After a quick stop at platform 9 and 3/4 at Kings Cross station, my train hurtled northwards. With a hiss and roar, I arrived into the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh.
Backpacking to Hogwarts
By a complete coincidence, my planned trip coincided with the fringe festival. This is a month-long festival celebrating a huge mixture of comedy shows, theatre, buskers, and performances. The city visibly expands with the population tripling during this month. It’s a great time to visit as the majority of the shows are freeeeee.
Over the next few days I attended as many shows as I could. Some of my favourites included Coin Operated Girl where a former postitute tells the hilarious story of how she became a sex worker and the odd things her clients requested. Another one was a drama performance called Hag. Puppets and lights are used to tell the story of a daughter coping after her mothers death with a wicked step-family. Brilliant performance. Some of the shows were awful but hey, the fringe is all about experimenting for entertainers too I guess. Another show highlight was the Military Tattoo. This is where Royal Scottish Military bands play the bagpipes and preform the story of Scotland. Each year different countries are invited to participate, and New Zealand was one of the invitees this year. And they did an amazing job! Not that I’m biased of course but when NZ started playing a selection of songs including phantom of the opera and psy gangnam style… And doing the horse dance to the latter song… Well my little heart just about burst with country pride! In comparison the other countries, especially England, were very proper and formal with their matching and music choices. The Tattoo is right next to Edinburgh castle with fireworks and is considered to be the main highlight of the Fringe Festival.
The Military Tattoo
Inbetween laughing my head off at comedy shows, I also did some other touristy things. I started with a free Sandmans Walking Tour. This tour was surprisingly great. The tour guides are interesting and tell funny stories about the city’s history. They do like a tip at the end which I was happy to give. Later that day I also did an underground vaults tour by the same company. This one cost £10 but wasn’t as good. The guide tries really hard with dressing up like a vampire and being very interactive.. But I didn’t enjoy it as much. I also saw the Castle, National Museum of Scotland, Giles Cathedral, Scott Monument, Rosslyn Chapel and Arthur’s Seat. Rosslyn Chapel is quite worth visiting. It was made famous by the Da Vinci Code book but is the most engraved pretty church I have ever seen. Arthur’s seat is also amazing. It is a hill walk near the centre of the city set on an old volcano. I climbed it with a friend (Jin) and enjoyed spectacular views of the city. That was actually my favourite activity out of my Edinburgh visit.
Admiring the view of the city from Arthur’s Seat
A swan lake at the bottom of Arthur’s Seat
After Edinburgh I headed to a smaller town called Stirling. After all the excitement of Edinburgh I did find Stirling a bit of a let-down. There is only a small range of attractions including a castle, but I found myself feeling a little bit bored. It was a good chance to relax after being so busy for the last few days.
The town of Stirling
A Stirling bridge that I quite fancied
After Stirling I headed further north to the town of Inverness, set along side the famous Loch Ness. I started with a Loch coach and boat tour to try and find the monster but only found this scary plastic one:
The Loch Ness lake
It rained quite a bit during my stay so I did exciting indoor activities like going to the cinema to watch Monsters University (very cool movie!) and drinking cups of tea. When the rain did subside, I walked along the River Ness and through the beautiful Ness Islands in the middle of the river – a free activity that everyone should do on an Inverness visit. There were even some crazy men fly-fishing in the river despite the rain. You wouldn’t catch me doing that! I like being warm too much. There was also a castle but I chose to skip it. In the last few weeks I have seen so many castles that I’ve started feeling a bit ‘castled-out’. I actually didn’t even go into Edinburgh castle (gasp!), but oh well, at least it saves money by not paying for attractions that I’m not so in the mood for.
And now you’ll have to wait for the next post to hear about the rest of my Scottish adventures ;)