Scotland in January

Jan 10, 2010
Kicking off the New Year with a one-month holiday obviously could only mean one thing- travelling! The plan was something along these lines: Scotland, Copenhagen, Germany (Eastern part) and finally Prague to get a taste of the romantic, wintry Czech capital! 

Now, let's start with Scotland. I didn’t have much planned for it except visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow and doing a little trip to the Highland. Surely we had some degustation of local whiskey on the initerary, too! But all in all it was more like one of those I’ll see once I’m there -things. Here we go… 

Traditional sounds...

After a late arrival at the Castel Rock Backpacker Hostel, I went around the area. Location could’ve not been better, as I was literally in the center of the old town just a minute away from the Edinburgh castle and the Grass Market (pub district). In the morning I planned to get on with Edinburgh’s sights, but before that I headed over to Holyrood Park to climb up the Arthur Seat (251m). The park is a great place for outdoors and you can already feel like being on the Highland mountains, only as little as 15 min away from the Royal Mile (the town center). As for me, the weather was definitely a typical Scottish one: windy, chilly and rainy

Afterwards I strolled around the old town visiting few interesting and free museums including one creepy graveyard. Edinburgh can actually become a very spooky place on a foggy night, especially over the winter months. Hence, no wonder the mystical feeling in Harry Potter series was first adopted right here in Edinburgh, by the JK Rowling. Early evening I got to one of the local restaurant where you can eat the Scottish national meal: the infamous Haggis! It’s type of a pudding containing sheep's heart, liver and lungs, combined usually with onion, oatmeal and spices. It definitely tastes better than it sounds… 

After this hearty meal I finished my evening in the Bow bar with local whisky tasting- you can taste more than hundred different types of whiskey. I was the only tourist there, but the bar tender took the time to explain me how the whisky is produced and further told me about all the regional differences in flavours. Also, the prices can be quite volatile ranging from the cheaper end whiskeys at around and going all the way to 100£ and above! For me, three whiskies later it was time to call it a night. 

The next day it was time to pay a visit to the new town with its classy boulevards, Georgian houses and luxury boutiques. Afterwards I headed towards the Castle Rock and the famous Edinburgh Castle, and spent a few hours going through its museum and all the history within. Worth to mention the views down to the city and over to the Holyrood Park were just such a nice addition. Originally I had planned to go directly to Glasgow after Edinburgh, but everyone I met at the hostel advised me rather go and spend some time on the Highlands. It was nice to go through national parks of Northern Scotland and admire the different glens (valley) and lochs (lake). Talking about lochs, we ended our trip to the most famous one of them- the Loch Ness. According to the urban legend, Nessie the monster lives deep beneath the surface… Surely we had to get on a monster hunt cruise on the lake, where the local guide tried to convince us that the legend was indeed a real deal! 

Few hours later we were back in Edinburgh, where I caught a train to Glasgow-the grand city of Scotland. Due to the small number of worthy sights, I would probably not recommend to spend more than a day or two here, except if you like shopping and going out. I didn’t really go crazy on partying on the eve of my departure, but I definitely made up for it in terms of shopping at the outlets! The next morning, I boarded my flight back to Paris… 

Denis -Highlights from travels in January 2010


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