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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Edinburgh

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 11/09/2012 07:56:38
Updated by Joel Dixon at 31/10/2018 03:38:36

I had originally left Scotland out of my Europe trip itinerary. Thankfully a number of my friends insisted that a Haggis Adventure tour forms an essential part of a European adventure so I included a whirlwind visit to Edinburgh in my plan.

I arrived in Edinburgh on the evening before my tour and I immediately regretted not setting aside extra time in Edinburgh - the old town was simply stunning. Walking up The Royal Mile and seeing a castley-looking castle (as opposed to other "castles") jutting out atop of the volcanic Castle Rock is something I wasn't really expecting and was quite amazing.

I was very fortunate to have a friend I met on the hot springs tour in Valencia show me around Edinburgh that first evening (thanks again Nikki). Almost as welcomed as Nikki's impromptu tour was the "Welcome to Scotland" candy gift bag I was given. I liked the Tunnock's Tea Cakes and Caramel Wafers but it was Scotland's own Irn-Bru that most impressed me. It tastes a little bit like Passiona but with more of a kick to it, I certainly had my share of this local beverage while travelling through Scotland. I will either find a local importer of Irn-Bru in Melbourne - or I will be the first back home to import this delicious beverage under the Joel Drinks banner.

Tunnock has his shit together - his tea cakes and caramel wafer biscuits were most delicious

I got an early night to prepare for a three-day Haggis tour around the Isle of Skye. The tour was excellent, and it is clear Haggis Adventures is a quality company. Our guide Scot was perfect for the trip, fun and full of Scottish knowledge (and wearing a kilt on the first day). Unfortunately our bus had two large groups that kept to themselves which limits the number of new and interesting people you can meet. That being said - there was still a fun bunch of people on the tour that I hung around with for most of the time - and I had a great time with them.

The first day of the tour involved driving up to Fort Augustus and the amazing scenery was certainly worthy of the excellent weather we were bestowed. We stopped off at the William Wallace monument which was pretty interesting. I have never seen Braveheart (I know) so it was good to hear the story of the Wallace victory. I found the whole "England invaded again a year later and destroyed the Scottish fighters" part of the story kind of negates the whole "they will never take our freedom" quote - maybe that's just me.

The William Wallace monument - a testament to his heroic achievement, and his appreciation of a old fashioned up-skirting

Other highlights of the first day included incredible scenery, an introduction to the highland cow with their wicked-awesome emo fringes, my first taste of haggis (not bad, but I will not start offering this under the Joel Snacks banner) and a great presentation on what life was like as a member of the clan (very morbid and far too much usage of urine for my liking). Back at the hostel I tried some of the multitudes of single malt whiskeys on offer with some live music in the background - had a late night and prepared for an early morning.

I couldn't get enough of these mini waterfalls meandering down the hills

As part of the presentation of clan life, we were told urine was collected throughout the year - so kilts could be soaked in it and the parasites living within the kilt could be killed. Was that seriously the best solution they could come up with?

Day two of the tour was supposed to be spent on the Isle of Skye - but the horrible weather put an end to that plan. We did drive up to the island, and I got out of the bus to get a photo (and was thoroughly drenched - properly experiencing the weather of Scotland) but that was it. Fortunately the backup plan was a visit to an organic brewery in the area - and I was happier with this option to be honest. After a few samples we made it back to the hostel for some dinner and a trivia night. Our team answered the least questions right (as far as I remember) but thanks to best team name (Scot No Clue), great joke telling and terrible dancing we won the night. Our victory drinks led to a great sing-a-long with some locals and then a lively game of Snip-Snop.

Probably the best photo I stumbled into while in Scotland - I wonder if there is a troll under that bridge (You gotta pay the troll toll to get into this boy's hole)

If you don't want me to drink something - don't put it in a drinking glass! (Apparently they will now be putting up a sign)

Go Planet!

The final day of the tour was mainly designed around driving back to the centre of Edinburgh, but it did involved a couple of cool scenery stops and the all important visit to Loch Ness. We did a haka to try to coax Nessie to shore (why a haka was utilised is beyond me) and surprisingly it did not work. Loch Ness was much larger than I had thought - so I can now easily see how a family of plesiosaurs are living down there eating all of the fish *cough*.

Loch Ness sans-monster. Pretty impressive sign though huh?

After the tour I had another mini tour of Edinburgh, this time seeing the castle by daylight (pretty darn impressive, why doesn't Melbourne get itself a castle?). I also had a great time climbing a massive hill that kind of jumps out at you while you are walking around the city. The view of Edinburgh and it's castle (when you can find it) by night from the top of the hill is quite breathtaking. Turns out the hill was Arthur's Seat, so now I'm going to have to climb the Arthur's Seat in Victoria one day as well

A picture you would expect to see on a fantasy novel's cover - not in the middle of a city

Can't fool me Arthur's Seat - I see you hiding behind that building!

Unfortunately I had a 6:30 am flight planned for the next day, I would have loved to stay in Edinburgh at least one extra day. This is certainly a city that is on the "have to visit again" list. It is also a city on the "pronounced nothing like it is spelt" list.

This is the 15th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012

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