May 2014 Archives

Mon May 26 13:31:54 BST 2014

Easter Weekend Edinburgh Trip

Mirabelka and i visited Edinburgh for about 5 days over the long Easter Weekend. (And i'm only now getting around to writing about it...) My cameraphone pictures are online. (Maybe one day Mirabelka will add the photos she took with her "real" camera to her photo gallery.) It was a really good trip. After hearing horror stories about the weather, it turned out to be beautiful all but one day. This is from the Water of Leith Walkway:

Because we were a bit ahead of the main tourist season (Summer) it wasn't too crowded. We took the train up, all the way from Hove. I'm still a big fan of trains. When you count the commuting costs to and from the airports, it was about the same price as the absolute cheapest flights Easyjet offers. The train trip itself took longer (6 hours) than flying (1.5 hours) would have, but when you add in the commuting times (to or from the airport) and the 'buffer' one needs to add to flying, the difference drops to about 2 hours. On the plus-side, we arrived feeling relatively "normal" (not de- and re-pressurized) and also not groped or irradiated (any more than usual). Plus comfier seats, and we had quite a few more departure times to choose from. And contributed less to global warming, and got to see more of the area between London and Edinburgh. (And now i'm even more interested in seeing Northern England in more detail.)

I was surprised by how beautiful and scenic "central" Edinburgh is. The castle is quite striking when you emerge from the below "ground-level" central train station (Waverly) in downtown Edinburgh. And the numerous parks were green and lovely. There are also several other prominent hills in and around the city that are striking and (weather permitting) offer good vistas. This is the view of Canongate Kirk with Holyrood Park (Salisbury Cliffs and Arthur's Seat) in the background, seen from Calton Hill:

There was ample, yummy, veggie fare, and we ate at Hendersons Bistro more than anywhere else. It was delicious, and they also had the (organic) Black Isle Brewery beer.

It was also interesting seeing the architecture and layout of Edinburgh in comparison with the Southeastern parts of England, and elsewhere i've been. Population-wise, Edinburgh is about a half million people with nearly 800,000 in its "urban zone." Substantially less than London, but 2-3 times larger than Brighton, and (in the city itself) about the same size as Austin.

What really struck me about Edinburgh in comparison with London and Brighton is that many of the buildings in the Georgian-period New Town seemed less "redeveloped" than i expected. I imagine the less-intense population pressures (in comparison with London) mean that Edinburgh has been able to preserve more of what the city was like 200 years ago. For me, many parts of Edinburgh were very pleasant to walk in -- the buildings didn't seem to crowd the pavements ("sidewalks" for you Amerkanski) and streets like they do in London.

We took a couple of day trips. The first was just a quick 40-minute bus ride from central Edinburgh to Pentland Hills Park:

... which was really fun. (The GPS-track coordinates for that image above)

The second day trip was a bust -- the one time the weather intervened. We took the train about 40 km ENE of Edinburgh to North Berwick to then take a bird-watching boat that was scheduled to go out to the Isle of May, but the heavy winds had brought up some big waves, and the captain of the boat cancelled the trip. This is the end of the pier (quay?) in North Berwick, and as far as we got:

(And no, that island you can see is not where we were trying to go. :)

Posted by johan | Permanent link | File under: Traveling