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Archive for the ‘Edinburgh’ Category

The Ghosts of Edinburgh

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 25, 2018

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Before going to Edinburgh, I thought about doing a ghost tour. I hadn’t really made up my mind whether to do one or not. I don’t believe in ghosts, but after seeing Edinburgh, I just knew if ghosts were a real thing, this is where they would all hang out. It’s not that Edinburgh looks creepy, it really doesn’t. The city has a historical look and at sunset, there is a dusting of magic. It looks very Hogwarts-like.

Walking up the Royal Mile, I saw many flyers advertising ghost tours. Some were free, some were expensive, a few were on buses. Mark and I wanted to do a free one first. If that was okay, we would do a reasonably paid tour right after. Around noon, we started looking for a tour. We found one that started at 4 o’clock followed by a paid one that started right after that one ended. This was great because both of them started before sunset, giving us enough sunlight for photos. Unfortunately we lost track of time and got to the meeting point half an hour too late.

We tried to find another set of tours that worked out as nicely as the ones we missed. As we were walking around we were handed a flyer for a new ghost themed tour. Since this was its first day, they were doing a special free promotion. It sounded great, but didn’t start until 6 o’clock that evening and the meeting point was down by the train station.

We could have still done the paid tour we had planned on, but we would risk missing the bus. We decided to skip the paid tour, placing all our hopes for a good evening on the bus. After that we could always just walk around looking for another free walking tour even though it would be too dark for our cameras.

Around 5:30 that evening, we walked to the meeting point for our free bus tour. We were greeted by the bus in the photo above. We both gave a sigh of relief; our evening was looking like it would be quite fun. We approach the costumed man with a clip-board in his hand and told him our names. He looked through the names on his board. “Oh,” he said sounding very disappointed. “You’ve booked the other bus, haven’t you? That one has been canceled. They can’t seem to get the bus started.”

The bus was filling up with tourists as it started to rain. We stood there like sad naughty children at Christmas watching all the good kids get their presents. We wondered if we should just buy tickets for this bus, when we overheard another free bus tour guest asking clip-board man a question. “Sorry,” he responded, “this one’s full.”

We walked back to the Royal Mile to where many of the walking tours start. We found a decent looking paid tour that wasn’t too expensive. We asked when the next tour was and was told that it would start in 10 minutes. We met the tour guide, a friendly guy in a ghoulish suit. He talked with us and other tourists. I liked the guy and hoped for a good tour.

The guide was nice, but the tour was boring. We walked around in the rain as the sunset. The rain added to the eerie look of the city, but it did nothing for the tour. Never were the names of Burke or Hare mentioned. These were Edinburgh’s most famous serial killers. Their story told in Greyfriars Cemetery in the misty rain would have been entertaining.

For contrast, there was another tour in Spanish across the cemetery at the same time we were there. Their guide was really getting into her story. I could see a few of the Spanish speaking tourists holding onto one another. Most did not look scared, but they were intently listening to every word the guide said. They were clearly enjoying the show. Even some of the people on my tour were paying more attention to the Spanish tour than our own.

The creepiest part of the whole tour, was the walk back to the meeting spot. At this point, the tour was over, so we were just quietly following the tour guide. We had wandered through Edinburgh’s streets going this way and that, so most of us had no idea where we were. There was some obstruction on the sidewalk and everyone was just standing around waiting for the way to clear. As I waited I looked up at the building next to me.

It was the church of Scientology!

This time in Edinburgh, we did the Ghost Bus Tour; not the free one (I have no idea what ever happened to them). This tour was not scary or creepy. But, it was funny and entertaining. It was worth every penny!


