16 September 2009

Hunting Nessy in Scotland

What a huge weekend. Late last night we got back from a 1200+ mile trip to Scotland... Definitely feeling the effects today.

The few days leading up to the trip were quite stressful. We decided on the weekend of the 11th September as Bridget and Aaron had planned to be busy and weren’t able to spend time with us – but plans changed. Rochelle decided she would stay and spend time with them as she would not be seeing them again for 18+ months. As we had planned and booked the holiday weeks before with friends, we could not both pull out at the last minute – so I did the hard yards and went on our holiday without her.

Thursday evening we left London around 6pm, making the mammoth drive up to Edinburgh. We got in about 1am, found our hotel, then hit the bed.

Friday we woke early to go and get ourselves a good cooked Scottish breakfast. We then headed into town for a free walking tour, starting 9:30am. It was a 3 hour tour so we loaded up the parking meter with enough to last the duration. I might quickly mention here that parking was very expensive. When we got there, we were told the guide was sick, and that there was another tour leaving at 11am. A bit annoyed, but still in high spirits, we decided to take a walk up the Royal Mile and check out Edinburgh Castle. We quickly came to the conclusion that this place is AWESOME! Incredible architecture, really nice people, great food, and such a huge amount of history. It is really authentic and cultural - plenty of tartan, bagpipes, kilts, crazy Scots! We even saw tartan being woven in a kilt factory.

We headed back to the car quickly to feed the meter again. We had a ticket with 2 hours left which we couldn’t ‘extend’, so had to buy a new one to cover us until the end of the tour. Again, expensive! The tour was so good. We learnt a lot about Scottish history – including witch burning, William Wallace (ala Braveheart), plenty of wars with England, and Scotland’s ‘stone of destiny’. We saw some very impressive buildings including the Scot Monument, St Giles Cathedral and The Hub. We also saw the school which inspired the Harry Potter series, the gravestones showing names borrowed for many of the main characters, and the caf√© in which the first books were written. Another interesting place was Greyfriars Kirk, containing the graves of both John Gray and Greyfriars Bobby. We stopped for lunch at the Green Market, where Shaun got a pork roll... from this place... nice!

After the tour we headed back to the car to find a parking fine! Not because we had run out of time, but because we could only stay in the one park for 3 hours, so we should have moved it. GAH! We learnt our lesson - don't drive in Edinburgh. We finished up our day with a visit to the St Giles Cathedral, again, so much history (dating back 900 years). It also has some of the most impressive stained glass in Scotland. Unfortunately no pics – as you had to buy a ‘camera permit’ and we were to cheap to pay the £2.

From Edinburgh we headed up to Inverness. The drive lead us through the Scottish countryside, which reminded me a lot of NZ. Lots of windy roads, green hills, sheep etc. We arrived in Inverness around 8pm - enough time to make a quick trip to the supermarket to grab some food and a few drinks. The evening was fairly uneventful – we were so buggered! Pizza, garlic bread, beer and TV about sum it up.

Saturday morning we went to take a look at Inverness. A nice little town with an impressive castle overlooking the river Ness. We wandered along the rivers edge, checked out the 'castle', and took a stroll down the main street - where there seemed to be a market or something going on. The best part was these enormous owls!

Once we had seen enough, we jumped in the car and drove down the western edge of Loch Ness. A beautiful area of Scotland with nice clear blue water. No, we didn’t spot any monsters. I thought I saw one for just a second - turns out it was a boat. As we headed down we stopped in Fort William, providing a picturesque view of Ben Nevis (the highest mountain in the UK). We were going to do a tour of a whiskey distillery - but they said that nothing was happening, and we could do it if we wanted to see people cleaning the equipment, but that probably wouldn't be a lot of fun. Not a total loss though - outside the distillery in a paddock were some Highland cows. These things are GINOURMOUS with huge horns. They look really intimidating, but are quite friendly! They have awesome hair too!

From Fort William we headed through real Scottish highland territory. Lots of green grass, hills, steep rock faces - beautiful stuff! We also made a quick stop at Doune Castle.

We arrived in Glasgow early evening to find our hotel. It was going to be an interesting night as we had a shared room! And I had no earplugs... But things weren't as bad as expected. The hotel was really nice and the room was plenty big enough for the three of us. One thing I really wanted to do before we left Scotland was to eat some Haggis - so that evening we went out in search of the very Scotish dish. But we had no luck... Ending up eating at a decent looking student bar. After our meal we headed back to our hotel, the plan being to have a couple of drinks then head out to see the Glasgow night-life. But a set of EVIL stairs thought that wasn't such a good idea - there was a tiny 1/4 step at the bottom which I failed to see and I badly sprained my ankle. I hobbled back up to our room, proceeded to have the few drinks and go out anyway. Probably not the best decision as by the time we came home (only an hour or two later) I could no longer walk on it. Early the next morning I got up to use the bathroom, and was in agony! I could not move it at all. I was sure it was broken - so the next morning we headed off to A&E to have it x-rayed. We looked up the nearest hospital on the satnav, which conveniently was just down the road. Hopped in on my one good leg, sat down and explained what had happened. As I was talking I had a feeling that something wasn't quite right. Maybe it was the people looking at me strangely and the jungle book characters painted all over the walls? The woman laughed and asked if I had had my 13th birthday - as we had come to a childrens hospital! Ahhh, yes, that would explain it. Thankfully the other/adult hospital wasn't far. I was impressed with the efficiency! We were in and out within an hour. And good news - no break. I had it strapped up and we were on our way for our final day in Scotland. First on the list - checking out the sites of Glasgow.

Glasgow didn't have quite the same feel as Edinburgh. It was more 'industrial', a city you could mistake for any other. We went for a bit of a drive around (I wasn't up for too much walking), saw George Square, Glasgow City Chambers, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre... Was nice, but I would not rush back.

From Glasgow we headed about 20 miles east to the William Wallace monument. It towers over the surrounding trees, looking very medi-evil. There were two hundred and something stairs inside the monument taking you to the top - a bit much for me so I chilled down the bottom while Shaun and Sarah went up. I was a bit disapointed as I really wanted to see his (William Wallace) sword - all 5 & 1/2 feet of it! But I did get to see this guy telling the history of William Wallace and in particular - the battle of Stirling. Was really good!

Once we had had enough of the monument we headed down into Stirling. We stopped at the pub named 'The William Wallace' for lunch - best pub EVER! Really authentic and amazing food - cheap too. If you are ever in Stirling, go there. We then took a drive past Stirling Castle for a quick look and a couple of pics. By this time it was about 3pm - time to head home.

Just over the border in England we made a random decision to take a small detour to check out "Hadrians Wall". What was ment to be a 5 minute stop off turned out to be an hour long diversion. To be honest, the wall itself was a little disapointing. I think we may have gone to the wrong place to view it. I have read that it is really quite impressive in places, the ruins stretching for 30 miles. We only saw about 30 meters. Although the wall wasn't impressive to see - the history behind it is. It has survived for over 2000 years, built by the Romans to control movement between Scotland and England. It is built right across England from east to west. It was 117km in length, 3.6 metres high and 2.4 metres wide. Pretty impressive for a wall that was built so long ago.

The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. It really is a LONG drive. I think the highlight of the trip home was Sarah falling asleep with her mouth wide open - then later completely denying the fact that she was asleep. Just as well I got pics ;)

1 comment:

  1. Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, which I have been to many times and I never get tired of visiting it. You are right leave the car at the hotel and take the bus into the city centre.

    I have been searching for Neisse for many years and I even took a boat trip out onto the Loch in the Winter of 2007 and the only thing I achieved from it was frostbite.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...