Monday, June 11, 2007

A tour of Scotland's transportation system


You name it, we've traveled on it. Scotland is great, but it really does require a lot of active traveling. Unluckily, we have had a beast of a time figuring out schedules, which buses don't run on schooldays, which buses run only on schooldays, which trains only run in July and August, etc. Luckily, such traveling has enabled us to explore Glasgow and Edinburgh, attend a highland festival at Glamis Castle (one of my favorite experiences of the trip so far), chill out on the Isle of Skye, admire the general splendour at Dunrobin Castle and Gardens (where we also saw a falconry exhibition with owls, hawks, and falcons flying inches above our heads), and see spectacular scenery from the train (we even got to go over that cool curved bridge they show in the Harry Potter movies).

After Yorkshire but before we got to Scotland, we went to Fountains Abbey, a Cistercian abbey that Henry VIII destroyed. It was one of the most awe-inspiring sights I have ever seen. We wandered through the rocks and arches and learned about the lives of the monks. I can't believe anyone could destroy something so beautiful. From there, we went to Robin Hood's Bay, on the Yorkshire coast. It was a charming village built almost vertically into a cliff. We had the best fish and chips ever there and then walked along the seaweed-strewn coast. We also went to Whitby, a few miles north, which was a big resort during the Victorian era. There was lots of beautiful jet jewelry, another ruined abbey, and lots of shoreline-amusement tackiness. We also had some yummy fudge and Andrew got to try real Turkish Delight! We stopped in Durham to tour the cathedral on our way north, then took the train to Northumberland to see Hadrian's Wall. We walked for about ten miles along the wall and communed with the sheepies. We also saw the ruins of a Roman fort there. We had a great time playing archaeologists, trying to read the ruins. From there, we headed to Scotland.

Right now we're in Edinburgh. This morning we had a picnic in the park, toured a Georgian era townhouse, and had a tasty lunch. Now we're going to a fancy chocolate shop for a snack, the Museum of Scotland to sort out who this Bonnie Prince Charlie chap was, and then maybe Arthur's Seat for a nice walk and a view of the city. The sun is shining, we're well-fed, and we're feeling good. Cheers!

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