As covid-19 still rampages through our countries, we continue our ‘memories tour’ of trips past. Today, we are embarking on one of our favourite places to visit — Edinburgh, Scotland.
The highlights include the ‘Hairycoo Tour’ (covered in the next post) and climbing the Scott Tower and the Falkirk Wheel.
When we disembarked from the train at the Waverly station, we walked up the ramp to the street level. The view before us was so enthralling; you felt like you were stepping into a Harry Potter book. Many of the buses are double-decker, so we tried our best to sit in the front at the top for the best view to keep the vibe going.
The gothic-style Scott Monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott is second tallest only to the Jose Marti Monument in Havana, Cuba. It is 200.5 feet high with 287 steps and I climbed every one of them!
The Falkirk Wheel, located in the small town of Falkirk in Central Scotland, is a boat lift that connects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It first opened in 2002 replacing the previous flight of 11 locks.
You can’t miss seeing ‘the Kelpies’, 30-metre high horse head sculptures near Falkirk in the ‘Helix’ which is a parkland built to connect 16 communities in the area. The sculptures were designed by Andy Scott and were completed in 2013. The name ‘Kelpies’ comes from the mythological transforming beasts that possessed the strength and endurance of ten horses.
When we venture into new cities, we like to look for three things. One, a free tour (actually, you pay what you think it is worth); two, local music; and three, places mentioned in books I have read.
The first one, I will cover in the next post ‘The Hairycoo Tour’. The second turned out to be a bit of a weird adventure. I have had some experience with Scottish music from my ‘folk song circle’ days and some of the songs I sing are Scottish. I also have a couple of LPs that were recorded in pubs that a Scots friend had given me. So, I was planning to spend some time seeking out pubs to hear Scottish music.
Alas, it was not to be. Several times, we hit ‘open mic’ nights and the chosen music was bluegrass, if you can believe it! Another time, a football (soccer) game was playing in overtime and the music was not going to start until the game had ended. We left around midnight and there was not an end to the game in sight.
We even went to Dunkeld to go to the Taybank Inn which, I had been told by reliable sources, we would hear some authentic Scottish music. Once again, we hit ‘open mic’ night and, you guess it — bluegrass music. To get here, we had to stay in Perth and take a bus from there. Well, there is only one bus back at night and it was at 10pm. So, basically, we had to leave just as the music got started anyway.
Our visit to Perth also provided a lesson in language. We went in search of a laundromat for which we received directions from the desk of the hotel we stayed at. After walking more than 4 km and ending up in an industrial area without a laundromat in sight, we decided to head back and revisit our plan. As it turned out, a laudromat in Scotland is where hotels, etc. ship their laundry to. A ‘laundrette’, however, is where you go to do your bit of laundry.
Now, to our ‘third’ quest — places mentioned in books. First up, from Alexander McCall Smith’s ’44 Scotland Place’, the tunnel mentioned in the book and, you guessed it again, 44 Scotland Place.
Then, from Ian Rankin, author of Inspector Rebus books and a myriad of others, via the ‘Traveling Savage‘, we explored ‘Dean’s Village’.
This, our first trip to Scotland, is one to remember. There is so much to explore in Edinburgh for sure, but also in the towns and villages. After the next post ‘The Hairycoo Tour”, we will head to Glasgow. I am excited just thinking about it.