I have to quickly squeeze in another post before I’m offline for a couple days…
Next stop on my trip: Scotland. Mode of transport: Budget airline EasyJet. Getting to Gatwick airport quite early, I found myself in the check-in line with another Australian (we are EVERYWHERE!). And despite our flight not taking off for another two hours, we were called to jump the long queue (of all the EasyJet flights) and check in. Being the uninformed traveller, I queried information why my boarding pass didn’t list a seat number – how was I meant to know that EasyJet was “free seating” – Something of course the the cynical lady’s facial expression assumed everyone would know. The other thing about Gatwick airport is that gate numbers are also not listed on your boarding pass. Instead travelers left to wait in the common waiting lounge until the gate opens and becomes listed on the notice boards. True to budget airline form, much like Jet Star, the flight was delayed… Delayed for an hour. But what would any sensible traveller do – find the bar. And luckily I had met a drinking friend from the check-in line. Two pints later and we were in the air, bound for the land of kilts and Nessy.
Scotland is a funny place… I still can’t get over the Scottish accent everywhere, and how polite everyone is (which is actually nice). Train announcements all begin with apologies (take note City Rail!) and generally strangers are kind enough to help if you genuinely look lost (me for the duration of this trip). Public transport is relatively cheap here as well. So off on the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. I got into Glasgow Queen Street station at about 7pm which was still relatively bright. As the train went across the countryside, as I had Facebooked earlier, I had a revelation – what was a little Asian doing in Scotland? Say 5 years ago, it was not one of the places I thought I would be touring. I spent the next day taking it easy (a “tourist-break”, if you will) walking around suburban Glasgow and the main shopping strip in the town centre (Buchanan street). Glasgow isn’t a big bustling city.
And that leaves me to today. I spent the day in Edinburgh. 1hr 5mins on the train from Glasgow Queen Street, it’s a fairly cheap train fare, about £12 off peak, which meant that I couldn’t travel during peak hour. I definitely got the authentic Scotland and Northern UK with a whole day of rain. I sat on an open-top double decker bus for a city tour (definitely worth taking to see the highlights quickly) and much like Sydney’s tour, it’s a hop-on, hop-off with one entire sitting going for just under an hour. The city is great, the old Edinburgh contained within the old city walls on one side and the new city the other, littered with monuments and statues of Kings, Queens, royalty and their misc animals.
I finished the tour and ventured up to the Edinburgh castle, home to the scene out of the Military Tattoo. The castle is not far from the main train station and is a short walk up the plateau. It has a panoramic view of the city. On the main strip (the Royal Mile) it began to bucket down, so the logical solution was to find a pub. It ended up being an experience as I looked down the restaurant menu to discover Haggis. I mean, while in Rome (or Edinburgh) I may as well tick this foreign delicacy off the list. It wasn’t too bad at all… Definitely worth trying for any meat eater.
When the rain died down, I continued my trip up to the top to discover a good view of the city. Despite much of the city like the train station and roads leading up to the castle under construction, the view from the top was alright. Much like the day… Not a bad stroll in the rain.
Had I a bit more time, perhaps a stop off at the new Scottish Parliament. On the bus tour it was mentioned the building had won an architecture prize in 2005. And it’s design was quite interesting. Likewise the interactive Earth museum would have been worth a visit. You can experience an earthquake simulation in a lift and touch a glacier. It sits very appropriately in front of a backdrop of the Queen’s garden and a valley (can’t remember what it’s called).
Sorry the post is long and doesn’t have many pics. I thought I should squeeze a story in before I forget it… I’m off to Munich camping tomorrow until Monday and will probably be offline. Oh yeah, it’s Oktoberfest too…!
Stories from Munich to come. In the meantime, be good and Wish me luck!!!