0466 The Irony of Scotland (Great Britain 001â€”new)
Edinburgh Travel Blog› entry 91 of 201 › view all entries
Iâ€™m excited about my quick trip to the UKâ€¦ itâ€™s going to be fun to sing my songs to an English speaking audience for a changeâ€¦ and Iâ€™m eager to take advantage of this bus pass to visit a country that would otherwise be quite expensive to visitâ€¦
The bus driver is a fat and jolly Englishman who at first claims that I canâ€™t get on the bus because my name isnâ€™t on his listâ€¦ finally after a bit of insistence, he lets me aboardâ€¦
But the adventures of the journey have just begun. When we reach
They get into a bit of a tussle and one of the guys takes a swing at the driverâ€¦ a couple of passenger rush out to give him a hand a finally chase the guys offâ€¦
The driver explains that, if they get caught on his bus, then he will have to pay a hefty fineâ€¦
What strikes me as a bit bizarre is that weâ€™re just maybe
The driver explains againâ€¦ See the French actually want these illegal immigrants to make it out of their country-- that way
I can understand the French point of view-- itâ€™d be awfully expensive to try to process all these guys and fly them back to
We make it into the Duty Free Area, only to find that half the Chunnel has been shut down because a cargo train broke down right in the middle.
Iâ€™m confusedâ€¦ I always thought of the Chunnel as one of the Marvels of Modern technologyâ€¦ but to compare this to, say, the quick and very efficient ferry ride from
A road tunnel under a channel to connect two countries? Good idea. A railway only tunnel where you have to wait in line, drive your car onto a train, wait again, drive you car off a train on the other sideâ€¦ bad ideaâ€¦ It takes pretty much the same amount of time as loading and unloading off a ferryâ€¦ and if anything goes wrong, the whole darn system goes into gridlockâ€¦
Hopefully future tunnel planners will take note of thisâ€¦
These delays, however did give me a chance to get to know some of my fellow travellers.
We get to talking about Australian culture. As Iâ€™ve come across so many Australian backpackers, Iâ€™ve started to wonder, could it be that thereâ€™s a sort of â€śreverse peer pressureâ€ť in
If thatâ€™s the case, is it possible that someone travel all around the world and not really have any real adventures-- because heâ€™s just following the same circuit that everybody else follows and does what everybody else does?
Itâ€™s an interesting thought.
So what does being an â€śadventurerâ€ť really mean? To me being an adventurer means following your own inner guide rather than just being a sheep and following everybody elseâ€¦ So I wonder if itâ€™s possible that in
So I have another idea: catch an overnight bus to
The Eurolines ticket office is closed, but a cheerful Scottish bus driver looks at my bus pass and says I can ride his bus, as long as I pronounce it â€śEdinburroâ€ť with a Scottish accent rather than â€ś
So Iâ€™m going to
Thereâ€™s something magical about
Maybe itâ€™s the sense that itâ€™s a land wild and fierce, with itâ€™s endless treeless hills-- and yet so sophisticated and developedâ€¦ Itâ€™s The Frontier-- and yet a land of great philosophers and progressive thinkersâ€¦
Or maybe itâ€™s that sense of ironyâ€¦ The fact that the most freedom loving land in the world is not freeâ€¦ it is under the rule of
Whatever it is, Iâ€™m excited about this visit.
The bus gets off the highway and onto a winding road through the gentle hillsâ€¦ Itâ€™s beautiful, but a bit too much agricultural lined for it to have that stereotypical Scottish lookâ€¦ But an ancient town we past through with its own little castle almost makes up for thatâ€¦
And finally we reach
Itâ€™s cold, windy and looks like it could rain at any moment. But then again, maybe you need the typical Scottish weather to really experience
I head out across a plaza with tall pillar in the center, down towards a dark, waterstained gothic tower that overlooks a little valley park, with the old city and castle on the other side-- and the haunting melody of a bagpipe busker (wearing a kilt, of course) permeates the atmosphereâ€¦
Yes, I am officially inspired by
I head down into the park, quickly take a video clip with the castle as a backdrop.
