Sunday, April 20, 2003

Edinburgh Day 2

Shower noises from next door woke me up. Who showers at 6am in the morning when they are on vacation!? Luckily breakfast was served at 7:30am, so I would have gotten up in a little bit anyway. I thought breakfast was going to be the usual hotel ordeal - continental, with the usual cold cereal, milk, juice, croissants, etc. Sure enough, these were all there. I sat down at the table next to a man and his daughter (I presume), and began eating my bowl of cereal. The host shows up, ask if I want coffee or tea. "Tea please," I quickly said. Then he proceeded to bring me more than just tea - a full English breakfast was served as well: Bacon, egg, hash brown, sausage, and toast! That certainly caught me by surprise. Also talked with father-daughter pair and found out they were from Australia. Coolio. The man is en-route to a conference in Dublin, and decided to take a vacation while on this side of the world. I think he's a PhD candidate for Information Communication Systems.

After a very filling breakfast, it's time to explore Edinburgh to the fullest. First stop was the Royal Scottish Museum - as Evelyn requested. She wanted a picture of Dolly, the first cloned sheep. Surely there were enough signs pointing to her - all stuffed up and standing in a glass case. There were also a lot of children around, asking their parents why there is a sheep in the glass case. Imagine explaining DNA to kids! Luckily there were exhibits set up to simplify the explanation, thanks to the students at University of Edinburgh. I also saw the Millennium Clock, which consists of some weird looking figurines chiming every hour.

The next stop is Edinburgh Castle, probably the most well-known tourist attraction here. Obviously there were several long queues in front of the ticket offices. After half an hour under the sun, I finally paid a huge amount to enter the castle. It was really amazing, since this castle looks more 'used' than the one in Windsor. You could see the battered towers, cannons placed at strategic locations, and even ruins of previously destroyed structures. The most amazing view was the crown jewels (Evelyn would have loved it), unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures inside.

I could have spent another hour at the castle, but I figured that two hours was quite enough. There are still many sights to see! As I was leaving the castle, I walked into a kilt shop - was very tempted to get one for myself. :P It would have been really cool to wear (with shorts underneath, of course). Or I could have gotten myself a cashmere blanket. However, looking at the state of my backpack I decided against it. It was bursting at the seams with my own clothing, I don't need to break my backpack in the middle of my trip!

What trip to Scotland is complete without some Scotch Whiskey? I went for the big tourist trap, the Scotch Whiskey Experience, since they served plenty of whiskey and I wasn't going to decline them of that. Met two girls on the tour, one of them is studying in Ireland and the other was just visiting. The whiskey experience was nothing but a blur, but I did get plenty to drink. I also bought some whiskey for my own enjoyment. (ended up giving that to my brother since he enjoys drinking more than I do)

The girls I met (Dee and Lynsey) had not been down the Royal Mile yet, so we decided to walk the entire mile ourselves. The Royal Mile stretches from the Edinburgh Castle to the Hollyrood Palace, and it's approximately one mile in length (hence the name). It lines with many shops, and 'kirks' - the Scottish church. There is a heart-shaped rock embedded on the sidewalk, and the locals that walk by all spit on it. Apparently legend has it that if you spit on the heart-shaped rock, you cannot be hung in the square next to it. I did my own share of spitting - hey, it's better to believe it than to be hung. :P

We also walked by the cemetery that Adam Smith was buried, the house of John Knox, and the Childhood Museum. Took us the whole afternoon to walk down the entire Royal Mile, by the end of the day we were exhausted. The girls headed back to their hostel, and I returned to my B&B to freshen up. We met up for dinner later, and we went clubbing that night. It is true when they say that Edinburgh has the highest pub-to-person ratio - there's one around every corner. We settled at The Three Sisters, a very typical British pub/bar/dance club.

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