United Kingdom
Calton Hill

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85 travelers at this place

  • Day14

    Hello Scotland

    December 27, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 5 °C

    We woke, packed up, found some breakfast and got on the road. Our aim for today was to not touch a single freeway or expressway as we made our way up to Edinburgh, Scotland. We followed the backstreets and country roads, stopping briefly in busy Carlisle. We crossed the border into Scotland, obviously stopping for a photo with the sign, such tourists, and cruised through the green hills to Edinburgh. We found the entrance to our BnB, well after dark, and struggled to get inside, not knowing which actual apartment it was. After a few phone calls we managed to make it in. I went out for supplies and it wasn’t long before were both tucked up in bed. Looking forward to exploring Edinburgh tomorrow.Read more

  • Jun22


    June 22, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    I have arrived safely in Edinburgh via Glasgow. I had a three and a half hour lay over in Iceland. Iceland Air is pretty good for short layovers. The majority of the people left on outward bound flights after an hour. The airport went from being supper busy to ghost like. I nodded off for a few minutes. After two hours it became frantic again. I took the 500 bus in from the airport and I was befriended by an elderly couple who turned out to be a retired Presbyterian minister and his wife from the outer Hebrides. They insisted on helping me find the 900 bus to Edinburgh. God was looking out for me I guess. My Air BnB was only a short walk from the bus station located in New town. The Air BNB is wonderful. It is on a quiet side street . It is a one bedroom apartment with a fully stocked kitchen and a very comfortable bed. I fell asleep at 9 and woke up at 8. I did a self guided walking tour through New town last night also known as the Zombie walk as I was quite tired from the trip.

    Today I did a bicycle tour of part of Edinburgh led by a restaurant owner. I met him at his restaurant the Smoke Shack and we peddled for about 12 miles including making it down to Lith on the North Sea. It was a little light on the history but lots of interesting information about running a small business in Edinburgh. I was the only one on the tour. I had contacted him in advance to see if he would run a tour on Sunday and he had generously agreed to. I think he was bored of running the restaurant. He had run various bars and nightclubs so he had lots of stories to tell. He also ran two air BNB properties in Edinburgh and one in Austria. His restaurant was 1 block from where I was staying so it couldn't be more convenient. After the ride I had a cup of tea with him before he had to dash off to his next business venture.

    In the afternoon I headed off to the national gallery beside Waverly station. It was a small gallery but hit pretty high with some notable pieces. When I visit galleries I try to concentrate on their notable works first and if I have the time and energy I will go back and look at the other paintings. They had a number of renaissance paintings by Botticelli and Raphael. There was a self portrait by Rembrandt. I guess he painted about 150 so what's a gallery without a Rembrandt. Of their impressionist paintings, the most famous was probably Sargent's Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. A very striking portrait. The very knowledgeable and engaging docent explained that the reason it is so striking is that her head is painted with total realism but the rest of the painting is smudged or indistinct.

    I had thought that the gallery would have taken a little longer but it didn't so I headed off to the queen's palace in Edinburgh known as Holyrood palace. It is at the far end of Royal Palace opposite to Edinburgh castle. I was fortunate to have headed off today as the queen herself is showing up tomorrow for the Royal week including the Royal garden party. The queen and members of the Royal family meet important Scottish people at the garden party. The palace was built on the site of a Abbey where Scottish royalty had been living in off and on from the 11 century. The present castle had been built in the 16 and 17 century. There was an excellent audio tour. Notable occupants of the castle included Mary Queen of Scots and for a short period Bonnie Prince Charles. After the tour you were allowed to walk on one path through the garden but you had to stay off the grass. I wondered whether I could see the current Prince Charles off in the garden weeding. Prince Charles prides himself on being a master gardener but has come under criticism as supposedly he doesn't like to get his hands dirty or actually do any of the work . His expertise lies in organising the gardeners. I wanted to ask him how he kept the weeds and grass out of his Thyme walkway. Alas as I wasn't allowed to walk on the grass to go and ask him I will never know.
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  • Jun24

