Daily Archives: March 18, 2017

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Exploring Edinburgh – Hiking Arthur’s Seat

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Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Exploring Edinburgh – Hiking Arthur’s Seat

Exploring Edinburgh – Hiking Arthur’s Seat, and walking through portraits.

Thursday, 29-Dec-2016

We’d spent a lot of time with the family… so Sarah and I took this chance to split off from the group and do a bit of exploring and hiking on our own. Serious hiking. Or at least as serious as Edinburgh had to offer.

And what was on offer was a hike up Arthur’s Seat – a cliff near the center of the city. From the distance, it looked massive; a huge mountain surrounded by cliffs. The map, however, showed a much different story – a walk barely 3 miles from the apartment.

The best way to rectify this difference was to walk up. So, we did.

We walked in via the Wojtek statue and Holyrood palace, two seriously cool places to see. But this is Edinburgh, so we were a little oversaturated with seriously cool places at this point, and so we went through them pretty quick. The neat details of the hike, however, were definitely memorable…

    • A small ruined abbey for skin conditions – turns out, they knew about skin conditions back around 1150, which was the first record of the abbey. A record detailing repairs, so… who knows how old it actually is?
    • The hiking was really fun, and even had some mini bouldering sections! Sort of… not full bouldering problems, but still enough to keep us busy.
    • Sarah took the pack… awww… I wanted more training weight… but that meant I got to run around and scramble a bit extra, which is always good.
    • The summit is packed with random people, because it’s super pretty! Amazing views of everything, though the intense wind keeps us from staying too long.
    • Take pictures and enjoy said intense wind, before heading down and enjoying some more intense wind! It’s amazingly pretty. Also windy. Intensely windy, in fact.
    • Hike down via another mini-summit, saying hi to some people in a sumo suit and a lemur costume. Because that’s normal, right? You see people in inflatable sumo suits and lemur onesies all the time in Scotland, right?
    • Find a cool ancient well body, which is cool. And by ancient, I mean it was moved there in the tenth century sometime. As in, it had already existed for who knows how long before then.

After our hike, we linked up with the rest of the family for a relaxed lunch of bangers and mash. Or at least, a relaxed lunch at a fancy bangers and mash place. I had beef ribs. Relaxingly. Extremely so, we learned, because while the food was amazing, the service… well, it was super relaxing. Barely any intrusions by the staff at all, in fact.

Then the national portrait gallery!

Again, more awesome galleries and views and things to look at. So many. Ohh my lord I couldn’t even anymore.

  • We saw an amazing portrait competition, where the winner was clearly chosen because of their social connections instead of their talent. Though the rest of the portraits in the gallery were amazing to look at, especially one called “Three oncologists”.
  • I learned about a young king, who looked kind of like a jerk in his painting. Turns out, he wasn’t all that bright in real life, either. In battle (The one the painting was about) he accidentally rode into the enemy lines, trying to find his generals. He then had to be rescued.
  • Scotland has super cool historic rock climbers! Ladies from so long ago that they climbed (technical, vertical rock climbing) in heavy dresses and pettycoats, using hemp rope and fancy boots. Holy… badass!
  • There was a cool library. It had medallion portraits (small ivory carvings), but I enjoyed the feel of the old area, full of many leather bound books.

The rest of the night… meh, it was fun. But nothing too special after the hiking and paintings. We ate at an Italian place that doesn’t hold a candle to Boston’s North End, though it was really nice to have after a whole day of exploring and walking.

Christmas and New Years break, 2016 into 2017: Last Day in Edinburgh

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Last Day in Edinburgh! Natural History Museum of Scotland!

Friday, 30-Dec-2017

Our last day in the seat of Scotland… awww…

We’re not ones to give up easily though. We were packed and out the door of the apartment nice and early, intent on tracking down a good breakfast and some great artwork. Also – historic exhibits. Also… yeah, mostly just those three. Because we were on our way to the Natural History Museum of Scotland!

First, we had breakfast. I ate a full Scottish fry up. It was tasty… yes, even the Haggis. I mean, I wouldn’t order it exclusively, and I don’t think I’ll ever have it again, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected sheep lung to be. But yeah. Breakfast. Then, onward to the museum!

Not as large or as famous (at least in my knowledge) as the London Natural History Museum, this one was actually notably more pleasant, in my opinion. Subtle things, like the design of exhibits and the flow of traffic mean a lot in a museum, and London had missed the mark pretty hard on those – whereas Scotland struck them right on. The exhibits in Scotland weren’t as impressive or rare, to be sure, but they were more enjoyable, and the museum itself was a more pleasant experience.

We all split up to wander our own ways, and I took a circuitous route through a few bits that I thought would be interesting – A robotics exhibit, a whole section on Pacific Island culture, and even taking the elevators all the way up to the top, for a look out over the city from the parapets.

It was a little tough though, by the end, knowing that we only had a few hours to explore. Museum’s like this, they need days. They need you to live in the town, and go visiting on random weekends. A few hours in obviously not enough, but I feel like I’d still have missed out on the cool random rooms even if we’d spent a full day dedicated to the museum. Not a reason to skip it, not at all! But still, a small bit of sadness that I had.