Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This blog is no longer Scot-free

First inter-European trip, went to Edinburgh, Scotland for the weekend. Interesting to travel within the UK, technically Scotland and England are separate countries but one nation, whatever that means. The whole system was set up to keep the Scots, who are very proud of their history, happy teaming up with England and Wales. Anyway, on a practical level this means they have their own money in Scotland, but they take English pounds as well, although Scottish pounds can be harder to use some places in England... kinds of sums up the whole situation.

Anyway, Edinburgh is a beautiful city and just a 5.5 hour train ride away from Cambridge. The hilly terrain and coast are great, and there are a ton of beautiful old buildings well preserved. Unfortunately, the weather is just abysmal, and we happened to pick a bad weather weekend. That didn't stop us from climbing up Arthur's seat, the largest hill overlooking the town, supposedly where King Arthur sat once upon a time. It was pouring rain/hailing, freezing cold, and the wind was gusting at over 100 kph on the top. Literally, the most wind I have ever seen and that includes a lifetime in the San Francisco Bay Area. Higher up in the mountain walking was very difficult, Jess was blown completely over by the wind several times. But we made it, you can tell from the photo it was quite a journey. Rest assured, this weather was atypical even for Edinburgh, but not unheard of.

After that we spent more time in town. Edinburgh castle (below) is beautiful and very well preserved, with some great historical exhibits and the crown jewels of Scotland on display. We also saw the National Gallery, a whole slew of monuments overlooking the town, the national cemetery, the cathedral, and factories demonstrating techniques for making Scotch whisky and wool, seemingly the two biggest products. Overall, it was a very nice town with lots to see, although sadly the downtown is extremely touristy.

And of course, a trip to Scotland wouldn't have been complete without having some haggis, which we did manage to order. I ordered the vegetarian haggis, made with lentils and beans instead of internal organs and stomach lining. Honestly I'm not sure how authentic either the veggie haggis or the meat haggis really was, but it was delicious nonetheless.

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