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Finally! My trip report from London/Edinburgh

Finally! My trip report from London/Edinburgh

Feb 7th, 2002, 12:35 PM
  #1  
Jess
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Finally! My trip report from London/Edinburgh

Hello Fodorites!! I've been back for two weeks since my three-week adventure to England and Scotland. Been meaning to put my trip report up for a while but haven't had one minute to put my thoughts together. I've decided to bypass the thinking process and share my experience.

First of all, I was under a budget, so I didn't stay at any really swanky places. To refresh y'all's memory, I got a ticket to London as my birthday/Christmas present (since they're on the same day!).

My little brother was kind enough to drop me off at the airport and even gave me a hug goodbye (that's HUGE for a teenager to do!). I was a little worried about my flight because I was making a connection in Charlotte, N.C. (USAir) that gave me less than an hour, and every time I called USAir they told me that would be plenty of time. After standing in line at their counter for what seemed like an hour (it was worse than Southwest Airlines during their rush hour), I asked the clerk about the flight and she was just as nervous as I was. So she very quickly put me on an earlier flight that left in less than half an hour, and since I looked so nice and it would be my first flight overseas, she bumped me up to first class for the flight to Charlotte! So, my overseas experience got a little better already.

My flight over was great. I was seated next to an Art Professor and he and I must've been on the same biorhythmic cycle. We slept at the same time, had to use the lavatory (same time), and were generally good natured together.

 
Feb 7th, 2002, 12:36 PM
  #2  
Jess
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Part II:

My friend who lives in Reading picked me up at Gatwick. By the way, I love the fact that carts for suitcases are free! It was pretty cold, more than usual, and had snowed the night before. We drove back to her flat and she toured me around Reading. I saw the prison where Oscar Wilde spent time, went to some shops, and had a nice lunch. After that we played it low key and I repacked to go up to Edinburgh for New Year (since I was only going to be up there for a few days).

My friend's father drove us to Heathrow, and aside from curbside security, I was surprised by the lack of i.d.checking. We got on board the flight to Edinburgh with only having to show our tickets and boarding passes. No further identification was needed.

We landed in Edinburgh on Dec. 30 and man, was it cold!! It wasn't the temperature so much as it was the wind. We stayed at Pembridge Palace Hotel. We got there early (by bus, very friendly driver!) and they let us drop off our luggage, get some complimentary coffee, and we were off to the castle.

We thought that Pembridge Palace would be closer to the central part of Princes Street. Unfortunately we were many, many blocks away. Chilled to the bone, we're walking up Princes Street when we see the Castle on the crag. Set up in the center of town, it was breathtaking.

We quickly looked for the entrance, but all we saw was more crag. We were contemplating storming the castle. Somehow I don't think the sight of a short brunette and her tall english, blonde friend would intimidate them.

We found Royal Mile and passed into a pub for a quick snack before attacking the castle from the actual entrance. That pub was the beginning of my love affair with cider (among other things).

The view from Edinburgh Castle was amazing. And, since my friend and I had joined First Foot Club (for Hogmanay) we got a discount. While in the castle we saw the Scottish crown jewels (not much to look at), and wandered around the souvenir shops. Somehow we wandered past an older woman asking us if we wanted to sample some cream whiskey (tasted like irish cream with MUCH more alcohol content). Let me tell you, it didn't take much to sell us on that, both of us got a lovely bottle to have for New Year.

***Have to get back to work. Stay tuned for my New Year Report. Trust me. You won't want to miss it. It's too weird for words! (I also apologize in advance for the length of the posting, it's been pretty slow at work today!) ***
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 12:50 PM
  #3  
xxx
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I'd love to hear about your New Year's in Edinburgh. Please post more!
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 01:27 PM
  #4  
Mel
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Jess: You're doing great! Keep going. I'm heading back to Edinburgh in a week for my fourth trip there within about 2 years. Scots are addictive--they're so wonderful. When you said you saw the castle and were breathless, I was right there with you--is anything more impressive? The juxtoposition of the old on top of the new...

