Saturday, March 31, 2007

Edinburgh - II

Welcome to Edinburgh castle...!
As I went through the castle, two things were very apparent to me. Firstly the amount of care these guys have taken to preserve this and make it more 'relatable' from a tourist perspective. So you have boards at all the places that state what this particular place is all about, you have guided tours, you have audio equipment etc. Secondly, the amount of pride the Scott's take in this.
Wish we could inculcate even part of that - and stop giving the crap about being a poor nation. Its more about mindset/attitude

View of the city from the castle - notice the greenery, the lack of tall buildings and north sea in the distance.

At almost all places of interest in Europe (that I have been) you have the option of taking a headset for a small fee which guides you as you go along that site. I never tried that - especially because its expensive. But here its very cold and since we are at a height, the wind is gusting and hence largely to protect myself from the cold I buy that headset - no more the cold air rushes into my ears. It's 3 pounds. Interestingly, the currency notes here are different. They do not have the photo of the queen on it.

As usual, every castle needs guns to protect itself. These are 7 here at base level of the castle, a few more at the top (including a monster of a gun)

This is main structure - housing the church, war memorial, royal residency etc

This is the 1'O clock gun. This gun is shot at 1pm every day and has historically been an indicator to time to local people and ships. Why 1'O clock you ask? Apparently, the Scottish people are stingy so if it was a 12'O clock gun you would need to fire 12 shots every day - which costs a lot more than if you fire 1 shot for 1'O clock. Hmm... I see some similarities between the Scotts and me!

On the right is the governor's residence

This gives a nice view of the castle from one of the taller spots on the castle. What you see immediately in front was a horse stable now converted into a small refreshment center, then you see the 1'O clock gun and to its right (not in the photo) are the seven guns captured in one of the photos above.

Here are the guns, face the city - ready to defend it

This is the oldest part of the castle and as you can see, its undergoing repairs.

A small church. I was told, this is the oldest structure still standing today in Edinburgh!

This is a monster of a gun. It's called 'Mons Meg' and was received as a gift from someone about 600 years back. It's firing range is more than a 2 miles. Look at the canon balls on the left. Phew...

And, somethings you would not find in India - a cemetery for the dogs of the guards.

This is interesting. There's a big story about the honors of the kingdom (Scotland) and how they were lost and re discovered. There's an entire section dedicated to these honors - the Sword, the Sword belt, the Scabbard and the Crown. These are legacy things that kings of Scotland have inherited and have been part of their royal regalia. But they were lost somehow and later on found by the famous poet Walter Scott. The (original) case in which they were found is shown above.

This structure hosts the official Scottish war memorial. Has entries of all Scots who died with date and their regiment etc. No photography allowed inside, but it was serene inside.

Time to head back and route towards the exit. The castle closes at 6pm and the guards literally escort us out.

Final parting shot - Its actually not that big by standards of Indian forts.

See the snow capped peaks in the distance, its that north and yes, its fricking cold

India buildings - though I do not know what this means...

National Library

National museum

Nothing significant of the building except that the lights (in the building together with fading sunlight) created a good color effect.

Notice also, all main structures are made of stone (old and new) - hardly any brick work.

By this time I had completely run out of batteries, the cold weather had taken its toll. But I simply had to take this photo - so i am hectically reversing the batteries, trying different combinations of batteries (i had 4), turning off the LCD display to get this final snap.

This is the head office of the Royal Bank of Scotland - you cannot read the plate but it reads "Incorporated by Royal Charter, AD 1727". Man this is old. Now you get a sense of how deep this place is seeped in history.

Edinburgh - I

It's day 1 of my trip to Scotland and after checking in at my friend's place in Glasgow I head out to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Waverley, the railway/metro station.

First snap outside the railway station. Its fricking cold and I have no idea what all to see in Edinburgh. I was hoping to cover Glasgow today and do Edinburgh tomorrow. But unfortunately, my friend had some work today and so I landed up here.

