Monday, November 23, 2009

Edinburgh!


I had my first stay in a hostel this weekend – it was a really unique experience. It wasn’t a big weekend for tourism in Edinburgh but there were still plenty of interesting folks there. There were a few folks there who had been living in the hostel for a few weeks. They had been bouncing around the UK doing odd jobs. Seems like they were having a good time. There were a few guys from Australia in town for the rugby match against Scotland (one had worked as a winemaker up in Sonoma).

The first day, I did some unorganized sightseeing with Lauren. We walked up and down the Royal Mile, went through the new Scottish Parliament, and went up to a peak that overlooks the main town. The Parliament Building was a really impressive modern style with a lot of interesting lines and colours (ßcheck out the ‘u’), especially inside.

Seats in the gallery shaped like Scotland

Some photos from the Royal Mile (bonus points for getting the reference in the first photo):

From the top of the hill:

On Saturday morning, the UC organized a tour of Edinburgh Castle. It has spectacular 360 views and heaps of history – a very impressive piece of architecture. Afterwards, we all went down to a restaurant for a Thanksgiving lunch with some Scottish folk dancing after the meal. Late afternoon, we watched the Australia vs. Scotland rugby match. For the first time in 27 years, Scotland won (after missing a deciding kick, the Australian kicker might not be let back into the country). Took a night tour of the city with Brooke and Jessica which was pretty hokey, then stayed up late to watch the Big Game.



By Sunday, I still hadn’t taken a full tour of the city during the day, so I hopped on one in the morning. Our guide was a Canadian with a passion for drama and history. It was a ‘free tour’ – the only cost was the tip at the end, which means it’s flexible for any budget. After the tour, I went over to the New Town to check out the more modern side of Edinburgh (only 400 years old).

Some observations: bagpipes don’t sound any better in Scotland; Edinburgh is a beautiful city and a great place to break in a new coat; the Scottish name places in a very intuitive, if boring way.

Now it’s back to work to crank out 6 essays by the end of term!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hadrians Wall and Halloween

I had a great day yesterday! We started out with a day trip to Hadrian's Wall. It was once the northern frontier of England under Roman control. There are some ruins of forts and turrets along its length - a perfect setting for a hike. There were some great views as the weather was some of the best I've had here:

We also came across a foxhunt:
video

That night, we got back and put on our costumes:

Here are some bonus photos of Durham from the last couple days:
To top off the great day, USC lost huge to Oregon and Cal won on a last second field goal.