Train to Edinburgh

This past last last weekend I took a 5 hour train ride to visit the rolling hills  of Scotland.  Scotland was both everything and nothing like I expected it to be.  It’s beauty is truly anchored in its rich history of tyranny, struggle, and defiance.  It really took only a few hours on a bus to realize that the stunning scenery of Scotland was something worth fighting for.

The trip started off with my alarm waking me up at 6am.  I hate it when you feel like you just closed your eyes and then your alarm goes off.  A group of us made our way to King’s Cross Station where we attempted to buy a small bottle of vodka at 7:30 in the morning (yeah, didn’t happen… apparently 8am is the acceptable time to start making your alcohol purchases).  The train ride to Edinburgh (pronounced Edinbraaa) is about 5 hours.  It was essentially my first real “train ride”.  I definitely like trains way more than airplanes.  More space, plusher seats, more amenities, and better sights.  The English countryside is so drastically different then the suburbs of Boston or Los Angeles; the colors, the architecture, the layout.  The sudden display of nature on the train ride reminded me that I had been stuck within the confines of a city for the past month.

Stepping off the rain at Edinburgh I was greeted by a sharp chill and the medieval, Reformation-era architecture.  The best adjectives I can think of to describe the buildings of Edinburgh are sharp, intricate, and cold.  The layout of the city is quite amazing.  All the buildings are situated around the castle and all the streets are stone-paved, with all the stones uneven, loose, damp, and mossy.  Our guide led us on a light walk through the “old town” of Edinburgh on what is called “The Royal Mile”, all the while sharing Edinburgh’s intriguing history.

Old Town, Edinburgh

After the short walk, we took a stroll to the most famous cafe in Edinburgh… The Elephant House.  Most famous for being the cafe of choice for writer J. K. Rowling who apparently had many a cup of tea/coffee at this shop while writing a few books, staring out at her inspiration for Hogwarts; Edinburgh Castle.

The Elephant House, excellent place to write apparently

After this stroll we made our way back to the hostel to get our rooms.  That night I enjoyed a couple drinks, dinner, and a walk back to the hostel in pouring rain.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to take a lengthy bus ride to explore Stirling Castle.  Stirling Castle is perched high on a hill with an amazing vantage of the entire city of Stirling.  It was a really clear day.

Stirling Castle

View from the castle

Looking down the barrel of a cannon

Apparently the castle was a very significant point of defense, guarding the crossing of the River Forth, and survived 8 sieges in its history.

After the castle we huddled back into the bus, took a pit stop to see some important hairy coos (highland cows), and then made our way to Loch Ness.  I’m going to spoil it for you now… no I didn’t see Nessie.  :[  In fact I barely saw a ripple in the water.

Loch Ness

After visiting the Loch we made our way to the city of Inverness where we checked into our hostel and settled in.  We grabbed some Italian and then hit the bar.  We eventually made our way to the prime spot in Inverness, Hootananny’s.  It was a pretty hip place to drink and listen to some traditional Scottish music.  It was a fun night.

The next morning we began our drive back to Edinburgh making a stop at a battlefield and a stream/waterfall.

stream/waterfall

Scotland was an amazing trip.  And hopefully the first of many to come.  Next up: Amsterdam.

*This is my first post in a really long time and I’m going to try to post more frequently because I have left out so much stuff I’ve done simply because I can’t recall everything…

Some notable things:

I’ve had some amazing food.  Namely the cheese, bread, and fresh juice I got from Borough market one day with Emily.  Amazing idea.

Fresh cheese, tomato/basil bread, and apple raspberry juice. NOM NOM

I also got to watch the NBA opener at a really cool sports club/bar.  And in the American tradition got drunk.  And peed on the National Gallery Museum.  Sorry Mom & Dad!  The beer was just too cheap and I really had to go.

Again, sorry about the infrequency of my posts.  I’ll be posting all my pictures within the next few days.

Cheers!

J

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