Waiting, Jess, waiting...
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 02:20 PM
  #5  
Jess
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Okay, back for the 2nd installment!

My friend and I spent a very calm first half of New Years Eve. We walked around some shops, bought some more alcohol (we're whinos), and I got a beautiful silver double-thistle necklace (I'm wearing it now). We also climbed the monument to Sir Walter Scott. That sucker was 287 steps to the top! And the same way up was the same way down (made for some very interesting introductions to some cute men!) The top of the monument is a breathtaking view of the city, only about 15 people can fit at the top (warning to claustrophobics: it gets narrower at the top, VERY NARROW), which became a problem when more people tried to make their way up (very funny moment for those of us already uncomfortably close to each other-it's certainly a way to make some friends fast...)On the way back to the hotel we got some water bottles to empty and fill with alcohol for New years (like I said, WHINOS). Actually, a lot of the festivities were outside and you weren't allowed to bring anything other than plastic bottles to the town square.

So, back at the hotel, we loaded our bottles with Bailey's, bundled up, and headed out around 6:30 to find a bar inside and within the city's barrier. For those of you unfamiliar with Hogmanay, Edinburgh closes the center of town and you can only enter with armbands you send away to get, that way they limit it to 100,000 people.
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 02:21 PM
  #6  
Kiana
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I enjoyed reading your trip report from Edinburgh. We have been living here for the past 2 years, moving from North Carolina because of my husband's job.

I had forgotten how impressive Edinburgh looks to the first time visitor. Reading your note about the castle reminded me of that.

For those coming to Edinburgh, for a lunch or coffee with a great view of the castle go to the cafe on the fourth floor of the Debenham department store on Princes street. Soups are 2.50 punds and coffees about a pound.
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 02:29 PM
  #7  
Jess
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okay, so we get into the blocked-off area of town, bailey's bottles safely stowed in our coat pockets, and we find the ONLY BAR open within the barrier. We get in line and find out that it's a two hour wait to get inside. See as there's nothing else to do (and that it's FREAKIN' FREEZING!!) we decide to stay in line and wait. The only problem with this is that my friend didn't get a chance to eat at the hotel, and we've started in on our Bailey's to keep us warm. So by around 7:30, we're both a bit tipsy.

At around 8:00, one of us gets the brillant idea to go the street vendor that's been set up since we arrived at the bar, and get some food (I'm tellin you, reflexes like a drugged jungle tiger...). So my friend gets some just fried chips. The wind is blowing so hard that in a matter of minutes the chips are already stone cold. But my friend got some sustinance.

After about an hour and a half we're about to go in. One couple exits and the bouncer turns to ask me how many are in my party (keep in mind, it's my SECOND day overseas), and instead of shouting over the crowd, I decide to use my hands...and flipped him off. (you know, two fingers, backwards...you get it). An astonishing look of amazement went across his face and at that moment I realized what I'd done. I very quickly grabbed him and kept saying, "Oh, I'm so sorry, so sorry". That ladies and gentlemen, was my most embarassing moment in Europe. Thankfully, he let us in the bar anyway.
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 02:42 PM
  #8  
Wendy
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Jess very funny report! Sounds like you and your friend are very fun!!
 
Feb 7th, 2002, 02:57 PM
  #9  
Barbara
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Jess, this is a blast! I can just imagine the wind! Doesn't matter how many layers you're wearing, it cuts right through all of them.
 
Feb 8th, 2002, 05:10 AM
  #10  
Jess
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Continuing on with my New Years (by the way, my trip report will get a lot more boring after New Years...)

So, we get into the bar and there isn't one person sober in the whole place. We make a valiant attempt to get to the bar, getting somewhat distracted by men in sombreros, viking "brunhilda" helmets, and a scottish tartan beret with fake red hair protruding out everywhere.

After having been a popsicle we needed warming up. My friend got a brandy and something else and I got a shot of tequila and a rum and coke (hey, I'm a Texas girl, I needed a little taste of home). The whole time people were trying to dance, talk, sing and generally have a good time.

