The Land of Scotch

Trip Start May 04, 2011
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69
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Trip End Feb 20, 2014


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What I did
Castle, Yacht, Palace

Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Sunday, July 22, 2012

The taxi left our Paris hotel at 5am for the airport. The last early morning departure of our trip. The airport queues at every point were absurd and with only one person stamping passports, it took a long time to get thru to our gate and just as "final call" was going out. But within only an hour or so of taking off, we were landing in sunny Edinburgh and copped a 20 question grill from the UK passport control. Luckily Mum was on hand to answer all the dumb questions cause I was not in the mood. We bussed into town on the Airport Shuttle (free wifi!) and quickly came to appreciate the crazy road works that is happening in central Edinburgh that the locals are mega frustrated about since the works were meant to be finished years ago and have cut off many streets. Our hotel is right in the main street and a great location, but given the early morning we had to leave our bags and come back later to access our room.

With the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, there is a 48-hr tour ticket available this year that enables u to ride all 5 tour busses in town and discounted entry into 3 attractions – all of which we planned to see. So for 42 pound, this was our tourism in Edinburgh settled in 1 transaction! Our first tour bus gave live commentary (with a very thick Scottish accent!) on the way to Edinburgh Castle. The Castle is built upon a rocky outcrop and quite visible, but a bit smaller than I imagined. Very touristy and lots of people inside the castle walls. You know you’re in a small country town/city when the main attraction has a canon that fires at 1pm every day and masses of people congregate to watch it. I found the rooms of Queen Mary of Scots fascinating and the general history of this place. We also enjoyed being in an English-speaking country for the first time on this trip! And time for me to replace my bad French accent imitation for an equally bad Scottish one.

While Mum walked along the shops of the Royal Mile (street that has Edinburgh Castle at one end and Holyrood Palace at the other), I went on a touristy Scotch Whisky tour. Got some free tastings, manufacturing lesson, and saw the world’s largest scotch collection. Then it was time to check in and for me to get ready for the Madonna concert. Yep, I was off to see Madge do the vogue. Not a huge fan, but figured it was a unique moment to go to a concert in a foreign city. The hotel was fully booked with Madonna goers and I shared a cab down to the stadium with two 40+ yo women wearing outfits from the 'Like a Virgin’ video....this was going to be an interesting night. Don’t worry, I was wearing a $20 hoodie that I’d picked up from H&M an hour beforehand...too cold to wear just my cone bra and lacy gloves. The most random thing happened at the stadium – I bumped into 2 people that I work with in Ghana! An American couple travelling on their break who were also going to the concert and we had no idea! Such a spin out to run into people you know in this circumstance. So we shared a few drinks and it was great to meet up with people I knew than be alone. But we had to part ways as they had seated tickets and I was in standing. Great spot to be actually. Good concert, although cut short because of an 11pm curfew, and hard to believe this woman is in her mid 50’s.

2nd day in Edinburgh was a trip out to Britannia, the Royal Yacht. Decommissioned in 1997, it is moored here as a tourist attraction and interesting to have a look around. Then to Holyrood Palace, which unlike the Castle or Britannia is a working royal household where the Queen comes to stay once a year. I thought it was comparatively run down with degraded furniture, tapestries and carpet. Nice building tho, with the remnants of an Abbey attached that would make for great photos if the sun would come out.
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