(Yes, I know they’re called rooks, but I needed a pun)
Hiya lads and lasses! I did my final wee bit of Scotland exploration this week, which is to say, I finally did the one touristy thing I’d been avoiding doing for all too long. I went to Edinburgh Castle. AND I went INSIDE Edinburgh Castle.
I’ve been avoiding this a bit for a few reasons. First, it’s rather cold and windy in Edinburgh, and the castle is at the top of a hill, where it is colder, and windier (lame excuse, but I’m cold constantly here). Second, it’s actually a bit pricey to get in (£17) and I can buy a lot of food for that much money (also a lame excuse, but eating helps ease the pain of the cold). And third, there’s a stigma that if you visit the castle before graduation you will fail your exams. Which, I know, I’m not a full time student here. Or superstitious. But that would be a very unfortunate outcome.
Anyways. To the details. The castle isn’t really a palace or anything like that. It’s more of a series of small building protected by a wall, and sitting atop of one of Edinburgh’s 3 extinct volcanos. Each of the little building has been converted into a museum of sorts, with different information about the history of the castle, famous assaults on t he defended, and a few oddities (like the history of the Scottish guard). There was also one really big cannon that could apparently fire about two miles. That’s just a wild concept to me. The entire castle had gorgeous overlooks of the city and stunning architecture. Anyways, I figure it’s a bit better explained through pictures, so enjoy!
The highlight of the day was seeing the ORIGINAL stone of scone, you know, the thing that Justin and I took the train all the way to Perth to see the replica of. Funny enough, it was just sitting in a glass case, a casual block of metamorphic rock chilling with the Scottish Crown Jewels. Of course, they wouldn’t let us have a scone with this one so that trip was still very much worth it. But it was a bit of a shock to see it here, especially because I thought it was in London.
Anyways, we did make it to the castle. And, even through wind that almost knocked us off our feet a few times, we crushed being tourists.
After a year spent in “soft-lockdown” at home in Atlanta, and as Caltech students prepared to finally return to campus, I was aboard an eight hour flight towards Edinburgh, Scotland. Since my junior year plans were interrupted by the virus who shall not be named, I’m spending my first term of senior year studying abroad through the Caltech - Edinburgh University International Exchange program. I’ve only been here just over a week yet have been exposed to so many new people, perspectives, foods, and classes.
When the announcement was first made that fall term was going to be online, I started talking to friends and looking for places to live. We were debating locations around the country: California, Florida, New York, etc.. there were plenty of options. Then it suddenly hit me, what is stopping us from going to Hawaii, covid numbers were better and a two week quarentine would ensure that numbers stayed down… I proposed this to my friend and we agreed it would be an amazing experience, but we didn’t want to get out hopes up. A month or so later we still haven’t decided where to live, Hawaii seemed too far and too difficult to plan. But we couldn’t get the idea out of our heads. We spent some time looking into plane tickets, places to stay, etc… and it actually didn’t seem so impossible after all. A couple weeks later and we were arriving here on the big island!
I visited Amsterdam for a brief two and a half days during my vacation. There were a few landmarks and neighborhoods I wanted to checkout, but did not plan the visit in detail. As such, when it came down to destinations with ticketed entries, I had to skip most of them, since they did not have day-of tickets left for sale. Fortunately, I was able to walk around most of the city and it was generally a good time.