    JK Rowling, Scottish Museum, Royal Mile

    June 24, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 13 °C

    I have had a very two busy days. Monday they were calling for rain. In fact they had severe weather warnings in effect so I thought that I should stay inside. The Royal Scottish museum seemed to fit the bill. It was about a 20 minute walk from my place. It was misting and very foggy. Any views of Edinburgh were totally obscured. The Royal Scottish museum was absolutely huge. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband had helped raise money in 1880 to build the building. Inside it was made of metal with sky light roofing. It was supposed to look like the Crystal Palace in London. I took two guided tours and hardly scratched the surface. I learned all about Scotland dating back to the pre Roman Scoti and Picti tribes, the effect of the Roman occupation on Scotland, the Norse who controlled northwestern Scotland after the Romans left, the Normans, Robert the Bruce, the Stewart dynasty and Mary Queen of Scots and the Jacobites. I have always had troubles keeping track of the English monarchy but it gets even more complicated when they started marrying each other and killing each other. Other curios included Dolly the cloned sheep, Ghanian coffins, Scottish camels and the millennium clock. By about 2 I had to flee the museum as I was just getting everything muddled up. I realized that I was in Blackfriars which is where JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame would hang when she was writing. Also home to Blackfriars Bobby the dog. Some of the character's from HP names are drawn from names on the graves in Kirkyard cemetary. Herriot school a prestigious private school is located beside the cemetery and was the inspiration for Hogwarts. Although I never was that into the series, my kids and one of my close colleagues loved the story so I felt compelled to go. Lots of tours being led by witch-like people wearing black and wearing capes. Elephant Cafe where she wrote some of the books was absolutely packed. I still had some energy left so I thought I would check out the entrance to Edinburgh castle for Tuesday and the Royal Mile which connects Edinburgh castle to Holyrood Palace. The RM especially around the castle was just crawling with people. I learned today when I visited the Edinburgh castle that in August it gets even busier. This time of year there are 6 thousand guests at the castle daily but during the Festival it hits 20000. They told me that there isn't even space to move. After checking out the castle entrance. The RM consisted of kilt shops, tweed shops, whiskey shops, gift shops, Harry Potter shops which seemed to just repeat themselves for th Royal Mile. After walking about half of the mile I had had enough and headed off to my Air BnB to call it a very full day.Read more

  • Day7

    Day 6 Edinburugh, Scotland

    August 6, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌧 17 °C

    Edinburgh, or the Dunedin of the North as some with a very vivid imagination might describe it. We arrived to a really great Scottish summer’s day, well it was raining and about 17 degrees so pretty typical I guess. It got better as the day went (see photos for evidence) and didn’t rain during our entire time ashore.

    We docked in Leigh which is a seaside suburb and were berthed right next to the former royal yacht Britannia (more of that later). We did not have a tour booked so went into the city and walked the Royal Mile which runs between Edinburgh Castle at the top end and Holyrood Palace/the Scottish Parliament at the other with a few side excursions into the small lanes and surrounding streets.

    The Edinburgh fringe festival was well underway and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is about to start it’s run, so the city was packed and really lively. We walked for bloody miles interrupted by a stop at the Castle Arms for a drink and the World’s End pub for lunch (photos attached...). We didn’t go into the castle grounds as it was chaos up there with thousands of people on site. Lots of Harry Potter themed stuff around as it was the place where J K Rowling wrote the first of the novels. Loved the city, it’s extremely picturesque and well laid out.

    After returning to Leith we went and did the tour of the Britannia which is well worthwhile if you’re ever in town. It’s smaller than you might imagine but did play host to most world leaders at some point up until it’s decommissioning in 1997.

    Ship life update - our newly formed trivia team (4 Americans, 2 Canadians and us) finished second on day one of the ship team trivia contest, beaten by a team that got a perfect score. On day 2 we were forth (there are about ten teams) and the same team that won on day 1 got a perfect score again, I’m a little suspicious.....

