments.

At the end of the museum I feel like I understood more about Scottish history but still feel lacking in my appreciation of Scottish culture.

The museum is located on Chambers Street, Edinburgh. It’s free and worth a visit (put aside about 2 hours).

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More Edinburgh photos at Flickr.

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