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Edinburgh Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £17.00
    • Free with Historic Scotland membership
  • Adult £3.50
    • 20% discount for Historic Scotland Members

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 17:00

Video

Notes:


Things to look out for:

Map:

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Edinburgh

Posted by Heliocentrism on January 10, 2018

Friday, September 1st – 3rd, 2017

“This is what I thought the whole of England would look like.” – Mark

Paris vs The Whole of Britain

When Mark got to Paris, it dazzled him. All the museums and palaces where shiny and fancy. In fact, most of the buildings in Paris were sparkly. It set the standard of opulence high in Mark’s mind. He expected every city in Europe to go all out with gold plated this and diamond encrusted that.

London failed him spectacularly. In London everything is functional, user friendly, and efficient. Very few things are unnecessarily lavish. Personally, I prefer that, but not Mark.

“I want to be wowed,” he whined. “There is no wow in London. It’s just nice. When can we go back to Paris?”

He’s a ‘Racine”. The French are just harder to please.

Our first day walking up the Royal Mile and down Princes street I heard him say, “This looks like Hogwarts!” He let out a little squeal and took photos for a good 20 minutes. After Edinburgh, I never heard Mark speak of Paris again.

Edinburgh is not fancy. But, it has a fairy-tale like feel to it. It looks like it could be inhabited by ghosts yet, be the setting for A Christmas Carol. (Come to think of it, A Christmas Carol was a story about 3 ghosts…) It’s hauntingly beautiful and the bag-pipers everywhere really set the mood of the city.

What do you think of Scotland?

The interesting part of all this, is that Mark didn’t even want to go to Scotland in the first place. I had to beg, bribe, and threaten to get him there. He wanted to go to Ireland or back to France. “I know nothing about Scotland,” he complained. “I’ve heard of Irish cities and towns. Irish dancing, Irish pubs. Irish coffee. French stuff sounds nice too. But can you name one thing you know about Scotland!”

“Well,” I told him. “My grandmother is from Scotland…”

I wanted to see the land of my ancestors. I have ancestors from all over the world. But, being the descendant of slaves and orphans, it’s hard to tell where most of them came from. But I do know for sure that my mother’s mother came from Scotland. According to my mom, the family came from a town just south of Edinburgh. So, I wanted to do a tour of Scotland.

The Scottish tour would not begin here, but after we returned from Iceland. We would rent a car and see as much of Scotland we could fit in 2 weeks. We would do it properly. And, at the end Mark fell in love with Scotland. Now, I don’t think he can even pronounce the name “Ireland”.

Don’t disturb him, he’s learning about Scotland.


The United Kingdom

How to get there:

You can enter this country by land via an underwater tunnel, air, or sea.

Check with your local UK embassy for visa information.

Phone:

  • Use 112 or 999 for the police, fire department, or to get an ambulance

Website:

Data:

Videos:

Books: 

Notes:

  • If you’re going to do a lot of travel by train or bus, looking for a Rail card or bus pass before you buy your first ticket.
    • Railway Cards
    • Oyster Card
    • Even getting a day pass on a bus could be cheaper than getting 3 single passes, or a return ticket and a single pass.
  • If you’re going to travel around the United Kingdom, you might want to get membership at one of the following:
    •  English Heritage – £54 / year for 1 person
    • National Trust England – £64.80 / year for 1 person
    • Scottish Heritage –  £49 / year for 1 person
      • All of these are a little cheaper when getting a group or family membership.
      • Many come with discounts for other things, like:
        • The Scottish Heritage gives you 20% off at all of their gift shops and cafes.
        • English Heritage gives you free parking at many of their sights.
      • As a bonus, it helps you when planning what to do and see in the country.
  • If you are going to stay in hostels, join Hosteling International, or any of its subsidiaries.
    • YHA – England & Wales
    • SYHA – Scotland
      • Membership at any of these will get you the discounted rate at any of the other hosteling organizations.
      • These hostels tend to be better than most hostels.

Edinburgh Castle

Basic Information

Website

Cost:

  • £17.00
    • Free with Historic Scotland membership
  • Adult £3.50
    • 20% discount for Historic Scotland Members

Hours:

  • 9:30 – 17:00

Video

Notes:


Things to look out for:

Map:

Posted in Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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