A friend and I decided to organise a New Year’s Eve getaway to Scotland, and I used the opportunity to get some stuff and redtape out of the way, so you might notice some chunks of time missing. Furthermore relationship with Scotland is complex and bittersweet, so I’m not sure how this post is going to turn up
The first part of our trip was based in Edinburgh. We arrived rather late in the evening so we just got to Waverly Station and walked to the hotel to get some rest before we started off the adventure.
Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, and it is a dark city, but not in a bad way. The dark, moss-covered rock seems designed to absorb any little beam of sunlight and warm the houses. In our first morning we had a walk around Princes Street Garden, where the Scott Monument, a memorial in honour of the writer Sir Walter Scott, stands. There was also a Christmas market standing.
We climbed up Castlehill to visit Edinburgh’s castle, in the Old Town. The castle stands on an extinct volcano and some of the archaeological remains can be traced back to Prehistory! The first castle is thought to have been built around the year 1000 BC, which means the foundations are 3000 years old! The site of the castle includes, among other dependencies, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Regimental Museum, National War Museum, the Royal Palace, St. Margaret’s chapel, and a couple of distilleries. Due to its vantage point, also features a great view of all the Edinburgh area.
We walked back down Castlehill and made a stop at The Tron in the City, a former church turned artisan flea market.
My friend is a Hard Rock Café collector, so we went to the George Street area, which was decorated.
After lunch, we walked to Calton Hill, a hill / park area located near the centre and that hosts the Dugald Steward Monument, the National Monument and the Nelson Monument.
Then we met with a local friend to have dinner (bangers and mash!) to The Elephant House, the so-called birthplace of Harry Potter, where JK Rowling went to write the novels.
On our way back we saw some of the illuminated views, most prominently the Christmas market and the Balmoral hotel.
Aside from all the emotional baggage associated with Scotland, I can say that Glasgow is one of my favourite cities in the world. Most of what we did was walking around even if the weather was nasty at points. As we came out from Queen Street Station, our first visiting spot was George Square and the Glasgow City Chambers, and we had lunch in a Greek restaurant that I love over there.
But we quickly moved over towards Saint Mungo’s Cathedral, also known as the High Kirk of Glasgow. It is a 12th century building built in North Europe Gothic style.
Afterwards we walked up the Necropolis, a Victorian graveyard on a hill behind the cathedral. Today it is a great place for a stroll, aside from a place with way too much history for a humble blog post.
We strolled up and down Buchanan Street and the Central Glasgow area a few times – Queen Street, Central Station, the museum of modern art, the Japanese restaurants… We stopped at the HRC again, the Mandela Monument and dropped by St. Enoch’s shopping centre to see the light reindeer and warm up.
We walked to the Glasgow Cross area then, with the Tolbooth Steeple, the clocktower that marks the entrance to the Merchant City.
We came across quite an amount of interesting buildings in the Merchant City, among them St Andrew’s in the Square.
Another of the places we visited was Glasgow Green, which was half flooded due to the storm.
And when the weather became so bad that the sleet was making impossible to stay out on the streets, we visited the Riverside Museum, the Museum of Transport of Glasgow, where we had some delicious scones too.
We tried to see Dumbarton Castle, but it was closed down due to wind and the storm, so in the end we just took a ride there and walked around.
On the 31st we had dinner at a very nice Japanese – with awesome staff. Then we bought some provisions and headed to the B&B.
At night we were surprised by the fireworks so we ran out of the B&B room to find them.
And on the first we were treated to a rather… unimpressive… first sunrise of the year.
When we flew back I had one of the most surreal experiences ever – we had bought a pack of scones for breakfasts and snacks, and somehow it became tangled in my phone wires. Well, turns out that wired-tangled scones look one hell of a lot like bombs on X Ray machines! The poor Scots security guard was first deadly pale, then so relieved that I was not carrying a bomb!