A bit of a tourist trap, Iâ€™ll admit, but the architecture is so cool that Iâ€™m willing to overlook thatâ€¦ A sort of haunting feel with gray stone buildings and gothic cathedrals, blending right in with the melancholic weather. And around you see little reminders of the centuries of struggle that took place here-- and the Scottish flag flying proudly-- but there are also subtle reminders that this land does, in spite of it all, still belong to
Iâ€™d like to continue exploring, but first Iâ€™ve got to figure out how to book my next ticket. At the bus station I was told that I had to book it online, which I triedâ€¦ then I tried by telephoneâ€¦ I tried by going to a travel agencyâ€¦ then back to the bus station againâ€¦ Iâ€™m getting quite frustrated-- but I refuse to let this put a damper on my Scottish experienceâ€¦
Finally I try the Tourism Office and the guy is very helpful, and after making a couple of calls, finally convinces Eurolines to book me my next ticket over the phone.
Iâ€™ve wasted a good couple of hoursâ€¦ but am quite relieved that I wonâ€™t have to buy another ticketâ€¦
I hike around to the far side of the castle where I get some great shots of a cemetery and later a fountain in the foregroundâ€¦ then on to
My ticket isnâ€™t until tomorrow, so Iâ€™m going to have to stay the night here-- and much to my surprise I find that a hostel here runs only
Feeling much better now, I decide itâ€™s time to stop wandering in circles around the
I pass through some interesting neighbourhoods that still have that Scottish charm to themâ€¦ On past a line of bed and breakfastsâ€¦ until the city gradually starts to fade and take on a more village like feel.
This time Iâ€™m going to take a footpath through the fields, thus giving a bit of the illusion that Iâ€™m wandering across the wilds of
And it soon gets even betterâ€¦ a sign points to the ruins of a castle not far awayâ€¦ I take a detour to go discover my own little castleâ€¦
Itâ€™s a nice little castle-- but with a big fence all around it and a ticket window in front (which is now closed)â€¦ kind of puts a damper on the experienceâ€¦
I continue on north back towards the cityâ€¦
My next target is the plateau park at the east end of town.
I end up wandering a residential neighbourhood looking for a shortcut and it looks like Iâ€™ve found one-- cutting through a luxurious hotel/golf course estateâ€¦
Halfway across, a very elegant kilt wearing fellow approaches me and politely asks what Iâ€™m looking forâ€¦ obviously I donâ€™t look like I fit in here at this golf resortâ€¦ He tells me that no, thereâ€™s no short cut through hereâ€¦ so I have to backtrack to the city to get back to that mountainâ€¦
Just as Iâ€™m getting close, it starts pouring down rainâ€¦ A lot of people come to hike and jog around this hill, and they keep on going without skipping a beatâ€¦
Itâ€™s definitely worth the climbâ€¦ first thereâ€™s the view of the cityâ€¦ then as you continue around, you see the ruins of an old chapel perched on a ledgeâ€¦ Finally I can enjoy some ruins without having to pay for them! Having to pay to explore castle ruins kind of spoils the effectâ€¦
From there, I continue on through a steep treeless valley where for a little with no civilization in sightâ€¦ Here I took my â€śWild Scottish Countrysideâ€ť video clipâ€¦
Finally, I follow rugged footpath to the highest peak, where Iâ€™m joined by a couple of hikers/joggers coming to enjoy the sunsetâ€¦
Evening has set in, but I want to enjoy the
Iâ€™m half tempted to sign up for one of them midnight ghost tours that Edinburgh is famous forâ€¦ but I strongly suspect that you have to kind of believe in ghosts for them to be effectiveâ€¦
So after one last stroll, past a handful of tourists and a few buskers still braving this chilly evening, I decide to call it a dayâ€¦