Volcanic Formation

Just a little quick post here on how exactly Edinburgh (and really all of Scotland) was formed as I found this to be quite interesting…

Millions of years ago the landmass that is today Scotland was actually South of the Equator which made the temperatures and terrain tropical!! Needless to say I would have been a happy camper to have lived on Scotland millions of years ago!  In any event, as the years went on Scotland migrated to its current position and during the Ice Age was struck by several glaciers quite violently that ended up creating the landscape as you see it today with numerous mountains with jagged peaks.  In addition the terrain is also littered with tons of dormant volcanos that died out during the glacier strikes.  The city of Edinburgh is in fact literally sitting on top of a dead volcano… Perhaps the correct term is still “dormant” volcano even though there is absolutely zero activity from the volcano.

It is this unique placement of the city that gives it quite a bit of character… The Edinburgh castle sits at the apex or peak of the volcano and the main street, called the Royal Mile, gently slopes down the volcano (about a mile long) to ground level where the Queen’s Palace is.  The Queen’s Palace or more correctly Holyrood Palace (aka Palace of Holyroodhouse) is the Queen of England’s official residence in Scotland.  Along the Royal Mile from the Castle to Holyrood the street is lined with shops and homes that from the inside perspective only seem 5, 6 or perhaps 7 stories tall.  However, from the valley perspective (i.e. standing on the outside of the city looking at it) the buildings seem 10-15 stories all.  This is due to the sloping of the land down to the valley and the Scots not wasting any space in how they built things!!

The historic city was once surrounded by a wall that now only has a very small remnant left, and the main city or rather historic part of the city only connected to the valley (where the rest of Edinburgh eventually spread out to) through tons of “closes” which ran from the center (the Royal Mile) down to the valley.  “Closes” were so named because they were simply narrow walkways or streets that were “close” together.  And each close was named after the activity that occurred there.  For example the fish Market close was where you would go to buy fish!  Much more on closes later… But for now, at   least you (hopefully) have a base idea on how Edinburgh was formed and a visual of how the city is situated:)  Oh, and Edinburgh has been recognized as the capital of Scotland since at least the 1500s… Just to give a base idea of how old the city is as well:)

On to Military Tattoo/Fringe Festival

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Edinburgh: Inspiration from Afar

I’m quite excited to write about Scotland!!  Primarily because well, since I was a kid, the one place I really wanted to travel to of all the places was Scotland!!  And though I had obviously traveled to other countries first, it was always in my mind to finally make it to Scotland, and now I was:)

I can’t really take all the credit however, because in all honesty it was an encounter I had with two people in late March/early April of this year (2014) while I was working in Key West that really inspired me to get my rear in gear and travel there!  Kevin and Evelyne… From the moment they came to my bar (which by the way I was coincidentally not even supposed to be working that night) it was like meeting kindred spirits!!  They were supposed to be in town for several days but as life takes turns sometimes, they were only able to stay in Key West for one night, and that one night they happened to wander into my place of work and sit at my bar.

The conversations that ensued and the inspiration I took from them after hearing of their adventures around the world and simply just meeting them, well needless to say they inspired me finally do what I’ve always wanted: go to Scotland!  To this day I feel indebted to them for giving me that little kick in the rear and for being the most incredible hosts anyone could ever dream for.  I miss our conversations and hanging out with them quite a bit and can’t wait for the next time we get to come together!!

Ok, enough nostalgia for now… I left London after only two nights and took the train straight to Edinburgh.  It was quite a long trip, but really it wasn’t bad at all…  Watching the scenery change from the busy bustling city to more rural areas to absolutely stunning countryside’s really made the time passing unnoticeable to me.

I ended up arriving in Edinburgh on one of the coldest and wettest days they had had a while!  But the again, Scotland isn’t really known for it’s warm and sunny weather, so really it was a proper introduction to the Country!  Funnily enough (and luckily) however, the rest of my time there really was filled with several warmish and clear sky days!  Very unlike Scotland apparently, but I really wasn’t complaining one bit!!

I was met at the train station by K&E and whisked away to K’s place and shown to my room, fit for a queen!  For the next 2 weeks or so, I stayed in Edinburgh with the company of K&E and honestly could have simply stayed forever (were it not for Scotland winters being so cold!!) and just gotten a job and rented out a flat!!  I loved Edinburgh (my Glasgow friends will hate me for saying so, lol!!) and for sure plan to get back there not only for my friends being there, but for the city itself!

There is obviously quite a lot to say about my time there, so once again I’ve divided it all up into subjects so as not to overwhelm in one post!  Happy reading!!

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Areas Not Covered

Once the tour was over I headed out to see the places not covered by the tour.  Granted there really wasn’t much as we covered quite a bit!!  I was accompanied by another single traveler and together we headed toward the eye o f London.   We walked along the river Thames and viewed the Eye of London from across the street.  It is really MUCH more impressive at night!!  I only had the chance to see it in a nighttime view 4 years ago when I had a 16 hour lay-over in in London and opted to speed walk the city at night instead of just hanging about the airport.  So the pictures of the nighttime shots are from 4 years ago just after new year- not during the current trip of August 2014.

The Eye of London is currently Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel and each passenger capsule (which holds up to 25 people) represents one of the London Boroughs- 35 in total!  From the Eye of London we swung inward toward Piccadilly Circus, one of the best known areas for shopping, shopping and more shopping!!!  It honestly reminds me of Times Square in N.Y.C. since the streets are oddly angled in the center and there is a HUGE TV screen with adverts, etc constantly going.

Anyway, since I’m not a shopping fan I really didn’t have much business there… I just went there so I could see it during the daytime:)  Anyway, at this point it was quite on in the day and both myself and my companion were hungry.  So we set off to Brick Lane, which I had heard from several locals that it was THE PLACE to go for Curry.  Getting there was quite interesting however… We opted to hop an underground train which was no problem at all… However once we got out on to our exit we had a humorous time finding the street!  We walked out of the station and headed aimlessly down the road in the direction that the map “suggested” to go down.  I spotted a street called Brick Street and thought, hey, that must be it!

So down we walked… and walked… and walked… and walked…… The sceneries changed, the scents in the air changed and we thought for sure we HAD to be in the area!!  However, apparently we ended up in a Moroccan area and after several attempts to find someone who spoke English we discovered that Brick STREET was where we were and Brick LANE was where we were supposed to be… So back to the train station we went and lo and behold, had we taken a left out of the station instead of a right, we would have been on the correct street in all of 2 seconds flat!  It really was a good thing I had a patient person walking with me, otherwise the detour could have turned sour!!

Once on the correct path, Brick Lane stretched for what seemed like forever with endless Indian food restaurants on both sides of the “Lane” and each place had a huge banner that hung out front claiming they were voted the BEST Indian food from TripAdvisor in 20XX or the BEST value from TripAdvisor in 20XX and to boot each place also had a man standing in the doorway trying to lure each person in their place!  To be honest it was all just a little overwhelming and though we were hungry trying to choose a place sent my head in a tailspin!  We did eventually settle on a place that seemed to offer the best deal but honestly I wasn’t impressed at all.  The place was fairly packed with people who sounded British so I thought for sure that it should have been a good place.  But then again because we were ordering off the “tourist” menu and not off-roading from their full menu, maybe the quality wasn’t as good… who knows… Anyway Brick Lane to me personally was a bust.  Nothing that special and just over the top with restaurants!!

Once done with lunch it was beer time, so we headed back to the hostel for a little break, then to get a drink!

On to Edinburgh: Inspiration from Afar

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