So here it is, the conclusion to the series about our “triangular trip” through Great Britain.
We arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon, greeted by the slightly chilly Scottish air and the sound of bagpipes. After taking t a stroll down the Royal Mile and viewing the Palace of the Holy Roodhouse, we had dinner at a pub called Deacon Brodie’s. Thankfully, the restaurants are not too crowded at this time of year.
The next morning, John (my brother) and I decided to hike up Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano situated on one side of the city. Despite the rainy and windy weather, we managed to hike the stony path and reach the top, “walking in a dishwasher” according to John. It was worth it though; bringing us to a great view of the city. Besides, when’s the next time you’ll hike up an extinct volcano in Europe in the rain?
After drying off at a Starbucks, we went to the National Museum of Scotland. In contrast to the museums in London, the National Museum features natural exhibits and historical artifacts, a nice variety for people. The most unusual exhibit there- a giant clock with a grasshopper on the top. Definitely not something you see every day.
We ate lunch at the Elephant House, the place where British author J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. The pub takes pride in their status; a bulletin board boasts several news articles and pictures about J.K. Rowling and a sign out front states “The Birthplace of Harry Potter.” While we were eating, I couldn’t help but notice several people writing on their laptops and in journals, probably aiming to catch some of Rowling’s inspiration.
After, seeking someplace indoors, we went to the Scottish National Gallery, an art museum filled with hundreds of year’s worth of paintings. I recognized several artists’ pieces, including Monet, Van Gogh and Degas. Compared to the National Gallery in London, this one was much smaller and easier to navigate.
For dinner that night, we went to the Conan Doyle, a pub named after the famous Sherlock Holmes author, Arthur Conan Doyle. The inside was small, yet cozy and resembled the inside of a house, complete with Christmas decorations.
On Friday, we took an all-day bus tour up to the Highlands of Scotland, where several lochs are. What I didn’t know, loch is actually Gaelic for lake.
Up there, the landscape was extraordinary and breath-taking. In some places, the mountains and lochs were so beautiful; it was hard to believe they all formed naturally. One town in particular, Glencoe, had a spectacular view of mountains: some even had snow on top of them!
The best place we stopped: the world-famous Loch Ness, home of the supposed Loch Ness monster, “Nessie.” The lake itself stretches 23 miles long, much bigger than I thought it to be. That could be reason why nobody has been able to find Nessie. You never know.
The placed we stopped at had a dock we could view the loch from. To get to it, we actually had to go under the road through a tunnel. A safe yet interesting way to get across the road.
Several different portrayals of Nessie exist, evident in the two figures we saw. The first one was a mean statue of Nessie, baring his teeth, while the other, inside, depicted a friendly Nessie.
Our bus driver /tour guide did tell us a true story about a plane from World War II found in the lake. He told us that in 1940, a Wellington Bomber had to be ditched in Loch Ness after suffering technical failure. Most of the crew escaped, but the plane sank to the bottom of the loch. It wasn’t until 1985 when people, using Sonar equipment to look for Nessie, stumbled across the wreckage. They might not have found Nessie, but still, quite a discovery.
Overall, after spending most of the week dodging city people and traffic, traveling to such peaceful places and views proved to be a nice change. The Highlands are definitely seeing, an example of how different landscapes can be.
Friday was our last full day in Europe. The week had gone by fast, but we had accomplished quite a bit, traveling to three different cities in just one week. I’m so glad we had the opportunity to travel as a family in Europe.