    The photos show... The Royal Mile, leading up to the castle; the Elephant House cafe above which J K Rowling wrote the first of the Harry Potter books; Victoria terrace overlooking Victoria Street; Edinburgh Castle with me in the foreground; the Tollbooth Tavern on the Royal Mile; the grounds outside the Castle ready for the Tattoo; the World’s End pub with me in the foreground again; the Queen’s bedroom on Britannia; the Royal yacht Britannia; the Castle Arms where we had a drink on the terrace.
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  • Day15

    Slow morning in Edinburgh

    December 28, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ☁️ 9 °C

    Edinburgh, a large but historical Scottish city. I, of course, found the local bakery which also happened to do fantastic coffee as well. I brought back the goods before we set off on foot to explore Edinburgh.
    We were staying reasonably close to the city centre so we wander up Calton Hill to get a great view of the whole city and it’s surrounds. It was quite a steep walk up but we made it. We got a fantastic 360 degree view and we stayed up there for some time. We were discovering more and more that we definitely enjoyed the county side more than city life. The cities just tend to have a bit of grudge to them we don’t really like.
    We’d kind of left any main tourist attractions bit too late for our first day so we decided to grab a late lunch and headed back to the apartment to relax before heading back out at night. I figured out the bus situation which made it much easier to get around the city.

    We found the Edinburgh Christmas markets which were the best we’d seen so far. Of course we couldn’t resist going on the Star Flyer, a spinning chair ride that went high up above the city. What a view of the city lights we got as we were swung around just meters from a monument steeple.
    We explored the markets, ate market food, tasted the local moonshine and sipped mulled wine before calling it a night, but not before one more ride on that Star Flyer.
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  • Day16

    Edinburgh Castle

    December 29, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ 🌬 10 °C

    Day two in Edinburgh started with a cooked up brekky and coffee from the local before we headed out for the day. Our destination was Edinburgh Castle, an old military castle situated high up on cliffs int he middle of the city. It was an awesome sight.
    We grabbed our audio guide and hit the battlements. It was fascinating to learn about the Scottish military involvement in past wars. And also learn about Queen Mary of Scots as an actual real person in history. We explored the castle, tasted some Scotch whiskey at the top. Wasn’t long before that sun was setting, which was stunning from the top of the castle.
    We jumped back on a bus and wandered on down to a restaurant for dinner. We thought we’d go catch a movie at the local cinema before heading home for the night. Keen to explore a bit of the surrounding countryside tomorrow.
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  • Day17

    Castles & Cliffs

    December 30, 2019 in the United Kingdom ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    It was a bit of a drizzly day today. Cloudy and rainy we set of in little blue again. Heading east along the coast of Scotland, our aim for the day was to find cliffs overlooking the ocean and a ruined castle. We found both of these a the site of Tantallon Castle, an old castle situated on the edge of a cliff high above the ocean. It was operating back in the 1500s & 1600s. It would have been a pretty epic castle back in it’s hey day. 5 or 6 stories high literally right on the edge of a cliff. It had defensive walls 4 meters thick and was home to a family known as the Douglases. Over the years it was used by different military groups and went under siege in the mid 1600’s. Today it stands as a ruin you can explore at your own risk of falling down the steep spiral staircase up the towers.

    From the castle we drove back into the local town of North Berwick where we found lunch and tea and scones before heading back to Edinburgh. We were trying to make it back to the Palace of Holyrood, the Queens residence in Edinburgh before it closed. However being almost ht send off the year there was absolutely no parking close by. So we parked a bit away and walked it, only to find out they had closed early for the day. A shame we missed it, but I guess we’ll just have to try do it next time.
    It was our last night in this place so we had a lot of proper packing to do before our flight tomorrow morning. So we headed back tot he apartment to get started. Since having our little car we’d kind of just been throwing stuff in as we travelled from place to place, but now tat we had to jump back on a plane we had to get it all sorted. We packed up, managing to cram everything in without extending our suitcase (winning) and headed out for our final dinner in Edinburgh.

    Next stop, Munich (Just the train station) before catching train to Salzburg, Austria.
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Calton Hill

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