Expedition to the green land of Scotland
A trip to Scotland took place in early October 2016 and lasted a week. We expected that the autumn season will bring us rain, mist and cold blasts of air. On the spot, it turned out, however, that the weather was excellent, cloudless, blue sky and a large amount of sun. Locals said that such a beautiful weather have not been seen in October since a long time and that it unique and exceptional situation. Great, it was just perfect for us!
Our trip began with a tour of Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland since 1437 years. Since 1999 is once again the seat of the Scottish Parliament (opened retry after an interruption in 1707 due to the unification of England), and the seat of the University of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is a city that is associated with several festivals and events: festival of theater, film, Jazz & Blues, art, fashion and performances of military bands. Edinburgh is a city dominated by the castle – one of the most powerful and oldest fortresses in Britain, which is not only a symbol of Edinburgh, but throughout Scotland.
Edinburgh has a long literary tradition, which became especially evident during the Scottish Enlightenment. This heritage and vibrant literary life of the city in the past led to the fact that Edinburgh has been declared the first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004. Famous authors, who lived in Edinburgh are:
- the economist Adam Smith, author of The Wealth of Nations
- Sir Walter Scott, creator of the historical novel and author of famous titles such as Rob Roy, Ivanhoe, and Heart of Midlothian. Sr Walter Scott is one of the most respected Scottish writers. After his death, there was monument erected in the city centre (in 1846) in the Gothic style. Monument commemorates not only the writer sitting along with his dog Maida, but also most of the characters that appeared in his novels. In total (excluding Scott and his dog) there are 68 figurative statues on the monument of which 64 are visible from the ground. Unfortunately – it was built of Binny sandstone mixed with oils shale, which feature high absorption of dust, smoke, soot and general pollution, so the monument has blackened over the years which accentuate the gothic feel. Cleaning the monument has been considered but after investigation and some checks it was decided that the process would cause too much damage.
- Robert Louis Stevenson, creator of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde;
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes;
- Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, whose novels are mostly set in the city and often written in colloquial Scots;
- Ian Rankin, author of the Inspector Rebus series of crime thrillers
- J. K. Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, who began her first book in an Edinburgh coffee shop: “The Elephant House”
Being in Edinburgh we went on 1-day trip to St. Andrews and “Kingdom of Fife.” On the trip, we went to the local office, “Gray Line”, which has in its offer several day trips in and around Edinburgh and the southern part of the Highlands (Glasgow, Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, possibility to see many castles including: the castle Dounne, Alnwick or Stirling ).
Our tour began with a stop at the Forth Bridge, built in 1890, which became one of the most famous railway bridges in the world.
Then we went to Dunfermline Abbey, where there is a great Benedictine monastery (built in the Middle Ages) and the surrounding cemetery.
Its biggest attraction is the tomb of the King of Scotland “Robert the Bruce“, which was covered with a monumental tombstone made of brass and glass.
Then we went to the fishing village of Anstruther, where we had lunch in one of the most award-winning restaurants in the UK, specializing in takeaway “fish and chips”.
After that, we visited the town of St. Andrews, famous for its golf, Scottish religious centre and the university St. Andrews which is the oldest one in Scotland. This is the university where Prince William met his future wife – Kate Middleton.
Our trip has finished in the evening. In overall, I think it was very well organized, with a nice, full of knowledge and passion guide. The only problem (for me) was the fact that the guide had too strong British accent and he was using the colloquial language somewhat interwoven Scottish (understandable only to British native speakers). The tour was very interesting, it is a pity that the guide did not make any effort to speak (knowing that in the bus there are foreigners) a little bit more slowly and clearly.
As there was a beautiful sunset at the end of the day, we said goodbye to the sun on the Calton Hill, which gave as a magnificent view over the city and the castle.