UK Trip 2011: Scotland

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Pilbeam and I jetted off to Scotland and spent two glorious days in Edinburgh. When we arrived, the sun was out and shining! Which surprised both of us since we expected rain, rain and more rain. We stayed at the Travelodge Shandwick Place; the best thing about our cheap-o, little hotel was literally around the corner was the Edinburgh Castle.

The view around the corner of our hotel!

We did see plenty during our two and a half days in Edinburgh. On our first night, we took the Haunted Ghost Tour hosted by a ‘historical interpreter’ (or as we like to call them… larpers!). The tour was free and started at The Last Drop pub which is located on Grassmarket street. While waiting for the tour, Pilbeam and I ordered up some dessert inside the pub and I had coffee with whisky in it. It was super strong and kind of awesome. Our tour guide took us around different parts of the town, all within short walking distance from The Last Drop and told morbid stories from the town’s history. It was quite entertaining… even if he made up the stories or not! He even picked me to be a part of his first demonstration during the tour in which I had to pretend to be stuck inside an iron maiden.

I wasn’t very good at it, apparently, because he told me that I shouldn’t pursue an acting career.

Edinburgh, Day 1 Edinburgh, Day 1

We spent the morning at Edinburgh Castle on our second day and then at one of the National Galleries after we were done pretending to be princesesses. At the art museum, we got to view Rembrandt and Da Vinci paintings in person. For two girls who were immersed in art for many years, it was pretty awe-inspiring. On the third day, we went to Hollyrood Palace, the Queen’s summer home. Since it was Spring and royalty was currently absent from there, we were able to view the rooms that they usually inhabit. I thought it was kind of strange to be  trumping around someone’s residence and treating it like a museum, Pilbeam assured me it was a very ‘English thing’ to do. They did preserve Queen Mary of Scots’ private quarters in one of the towers and showcased many of her old private items- which included locks of her hair. One day, it may be possible to clone her.

On the way to Hollyrood, we ran into the Museum of Childhood inside a toy store. The museum was three story high and showcased all kinds of vintage children toys and items. It was quite a neat find and I recommend it to people who are fond of toys.

We had afternoon tea after Hollyrood and then made our way to the National Museum of Scotland. Not to be confused with the National art galleries, of course, this museum explores the history of Scotland as a country. Unfortunately, we only saw a small section of the museum as we went in on the last opening hour. There were so much to see because they showcased every, single piece of tiny rock they managed to excavate. It was quite fascinating though and they even had some of the Lewis Chessmen on display.

We topped off the afternoon with a visit to The Elephant House, a trendy café across the street from the museum. The cafe credits itself as the “birthplace” of Harry Potter. Supposedly, it is where J.K. Rowling began writing her books and she returned to write again after her books’ success. They have framed photos of her sitting by herself and writing. They even decorated a stall in the girl’s bathroom with photos from the Harry Potter movies. Imagine sitting on a toilet seat that was covered with every single actor from the film! Fans have taken it upon themselves to graffiti the walls of the stall with letters directed to Rowling or quotations from the book.

Otherwise, they did have delicious hot chocolate, so I recommend them for an afternoon stop!

Listen to our podcast episode 8 to hear Nancy and I discuss more of Scotland and my visit in England!

Edinburgh Castle, Day 2

At the Edinburgh Castle... dang balls were heavy.

Edinburgh Castle, Day 2
Edinburgh Castle, Day 2

Notes written the day Hitler died.

Hollyrood Palace, the Queen's Summer Home

Hollyrood Palace

Afternoon tea at Edinburgh
The Elephant House

Nancy channels her inner J.K. Rowling at the Elephant House

Click here to check out the rest of my photos from Scotland, or watch the slideshow below!

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