In the bar, we met a group of South Africans who drove from London for Hogmanay. We played movie games (I pretty much won every game...mostly because I knew movies that weren't released in Europe...) and celebrated South African New Year (I think it was a couple of hours before Hogmanay).

At around 11 pm we headed out to the cold to get ourselves in front of the Castle for the fireworks (For those of you who don't know it, the seven hills around Edinbugh explode with fireworks, surrounding the city...an AMAZING sight). There were about 10 people in our group and we followed the man who had the largest plastic bottle of alcohol, and held hands/shoulders to stay together....which worked about as well as herding cats. We stopped along the way to kiss the cheeks of about 10 Indians, hugged complete strangers, and one guy and I stopped and sang, "You've lost that loving feeling" with some chaps from Asia. And then my friend and I rode the rest of the way to our viewing area on the shoulders of some of the guys.....more later
 
Feb 8th, 2002, 05:11 AM
  #11  
Jess
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Continuing on with my New Years (by the way, my trip report will get a lot more boring after New Years...)

So, we get into the bar and there isn't one person sober in the whole place. We make a valiant attempt to get to the bar, getting somewhat distracted by men in sombreros, viking "brunhilda" helmets, and a scottish tartan beret with fake red hair protruding out everywhere.

After having been a popsicle we needed warming up. My friend got a brandy and something else and I got a shot of tequila and a rum and coke (hey, I'm a Texas girl, I needed a little taste of home). The whole time people were trying to dance, talk, sing and generally have a good time.

In the bar, we met a group of South Africans who drove from London for Hogmanay. We played movie games (I pretty much won every game...mostly because I knew movies that weren't released in Europe...) and celebrated South African New Year (I think it was a couple of hours before Hogmanay).

 
Feb 8th, 2002, 05:11 AM
  #12  
Jess
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At around 11 pm we headed out to the cold to get ourselves in front of the Castle for the fireworks (For those of you who don't know it, the seven hills around Edinbugh explode with fireworks, surrounding the city...an AMAZING sight). There were about 10 people in our group and we followed the man who had the largest plastic bottle of alcohol, and held hands/shoulders to stay together....which worked about as well as herding cats. We stopped along the way to kiss the cheeks of about 10 Indians, hugged complete strangers, and one guy and I stopped and sang, "You've lost that loving feeling" with some chaps from Asia. And then my friend and I rode the rest of the way to our viewing area on the shoulders of some of the guys.....more later
 
Feb 8th, 2002, 05:12 AM
  #13  
Jess
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***sorry, computer went a bit wonky...
 
Feb 8th, 2002, 10:33 AM
  #14  
Jess
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When we got on Princes street and right in front of the castle, the whole crowd counted down and right after we all shouted, "one..." the fireworks went off. In front of the castle and all around fireworks were everywhere, bright and beautiful. From our vantage we could only see one other hill with fireworks, but it didn't matter. Everyone was cheering and kissing, and then, very naturally, the mass of hundreds around us all started singing "Aulde Lang Syne". That crowd was the happiest, most non-violent group of drunks I've ever been around. Everyone around was hugging complete strangers and it was all natural. I had the best New Year of my life in Edinburgh. Hands Down.
 
Feb 12th, 2002, 05:55 PM
  #15  
MaryC
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ttt
 
Feb 13th, 2002, 04:23 AM
  #16  
top
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ttt
 
Feb 13th, 2002, 04:34 AM
  #17  
lscott
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wonderful report..have been to Edinburgh and you brought back memories. Re Sir Walter Scott monument: read a book several years ago John Gunther, author that credited Indianapolis' Soldiers and Sailorsmonument as being the 2nd ugliest in the world. Have always wondered what was in first place; found out, in Edinburgh. Actually it suits its surroundings and can't imagine Princes street without the monument.
 
Feb 13th, 2002, 04:41 AM
  #18  
Tony Hughes
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Edinburgh's been bashed a bit here recently Jess, so I'm glad it made a favourable impression on you.
 

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