"Beefy's Scotland and Edinburgh Page" Edinburgh by Beefy_SAFC
Edinburgh Travel Guide: 3,409 reviews and 6,784 photos
Visited many times, not difficult considering I live in North East England. As they have their own parliament again, I have decided to include Scotland in my 'countries visited' list. I went to Edinburgh when I was a child (I can't even remember), returning in March 2002, up to Loch Ness in 1990 and have visited the Scottish Borders twice in the last few years. See <b><a href="http://www.wkyo.freeserve.co.uk">http://www.wkyo.freeserve.co.uk</a></b> for a few pictures.
<b>Strange happenings:</b> Nothing really strange happened in any of my visits to Scotland. Well, not quite, there was the Nepalese whisky and drinks dropping out of people's hands, who'd had just a bit too much.
<b>Advice:</b> Scotland has a lot going for it, including the obvious attractions (i.e. the castles in Edinburgh and Sterling, country houses etc., if that's your sort of thing). My own personal preferences are the lochs and the Highlands, preferably the less spoilt areas. Some lochs have been commercialised (i.e. Loch Lomond and others have motor boating, windsurfing and water skiing among their attractions - actually sounds like fun), with Loch Ness in the Great Glen being amongst these. The monster legend has attracted a lot of visitors, but it is worth visiting for the loch itself. The Western Isles and the Isle of Skye, although remote, are said to be worth a visit.
As Scotland is highly mountainous (Ben Nevis is the highest peak in Scotland and the United Kingdom at 1,343 m or 4,406 ft, the Cairngorms and the Grampians are also of note, not forgetting the Southern Uplands), there are plenty of opportunities for experienced climbers and hill walkers, and in the winter, places such as Aviemore offer some limited skiing opportunities. There are also plenty opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts and ornithologists (the rocky coastline with a large number of cliffs and islands attracts a large variety of bird life and seals can be found in a number of areas). If you want to keep things easy, there's a Sea Life Centre near Oban (which I wanted to go to, but couldn't).
Scotland, with a football league separate from England and Wales, has more football supporters per head of population, though the high number of clubs mean that this support is thinly spread. One oddity here is that Berwick , an English side (although Berwick has changed hands a lot between England and Scotland), plays in the Scottish League.
<b>Edinburgh</b> is a magnet for most people visiting Scotland and everybody makes it to the castle for a look at the Stone of Scone and the Scottish Crown Jewels. The views from there over the city are spectacular too. The best line of approach (and the traditional one) for those who are fit enough is from Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament and up the Royal Mile - great route for shopping for souvenirs too. The Edinburgh Military Tattoo is held annually in the square before the castle gates, which at other times acts as a congregation point for visitors and tour groups. A lot of people end up on Arthur's Seat, a short walk from Holyrood Palace, another place for great views of the city and Edinburgh Zoo on the Glasgow road is worth a look too. Shopaholics can head for Princes Street for the big high street brands.
It used to be said that all there was to do in Edinburgh was to visit the castle and the zoo - this is no longer the case. There are many tours available, the best of which are the night time ghost and underground tours. I did the ghost tour into Greyfriars Cemetery by Blackhart Tours, which I can highly recommend. Yes, the gags are made up (like the bloke jumping in the tomb in the Covenanter's Gaol to scare everyone, whom I believe also doubled as a drunk telling everyone the tour was a load of crap at the start) and there's a logical explanation for the phenomenon that are supposed to happen to people on the tour as they leave one of the tombs. But I'll be a spoilsport for anyone doing the tour if I say more...
Greyfriars is also of Greyfriars Bobby fame, the little dog who followed his master to Edinburgh in the 19th century and when his master died, visited his grave every day till he died too. There's a small statue or cast outside the cemetery and a grave inside to commemorate the story. But there's couple of catches. The dog visited someone's grave with the same name of his master, when his master was in fact, buried in another cemetery nearby. Did the dog make this mistake, cause it could read? Also, the dog might not be buried where the gravestone to it's grave is situated. Don't quote me on these tales.
The Edinburgh Dungeon uses entertainment to tell some of the more gory stories of the area's history. In that way, it's very similar to those in York, London and Hamburg. London is the best one, but Edinburgh's pretty good too. I'll not tell any of the tales so as not to spoil things, but when I say rats were used to torture confessions out of prisoners in Edinburgh in past centuries, well, that gives you a clue. The school master style judge you encounter when you first enter certainly gives you a taste of what's to happen next. I'd think twice about taking very young children in - I saw one little girl in tears in the queue to go in, who had to be taken out again.
Nightlife in Edinburgh, good, not as concentrated as say Newcastle, but cheaper considering the licensing laws mean the pubs can stay open as long as the nightclubs, resulting in the nightclubs dropping their admission charges and reducing the price of the beer. Interesting was watching some of the locals getting so drunk, that the beers just dropped out of their hands where they stood. What a waste of good beer.
Last but not least, can we forget the <b>whisky</b> distilleries? No. Try to visit one if you can. If not, try at least to get a decent bottle of whisky, available anywhere in Scotland, Japan or Nepal. Yes, one brand of Nepalese whisky is distilled in Scotland.
Oh, and there are bagpipes, you just can't avoid them. There was one man with kilt and full regalia playing his bagpipe, walking up and down a stretch of fence along the border with England at a place called Carter Bar, one time me and my friends headed north (think it was put on specially for a tour group). Did I say I had experienced no strange happenings in Scotland?
<b>Weather:</b> Temperate climate, with mild winters (temperatures around about three to five degrees) and summers (upper teens to lower twenties). Rain is possible at any time of year (with snow likely in winter), especially on the west coast and in the Scottish Highlands. The Scottish Highlands can be a few degrees cooler in winter and as a result, heavy snow can occur.
<b>Currency:</b> Pound Sterling of course, though a number of the Scottish banks can print the own pound notes. A bit of a novelty considering England and Wales only have one pound coins. The Euro may be accepted at a very few retail outlets.
<b>Language:</b> English, but some Gaelic is still spoken in remote areas and in the Western Isles.
<b>Beer and Beverages:</b> As regards beer, there are many brands available, but my own personal recommendations are the McEwan's bottled beers, 80 Shilling and 90 Shilling.
But it is whisky that Scotland is more famous for, including the stuff distilled there and relabelled as Nepalese or Thai whisky (though I'm not sure if Thailand distills it's own or not). Brands such as Glenfiddich have become famous around the world, but that said, the minor brands such as Tomatin (I paid a visit to this particular distillery near Aviemore) shouldn't be ignored.
I'm not a whisky lover, so I'm probably not the best person to advise people about whisky. What I can do is point you to the following website, Travel Scotland: Whisky Galore , which gives an overview of the main malt whisky distilleries in Scotland, plus where they are and is as good a starting point as any.
One more thing, when referring to Scottish whisky, don't insert an 'e' between the 'k' and the 'y'. That is not the way the Scottish like to spell it.
May as well try some haggis while you're here too...
<b>Religion:</b> Most do not follow a set religion, but there are strong protestant, presbyterian and catholic traditions. In Glasgow, this is reflected in their love of football, with those of catholic descent following Celtic and those of protestant descent following Rangers.
Islam and Hinduism are practiced by some ethnic minorities - a strange picture comes to mind as regards what they think of some of the hard drinking Scots, when they start to hit the drink around them (and the drinks start dropping out of their hands), as especially as in Islam, alcohol is forbidden. Tolerance and acceptance are the watchwords here.
Also, one thing I came across is that one of the largest Buddhist Monasteries in Europe is near Eskdalemuir in the Scottish Borders, but I don't think visitors are that welcome.
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