New Year's Eve!
Edinburgh Travel Blog› entry 34 of 49 › view all entries
December 31st, 2007 – by: TRE69
While enjoying a lazy morning breakfast with Mar, Carl, and Shane, guess who makes an appearance...Francisco! We all interrogate him about who, what, when and where has he been. Turns out that at the Night Afore Monster Ceilidh, he ran into a bunch of Brazilians and they all ended up at some pub where he got hammered and ended up sleeping at his new found Brazilian friend's place.
Mar and I pondered on what to do today...LAUNDRY! The laundromat was several blocks away from the hostel. So we decided to do that first before wandering around Holyrood Park. Carl and Shane wanted to join us at the park too but they had to do some last minute shopping for their Hogmanay outfits first.
Our merry foursome set out into New Town to find the laundromat. The Scottish laundromat was pretty cool. For an added cost, the laundry lady will remove your clothes from the washing machine and put them in the dryer and bag them when done...all you need to retrieve your clean and dry laundry is to return before the laundromat closes with the ticket stub! We opted to do that instead so we can get more done.
Next, we then sought out to complete Carl and Shane's shopping spree. They wanted to hit up the Royal Mile but from where we were in New Town, it would be quite a long walk so we jumped on the local bus. I can't reiterate it enough...Scottish people are so nice! While we four were on the bus we were debating which stop to get off on. And this nice elderly lady, eavesdropping on our conversation, was so helpful as she gave us complete and exact directions.
At the Royal Mile, while Carl and Shane were hitting up every single tartan shop. I can't remember what they were looking for. But in the meanwhile, I too decided to do some shopping for souvenirs. Carl and Shane could not find what they wanted on the Royal Mile so we walked through one of the closes to get to the Princes Street Gardens.
Around noon, Mar was getting pretty tired of shopping and I was getting hungry and we both were getting bored so we left Carl and Shane on Princes Street so that they could finish their shopping spree. Mar and I walked back up to the Royal Mile/High Street to find something to eat. The Mitre would suffice.
After our well deserved lunch break, we headed eastward from Old Town on High Street which later became Canongate. At the very end of Canongate is Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the British Monarchy when in Scotland. Across the street on Canongate and Horse Wynd is the Scottish Parliament Building.
From Holyrood Palace and the Public Entrance of the Scottish Parliament Building you can clearly see Salisbury Crags, part of Holyrood Park, as it is the backdrop for both locales. We headed in a southerly direction from the Palace and Parliament along Horse Wynd, Holyrood Road, and Queen's Drive to get to the Crags. Close to the roundabout in Queen's Drive are three paths. If facing the Crags, the path on the far right leads to a glen below the Crags. The middle path that veers to the right but with considerably elevation is Radical Road. The path to the far left is Volunteer's Walk that heads up the glen behind the Crags and can then be looped back along the Radical Road.
We chose to walk up Radical Road. The Radical Road walk traverses the steep ridgeline just below the Salisbury Crags. This walk was DEFINITELY NOT easy because it inclines the whole way, and in some sections really steeply, to the Crags. I am not sure what the elevation gain was from street level but I was huffing and puffing the whole way up. This road is definitely not for those who are faint of heart because it is laid at the very edge of the ridgeline and there are no barricades! Fortunately, the road was wide so I image those afraid of heights could stick close to the rock face.
Mar was much more fit and was more than just several paces ahead of me...in fact, sometimes I couldn't even see her. Oh well, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
Where the Radical Road met up with Volunteer's Walk were other trails branching off which looked to lead to the summit of Arthur's Seat. I don't know which trail we took because they were all unmarked. But Mar and I just followed the trail that led upwards. The trail we took was part trail and part makeshift steps made from stones and rocks. The rocks and stones were really slippery from early morning rain and muddied boots of fellow hillwalkers and there were a lot of people out in Holyrood Park today.
The view from Arthur's Seat was even more amazing than from the Crags because the summit is Edinburgh's highest point. I picked the driest looking rock to sit on and enjoyed the view as well as relished in the fact that I was no longer hiking up! The wind was gusting all around us making it even more cold while drying out my contacts. My Irn-Bru 32 was a life saver...a fabulous thirst quencher and the energy boost for the inevitable hike back down.
Instead of taking the Radical Walk all the way back down or even the Volunteer's Walk, we opted to head straight to Queen's Drive which is just a short trail branching from where the Radical Walk meets Volunteer's Walk. As we walked down the street towards Holyrood Palace, it really was amazing to see the magnitude of the Salisbury Crags and the surrounding landscape.
