Sunday, January 18, 2009

We climbed the ENTIRETY of Arthur's Seat. Why? Because we're crazy! Pt. 1

Oh, what a weekend! Edinburgh is a lovely city, I had a fabulous time! 137 pictures and one dormant volcano later, I'm exhausted but its quite possible I've fallen in love with Edinburgh. I'll start off by saying that Edinburgh and what I've seen of Scotland (from the train) is everything that the movies and Epcot depict and more! Very picturesque. Anyway, here's the rundown of the weekend, photos included. Brace yourself for a rather lengthy post.

We started off bright and early Saturday morning, leaving the rail station at 8:24AM. The scenery and the views were outstanding from the train. I saw a TON of sheep and possibly a few shorthorn cattle. And because I'm a sheep nerd, I tried to notice the differences in the way they're raised in the US and the UK. For example, the sheep are either docked rather long or not at all, which I find annoying. Also, they don't have any kind of shelter (that I could see) in their pastures or paddocks, which are fenced in by one of three things: woven wire (not much of them were though), rock fences, or hedgerows. I also got some of the breeds down: Suffolk, Border Leicester (lol), and regular old "Hill Sheep" (brockle faced and horned, for all of my fellow sheep nerds). The most bizarre though, was a black sheep with white legs and face. I have no idea on the breed, but I'll have to find it. My favorite part was when one of our group asked (rather loudly) why the sheep's butts were orange. I, of course, got the lovely task of explaining exactly why that is. I relished the looks of shock on their faces. I tried to take some pictures and videos from the train, but the quality stinks, so I won't bore you with them.
A decent quality one that I nabbed off of my friend's facebook page.  Picturesque, right? 

We arrived in the Edinburgh Waverly rail station and started off in search of our hostel. 
Monitors at the Edinburgh Waverly Rail Station.  Cool picture, I think.

It turned out to be a short walk and just off the Royal Mile (the main drag in Edinburgh). I had never stayed in a hostel, but I'll just state for the record that I LOVE hostels, this one in particular. The atmosphere, the people, the beds, everything was awesome and homey.
High Street Hostel...actually on Blackfriar's Street.  Oh well.

The lobby...lots of neat people from EVERYWHERE.

After we dropped our luggage at the hostel, our group (there were about 20 of us) split up and did our own thing. Cassie and I wound up together (we originally had about 3 more, but we lost them, somehow) and headed straight for Edinburgh Castle. On the way up there, we saw several interesting things-- a bagpiper decked out in kilt and all and the best was a William Wallace actor. He had the face paint and everything, but his favorite thing to do was lift his kilt and show his strategically placed Braveheart tattoo. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of this guy, but he was selling postcards and I regret not buying one :). 

HA!  Another picture stolen from a friend's facebook.  He was awesome!

Once up in the castle, Cassie ran into an Australian girl that she met in Dublin, before she arrived in Preston. Neither had any idea that the other was going to be in Edinburgh, and then they randomly (literally) met at the Castle. Very weird. Aimee is a very neat-- she's spending her summer holiday here in Europe (remember, its summer in Australia), just traveling and hosteling. So we all did the Castle together.

Edinburgh Castle is a strategically placed embattlement on the top of a big hill at the start of the Royal Mile. 
This is the Royal Mile/High Street.  You can just make out the Castle at the top there.

It has seen a large number of wars and has a view of miles around, all the way out to the sea. The Castle has a rich military history, and Cassie, Aimee, and I enjoyed walking through the Scottish Dragoons exhibit AND we got to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. 
We made it!  It's HUGE!

A Royal Scottish Dragoon...I think.

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