Monday, September 6, 2010

Edinburgh to York

We had a lovely stay in Edinburgh - Scotland is the true motherland, mitochondrially speaking. (Note, Google tells me that Mitochondrially is not a real word.) It was an interesting change though - nine days in the countryside has a way of calming one's soul. So to hit the hustle and bustle of a big capital city again, with the driving and the public transportation etc. was a little bit hectic. But we managed to get by without any problems. Our hotel was great and the restaurants nearby proved to be amazing.

Our first full day in Edinburgh started with a stroll along the Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a long - I'd venture to say Mile - of a street lined with stores. The stores range from kilt shops to souvenir stores to whiskey vendors and all lead up to Edinburgh Castle. We made our way to Edinburgh Castle, which was, by that time, the tenth castle we had seen on the trip. It actually sits on a hill above the whole city and the hill happens to be an ancient lava flow. To ME/US, it was not incredibly noteworthy, but I would imagine that if you took a trip to Edinburgh or Scotland only, it would be a wonderful stop on your journey.

After Edinburgh Castle we hit up the National Museum of Scotland which is AMAZING. First amazing thing: It is completely free. Second amazing thing: If you start in the basement you basically start learning about the history of Scotland from the time before dinosaurs. Third amazing thing: As you make your way upstairs you evolve with the country to modern day. Fourth amazing thing: They've found a way to exhibit things in a completely modern user-friendly sort of way which involves interaction, unique display cases and varied techniques in exhibition, from dioramas to dress up corners to the regular old plaques. I absolutely loved it. If one were to truly soak everything in, it would take far more than one day.

Our next day began with a stop off at the Britannia. The Britannia used to function as Her Majesty the Queen's (Lizzy the Second's) yacht. Since it is no longer in use it is docked in Edinburgh along with the Royal Racing Yacht the Bloodhound. I'd say the most interesting thing about the Britannia is that according to Prince Phillip, other monarchs have built churches, monuments, buildings etc. during their reign, but the Britannia is, or was at the time of it's construction, the only piece of work entirely conceived and built by the current Queen.

Now I have to say, I'd roll in the Britannia any day, but that aside, it was not quite as over the top as you'd expect. Maybe it's because it has not been in use for at least a decade so it seemed a bit outdated. All in all a good stop for the day - as an American, all things royal are sort of mystifying to me.

After the yacht we hopped on our favorite double decker bus (the 22) back downtown and did an afternoon of shopping and photo taking. We had the MOST amazing and lucky weather while we were there.

The next morning we headed on to York. This was about a four or five hour drive with a brief detour at Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall was built by the Roman's under Emperor Hadrian in 122 AD. Apparently scholars like to disagree about why this wall was built, but one prominent belief was that the Romans were not ever able to conquer the people North of the current English border - the Celtics and the Scottish (or as they were known at the time, the Picts). Another belief was that it was made simply to keep the idle minds and hands of the Roman army busy.

We checked into our wee hotel in York and then immediately turned in our rental car. This marked the beginning of the end of our epic Great Britain road trip.

Our time in York was spent, again, shopping, but also checking out York Minster Abbey (Gorgeous)...

York Castle Museum (Interesting), and York Museum Gardens (Lovely!)

With just two nights in York the time seemed to fly by, so it was crazy when we got up early for our train to London and I had to figure out a way to get all of my souvenirs in my already over-packed LITERALLY Kirkland Signature over-sized suitcase. But I did! BOOYAH extra suitcase charge!!

I'm writing this now from our hotel room in London and we have two more nights here. Our hotel room is literally fifty yards from the London Eye and we've already checked out the Tower of London and the British Museum. Fear not friends, I'll give you all the details on London when I get home the day after tomorrow.