Friday, 23 September 2011

Another Side of Scotland

Edinburgh. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite cities in the world, and I was very excited to go back. Having already been there in high school, I think I found a different flavor than the rest of the Harlaxton students. I didn’t spend all of my time at the tourist places I’d already seen, so I got to wander the city. My favorite part of Edinburgh is walking, absorbing, and ducking into a pub when everything is too cold and rain-soaked. It was a fantastic weekend.
After the six hour bus ride (and thank God because it’s the only reason I got my homework done…) we arrived in the rain to Prince’s Street and our hotel. My first day was comprised of the Royal Mile, which our hotel was very conveniently located near, and getting appetizers and drinks at a few different pubs. Pictured to the right is the bottom of the Royal Mile, with a view of Parliament and Arthur's Seat.

The next day was adventurous. This hotel included an actual hot breakfast, which was a relief. Afterwards I walked through the National Gallery, which was closed on my last visit. Then we got horribly lost on our way to the Botanical Gardens. It was a fun way to see parts of Edinburgh that tourists never get to see, but we still took a cab back.

The Botanical Gardens were worth the harrowing experience of finding them. I would definitely recommend seeing them, especially on a rare sunny day.

We ended at Grassmarket St, supposedly famous for its hole-in-the-wall shopping. We sadly found more pubs than shops, but still managed to have a good time. The view of the Castle and Royal Mile from the other side was worth the trip on its own.

That night we wandered up and down Rose Street, a wide walkway filled with ethnic restaurants and pubs and shops that is one of my favorite areas in Edinburgh. That night I ate the best pizza I’ve ever had.

The next morning we left early, but the trip was not done at Edinburgh. Some students went independently to save money, but I thought the three side-trips on the way back were worth the money. The first we stopped was the Scotland-England border. After that brief photo opportunity we went to Hadrian’s Wall and the Housesteads’s Fort ruins. Built around the year 122 AD, the Wall was meant to keep the northern tribes out and enforce the area of Rome’s control. This old border is actually about an hour south of the current one.

It seems like everywhere I go there are still traces of Rome.

The last stop was in Durham for lunch. We also walked up the hill to see the famous Cathedral, which was once used as a refuge for fugitives of the law. They were given a little over a month to get their affairs in order before they had to turn themselves in or flee the country.

There wasn’t enough time for us to see the castle, as well. However I did learn an important lesson in this town. “Marinara” in Europe is literal--there is seafood involved. It will be one of those little travel adventures I get to warn fellow students about.

Another hour or two on the bus and we were home. Overall, a full weekend. I can’t believe how much we’re doing! It seems like far longer than a week since I was in Stratford, longer than a few days since Lincoln. It’s a testament to how busy we are and how intense the academics and travel is that time has taken on an alien quality to most of the students here. I can only imagine what it will be to look back on all we've accomplished and seen in December.

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