Saturday, January 10, 2009

“There Can Be Only One . . .”

I’m not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing if you recognize this quote, seeing as it comes from one of the cheesiest (and I mean a whole new level of cheesiness) 80’s action films ever made. Of course I am talking about Highlander. I mention this movie for a few reasons: 1) we went to the Highlands and so of course had to watch it and quote it continually and 2) it actually tied into my Scotland experience as the main character is “Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod” (this will make sense in a later post).

Our trip began in Oxford where all went smoothly—we had a horribly jet-lagged afternoon to see the city center, buy cell phones, and realize that the British do not believe in public trashcans. A few things to know, but also things that aren’t really riveting: we traveled by train through Scotland (mostly in the afternoons arriving to our destinations in the evening), trains are good for viewing the scenery, Brett and Robyn traveled with me (we all get along, it made the trip enjoyable), Joy and her brother joined us for various legs of the trip. Now for the fun stuff. Hogmanay was the giant New Year’s Eve celebration, and it was indeed giant. After trekking to and from our apartment (rented for 2 nights) we enjoyed freezing our behinds off as we stood in a little circle on a crowded street from about 10:30-12:30. All of this didn’t seem so bad after enjoying some amazing fireworks and singing “Auld Lang Syne” and “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” with thousands of people.

We spent the next day at Edinburgh Castle (magnificent), went to an American pizza place for dinner, and checked out the pub scene before retiring to the apartment. The castle is definitely one of Edinburgh’s most defining and breathtaking sites. In the middle of this city—between old and new—is a huge outcropping of rock. On this giant mountain/cliff structure sits the castle. At the base of the castle is the Royal Mile, and on the other side of the castle is a steep drop to a valley (which is where Waverly train station is and maybe some gardens). We took to calling this valley between Princes Street (New town) and the Royal Mile/Castle (Old town) “the big ditch.” Classy, right?

p.s. So as not to create an entirely-too-long post, I am leaving out a lot and will add it in later posts, and I will post town by town . . . but please ask questions if there is something I skip that you want details on!

Until next time, enjoy some pictures--they are at the absolute bottom of the page!

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