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~ Friday, September 12, 2003
Somebody down there is crabby about our money.
~ Thursday, September 11, 2003
All the phobias you could hope to find, in one handy place.
~ Wednesday, September 10, 2003
Badgers! Make sure the sound is turned up.
~ Tuesday, September 09, 2003
More from the first day in London
After settling in and checking out the chapel, we walked (a mistake, but I was too pigheaded to say so at the time) to the Science Museum so that I could see their collection of math artifacts, especially Napier's bones. Of course, being a Saturday, there was nobody on staff for me to talk to, so we then headed over to the Natural History Museum, which, like the Science Museum, was free admission (aside from a small fee to see the T-Rex exhibit, which was worth it).
I must say that I wish I had several days to see these two museums, and nothing else, especially the Natural History one. On and on and on they went, treasures hidden around every corner, and the Darwin Centre added to the mix. Afterward, we took in an outdoor exhibit of some amazing aerial photography by Yann Arthus-Bertrand. Then, supper, another long walk back to the apartment (what was I thinking?) and we were asleep, in London on a Saturday night, by 9:30.
Scotland, Day Four
Which is, in reality, London, Day One.
Lucky we left the B&B early enough, because we drove around downtown Edinburgh for some time trying to figure out where the long-term parking was. Turns out it's right beside Waverley Station, and we had even found it before, but the signs don't lead one to believe that it is long-term.
Because we were travelling on a Saturday, GNER (and I suspect all of the Britrail partners) offered something called "Weekend First," where ordinary second-class citizens like us could sit in a first-class car and pay £15 each to upgrade. Because of this wonderful idea, we rode in plenty of comfort, with no one threatening to sit beside or across from us. We watched the countryside roll by, watched an RAF jet fly out over the ocean, and especially enjoyed seeing the first stop along the way, a very pretty-looking town called Berwick Upon Tweed. We hope to return some day.
On arrival in London, we caught the tube from King's Cross Station to the Victoria Tube Station. On arrival there I promptly sank to the floor in a panic, having realized that I had left all of my important contact papers sitting in the passenger door of the car back in Edinburgh. This included that map to the aprtment where we were staying, as well as the name, address, and phone number. I had nothing!
I also couldn't remember the name of the company that had set me up to stay there, so the tourist booth could not help me. So Jo and I decided to head out into the street to see if anything rang a bell. Nothing did, but Jo spotted an internet shop, so we stopped there and I did the same search that had resulted in finding a place the first time. I found it, and was lucky the catch the person in on a Saturday. She gave me the details and we walked the three blocks to the apartment, only to find that our hostess was not in. So we took our suitcase, went and had lunch, then headed back. Our hostess, Jessica, was an older and volatile Itailan immigrant who assured us she had been there the whole time, even though earlier someone had let me into the building so I could go up and beat on the door. However, we quite liked her, and enjoyed the non-stop chatter she subjected us to every morning.
The apartment itself was built in the late 19th century, and was chock full of the most interesting clutter one could imagine, paintings and drawings and sculpture and books and a mini grand piano and hats and plants and and and... Its balcony overlooked the side of Westminster Chapel, which warranted a visit and, while not as spectacular as its Anglican fellow, was still an amazing place to visit.
... continued above.
~ Sunday, September 07, 2003
Scotland, Day Three
(note: There are now three photos up at my fotolog, all B&W)
We started the day with a bus trip out to Napier University so that I could have a look at Merchiston Castle (pronunciation note: it's a hard "ch"), where John Napier spent his years as laird. The building is attached to the rather tactless architecture of the university, but certainly still retains its character, perhaps even moreso because it is forced to stand out against so much glass and steel and concrete.
Inside, I lucked out by finding a wonderful receptionist who was willing to get me whatever info she could on Napier and the castle, and to boot she found me a security guard who was happy to take me for a tour of the building. It turns out that it is now used as offices and meeting rooms, and much of it has been fixed up to look as it might have 400 years ago. There were amazing paintings on the wood panelling of the ceiling at the top, which the guard told us were original, but sadly, I found out later that, while they dated from the same time, they had been moved from another building that was falling apart. After our tour, I went to the library, again finding someone willing to dive in and help, and ended up watching a terrific video about Napier.
After a quick lunch downtown, we went to meet with the tour guide we had hired to take us out to Roslyn Chapel. The tour was the sort of flaky, new age sort of thing that I might normally avoid, but for the purposes of the book it suited me just right. However, we almost didn't get to take it since directions were mishandled and Jo and I stood at the wrong corner for about a half hour. When we did catch up with her, traffic in the city was so bad that we were afraid we'd never make it out.
We did, though, and even though there was a hideous scaffolding covering the chapel to protect it from the elements, Roslyn was everything I might have imagined, and more. The carvings were amazing and seemed to cover every square inch of the walls and ceiling, and the sense of being someplace mystical was as strong as anything I've ever felt in my life. I hope to post a few pix soon.
After, we walked through Roslyn Glen, another amazing place, with carvings from hundreds of years ago and a view of some ancient Pictish carvings from across the river. And then we headed back, dropped off near our B&B so we could get supper and enjoy a walk on the beach.