Luckily, like in most cities I have been to so far, there is a tourist centre just outside the main transport places where you get all info you need. So with a map in my hand I set out to explore Edinburgh...

What I figured out is that most sites in Edinburgh are on a single road, at one end of which is the Scottish Parliament and the palace at the other end is the castle. The road is called the Royal Mile (but it seemed more than a mile to me...!)

The national gallery... art, art and only art - and so 'NO ENTRY' for me!

All old stone buildings. You see I am standing on the side where I came out from the railway station and the road I referred to is on the other side (you can see the cross over bridge on the left).

The church, one of the older ones. Man all things in this part of the world are old... 200-300 years seems like new!

This is the road (the Royal Mile) I was referring to above. What you quickly realize is how narrow the road is and that is is not concrete or tar but stone.

I am at one end of the road. This is the palace in which queen stays whenever she is in Scotland. It's her official residence in Scotland. The palace is known as 'Palace of Holyroodhouse'

Just opposite to the palace is the Scottish parliament. There were rave reviews about this piece of construction but just a couple of days (or maybe a week) before my visit, something fell from the ceiling and all the parliamentarians had to be evacuated! So much for artistic construction, uh?

Another view of the palace.

There is a small hill just next to the palace and the parliament. One can actually climb it and is a good party spot...

Another view of the Scottish parliament.

This is a small museum. Entry was free so I decided to give it a try. The floor was wooden and made a lot of noise when I was walking. For a moment I was got conscious but then I noticed everyone made the same amount of noise when they walked, so it wasn't me alone. The museum was decent, lots of history of the city and how it was setup etc.

This is an interesting museum and certainly not something I had even heard of before. Museum of childhood and it shows how concept of childhood has changed over the years. So for a given age group it will have toys and how they have evolved over the years. Very fascinating indeed.

Scottish war memorial. A small one. The official one and far bigger one is inside the castle.

Next stop - other end of this road and to the castle. But first, lunch time and thankfully I had the company of Pizza hut here also. You see during my entire stay in London I had pretty much a weekend date with Pizza hut (whenever I was in town over weekends that is). Pizza hut was running a scheme where by you had unlimited buffet pizza for just GBP3.99. So I would go late afternoon (around 3) have a huge helping of pizza and that's it. My lunch and dinner was done - all for GBP3.99! (that's under 350 rupees - cheap even by Indian standards).

So I looted pizza hut in Edinburgh also and headed to the castle, which I was told is the most beautiful thing to see in Edinburgh.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


My second day of a weekend visit to Scotland. I was staying with my school, college and CA friend in Glasgow though i spent the first day in Edinburgh.

I come back on Saturday evening, have nice food cooked by my friend and his flatmate and go to bed in a king size bed - my friend graciously gives his room to me and he shared a bed (no pun intended with his flatmate).

I wake up reasonably early (7.30 is early by my standards) and go to the balcony and see this..

My friend tells me Glasgow is a place where you do not normally get snow. In fact this was the first snow of the season.

Look at those trees

This was my first full fledged view of snow fall. My set of emotions were similar to those of a kid when faced with a room full of choclates or Jerry (of Tom & Jerry fame) in a room full of cheese.
The only other view of snow I had was at Rohtang pass in India more than 15years back and in my refrigerator.

What the snow fall meant was that a) we couldn't go out to see anything in the city and b) there was a F1 grandprix in the afternoon, so I could watch it comfortably!

But we needed to cook something so had to go out to the supermarket to get something so we venture out.

Unfortunately, the streets were completely covered with snow and I was wearing my leather shoes. So I was kissing the ground on quite a few occasions.

A father takes time out to build an igloo with his kids - one lucky kid

The snow was about 6-7 inches deep.

Look at how the tree branches (devoid of any leaves due to the winter) are covered with snow. I find this snap especially beautiful.

Cant imagine this emergency car being able to function effectively today!

That's a nice blanket for the car. Dust/stain/scratch proof - guaranteed!

But the business in Glasgow is not done, I have to go back to see the city. In a few years time maybe...