From the Salisbury Crags all the way to New Town we walked! Fortunately we returned to the laundromat just in time to collect our clean and dry clothes. After a quick stop at our hostel to drop off our laundry, we pounded the pavement even more up to the grocery store near St.
I was so tired from the trek around town and the Crags that I knocked out while it was still light outside. When I awoke it was dark probably around 7 or 8pm. I can't remember all the details but when Shane and Carl and Francisco returned to the hostel, they were so excited! After Mar and I left them to finish their shopping, Carl and Shane found the perfect piece to complete their Hogmanay outfits. When they returned in the afternoon to the hostel they convinced Francisco to dress up like a Scottish lad too, so they all went out on another shopping spree!
The excitement for the evening was building.
The 5 of us headed out into the brisk Edinburgh night and made our way to Princes Street. Mar made plans to meet up with her friend Sarah and her Couchsurfing friend Oliver on the Royal Mile before heading to the Hogmanay Street Party. We bid the Carl, Shane, and Francisco an early Happy New Year and walked up Cockburn Street where we met Sarah near the Starbucks. Shortly after meeting Sarah we ran into Oliver. Oliver was off running some errand with another Couchsurfer, Jotikas from Spain, for the Couchsurfing Party near the Royal Mile after the Hogmanay festivities at Princes Street Gardens.
So we headed there to meetup with her boyfriend and other friends who were chillaxing at the cafe's outdoor seating area. The cafe was decorated in sparkly garlands and danceable tunes were spinning however, the place was not packed. I figure most people had already headed to Princes Street for the Hogmanay Party. We all stuck around for a drink to warm ourselves up and get ourselves into the party mood.
My stomach was not agreeing with me from something I ate earlier in the day or with what I just had to drink so I stepped away to the loo. When I returned everyone was laughing hysterically. Mar gave me a recap of the shenanigans that transpired.
As we were getting ready to head out to the street party, Sarah's friend Amber (I think?) was dumping out the contents of her Hogmanay Street Party goodie bag looking for her wristband that let's you into the party. She found her wristband but didn't want the Hogmanay 2008 beanie or pin. She asked if anyone wanted them and since I answered yes and was closest to her, I got the free swag. I kept the beanie and gave Mar the pin so she, too, can have a bit of Hogmanay flair.
When Oliver arrived, we gulped down the last bit of our drinks then headed to Princes Street. After passing through ticket checkers into the Hogmanay Street Party on Princes Street, we had to say goodbye to Sarah and her friends since they were going to the Concert in the Gardens at West Princes Street Gardens and Oliver, Mar, and I were going to the Ceilidh in the Gardens at East Princes Street Gardens.
As we entered East Princes Street Gardens, there was much clapping and laughing going on. So this is a ceilidh...plenty of lads and lasses dressed in their kilts of colorful tartan to represent their clan or just to immerse themselves in the holiday spirit. The music was full of fiddles, flutes, whistles, accordions, guitars, drums, and YES...the bagpipes! From our vantage point, along the barrier wall left of the center stage, many people were dancing...a few with grace and elegance, but many just hooking the arm of their fellow neighbor skipping around in dizzying circles!
The venue for the Celidh in the Gardens area was really quite nice. Adjacent to the "ceilidh dance floor" and stage was a concesssions area complete with vendors selling pints of beer, hot toddies, and hamburgers made from Aberdeen Angus beef as well as several umbrella covered lunch tables.
Back at the ceilidh, Oliver, Mar, and I were "wallflowers" as we didn't know a single step of ceilidh dancing. We chatted away at the corner of the ceilidh dance floor. But when Oliver and Mar transitioned the conversation to Subarus and rice rockets, I focused my attention to the dance floor and watched the ceilidh shenanigans.
Also hanging out in our corner of the dance floor was a cute elderly couple also being "wallflowers". Somehow we got to chatting and it turns out they were from the Sierra Nevadas region of California...small world eh?
The band on stage then started playing some Scottish jig-like music to which Oliver led Mar in a dance which mimicked how other dancers were moving.
We stopped just in time for the countdown...10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! The fireworks illuminated the cold wintery night, the masses started singing Auld Lang Syne, couples kissed their loved ones, strangers greeted their fellow neighbor, and I gleefully hugged Mar and Oliver! I was soon mesmerized by the fireworks exploding in the skies over the Balmoral Hotel and the Castle.
After the fireworks show, we lingered a bit longer at the Ceilidh in the Gardens just long enough for me to grab a late night snack...an Aberdeen Angus burger...and boy did it hit the spot! Fortunately, as we lingered in the gardens, the Princes Street crowds were being dispersed. About an hour later, we 3 bid farewell to the couple from Sierra Nevada and made our way up to Princes Street and from there to the Royal Mile.
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