Monday, July 12, 2010

Epic UK Road Trip: Volume 5

We awoke early-ish, planning to spend the entire day in Edinburgh. We had tickets for the 10:30am shuttle into town and our last possible shuttle back to the hostel was 10pm that night. Our plan was to attack Edinburgh full-force - and boy did we ever!

Collin is particularly good at looking at a map and understanding where we are on it. He doesn't even have to stand in it, like Joey does. (from Friends - "London, baby!")  So he led us on our adventure around Edinburgh.

On the way, my friends - who are awesome and know that I love old cemeteries - saw one and suggested we check it out. It turned out to be a really cool cemetery that housed the Scottish-American memorial and the tomb of philosopher David Hume.It was a really neat old cemetery and I loved it.

Scottish-American Veteran Memorial

Next stop, we walked up to the top of a hill and found the National Monument, which was erected to celebrate Scotland getting representation in the British Parliament. From that point we could see into the harbor and most of the city. It was a nice start to the day.

Holyrood Park (including the Palace of Holyrood, Holyrood Abbey, and Holyrood Park)

Near the National Monument - there is a ball at the top of this building that drops every day when the castle fires the "One O'clock Gun" as a visual sign of the time.

The National Monument

We walked down to the Palace of Holyrood (former home of Mary, Queen of Scots; and now where the Queen of England stays when she visits Scotland). We elected not to tour the palace (though it looked neato) because it was like 20 dollars to do so, and we knew we wanted to tour the castle, which also cost money (about 15 dollars for a student). We were bummed to miss the palace, but glad to have something to look forward to on future visits.

The Palace of Holyrood

We wanted to get to the castle in time to hear the "One O'Clock Gun" get fired, but alas, our spontaneous little adventures kept us from that event. Instead, we were walking toward the castle and hungry, so decided to stop at a cute little cafe for lunch. While at the Cafe, Candice noticed that she had a missed call and a voice message on her phone....which turned out to be from American Airlines! They had found Matt's bag!! We were (of course) super excited! Its hard to say who was more excited, Matt or Collin - since Collin had a new camera in Matt's bag and the backpack also included all of Matt's hiking/camping equipment. We spent the rest of the trip saying "Matt! They found your bag!" at random moments.

Our happy faces when we found out that Matt's bag had been located!

After lunch we headed up toward Edinburgh Castle and toured the heck out of that place. It was really interesting to see the city and learn about the history of Scotland. They have done a really good job with the exhibits at the castle! One of the highlights for me was seeing the crown jewels and learning about how they were passed down and then hidden and then rediscovered.


John Knox's house in Edinburgh. Outside, it said, "Love God above all and your neighbor as yourself."

St. Giles Cathedral (we have no pics from inside this beautiful church because you had to pay $$ to take photos and we are cheap except when it comes to buying beer)
Here is a small slideshow from the castle:

As we walked through Edinburgh, one thing that we had wanted to do - but saved till the end of the day - was climb up to "Arthur's Seat." "Arthur's Seat" is the peak of a group of hills that sit behind Holyrood Palace. We knew that from the top we would have a 360 degree of the city, and we had been talking about doing the walk. Ultimately, we decided to do it, so we hiked back down to that side of the city and began our walk up. I thought we could take a little bit longer path that was a little less steep - because one of us had a backpack full of wine bottles and all of us were kind of tired - but it turned out that the path I chose was way long. Way longer than the more direct/steep route, and that because we had not taken the normal route we ended up having to go up a huge flight of stairs cut into the side of the hill.

Despite that, it turned out to be a really great hike. Candice and I kept each other company and had some good conversation while the guys kept up with each other. At the top, the view was beautiful. Though it was about 7-something pm, the sun was still up - though headed toward the horizon and so the lighting was amazing. It was really a great end to our day.

Some of the pictures from atop Arthur's Seat:

After taking in the view, we headed down and to a pub where we squished into a corner and had some great food while watching England play in the World Cup. Later, we headed back to the hostel to get ready for our ferry ride to Ireland the next morning.