...and so many languages, so little time!
I'm back from Edinburgh, so I'm going to attempt to write a blog now while its all fresh in my memory. This could be interesting because I'm a absolutely exhausted and my brain is functioning at about 2% I think, but I'll give it a go...
Firstly, I received my Contiki pack the other day, hehe
Anyway, back to Edinburgh. First thing I noticed - it was absolutely FREEZING. Everything was quite grey for much of the weekend, grey skies, grey buildings. But in its own way, it was really beautiful like that. And I loved how there were so many contrasts. There is a lot of tradition, old buildings, people in kilts, old pubs, contrasted with some modern buildings like Scottish Parliament building and all the modern shops. We were in a large city, but then right by the sea, and by green hills and rocky cliffs, and castle in the centre of the city.
It took about 5 hours to get there, with only a short stop in Newcastle on the way. When we finally arrived we were all thoroughly ready to get off the bus and find some food. But first we had to check in to our hostel. Sounds simple, but add a dose of disorganisation and about 100 tired hungry people and you don't get a quick check-in. I think it took 2 or 3 hours for everyone to get their rooms. Fortunately we were one of the first groups, but it was still 9.30 by the time we got to eat.
When all the meals came, I noticed Lydia had ordered the fried Gnocchi. I didn't tell her while she was eating, coz I didn't want to put her off, but I had noticed on the menu it had a Haggis sauce... :s She didn't mind when she found out though, since she had liked the meal, and actually ordered Haggis, Neeps and Tatties for dinner the next night.
Other people tried some Scottish sort of meals over the weekend, but as neither internal organs nor fish nor game meats are really my thing I'm afraid I didn't. I did try a Scottish dessert, which contained whisky, so thats good enough for me!
The first night, after we finally ate, we went for a bit of a walk around Edinburgh city centre just generally acting like fools, taking photos and looking at the sights. It is really beautiful at night. We found a tiny Scottish pub where there were two guys playing music on a guitar and a violin, and went in there to get out of the cold for a little while. (Did I mention that Edinburgh is absolutely FREEZING!) Then we went back to our 12 person dorm to get some sleep, so we could get up early the next day.
None of us slept particularly well, but we did get up fairly early and made the most of our free breakfast by eating lots of toast.
Then, although intially horrified by the 10 pound entry price (thats over $20), we went to Edinburgh castle, which is at the top of a hill in the middle of the city and is connected to Holyrood Palace (the Queen's official Scottish residence) by the Royal Mile, a series of streets between the two. (And the main tourist centre probably too). The castle was interesting, and gave great views over Edinburgh so we weren't too unhappy about having to part with so much money.
A view of Edinburgh castle in the rain:
We spent the rest of the day exploring the streets of Edinburgh - well I say the rest of the day but in reality, by 4pm we were exhausted and it was already dark so we sat in a coffee shop for a few hours, then went back to the hostel to lie down for a while! For dinner we found a pub called the Office that served the cheapest and largest meals we had found all weekend which was good. There was Karaoke here too, but I managed to avoid getting up to sing until the last song, and that was with the whole group anyway.
Then we went back to the hostel, and the others went to bed, but I stayed up and played pool in the hostel's bar with two other Australian's (also from Adelaide), a german guy and an Italian guy, also from Leeds Uni, and a Polish guy who is working in Scotland and we just happened to meet as he was staying in the hostel.
The next day, after only 4 hours sleep, I for some reason decided to climb the big hill you can see in photos below. The path was really steep at first, but then leveled out and it really wasn't as difficult and didn't take as long as we first thought it might. But after that, and a bit more wandering the streets, the cold and the lack of energy was getting to everyone and ended up sitting in a coffee shop again for a while.
So I didn't see a lot of things from the inside since everything was too expensive for us, but I did walk past most of the main attractions and see them from the outside. And the places we did go gave great views. Even being freezing cold, and having damp shoes from the rain on the Saturday was all part of the experience.
Some more photos:
One of our many breaks indoors to get out of the rain at Edinburgh castle. It was cold and windy and our shoes were wet! (But then a few minutes later it would be blue skies.)
The hill I climbed (once I've stitched it together I'll have panoramic photo of the view from the top to put up here):
The Edinburgh Botanical Gardens (I didn't actually go here as I was climbing the hill, but its a pretty photo taken by the french girls so thought I'd put it up.):
Apparently I resemble a psycho penguin:
At a Scottish pub:
L to R: Blandine, Mai, Me, Mat, Laurence, Lydia, and Rodrigo is behind.
And what trip to Scotland is complete without a kilted bagpiper?
Many more photos, but no space here so go to my Picasa/Google web album to see them. (There will probably be more coming too, once I get all the photos off others.)
And re: the subtitle "So many languages, so little time" - after I meeting so many different nationalities on this trip and realising I know none of their languages, I feel like I should be learning them. I think its a pity that in English speaking countries there is not much importance placed on learning languages, not like there is in other countries on learning English. And I guess thats understandable since there isn't the same need, but I still wish it wasn't like that.
I guess there is still plenty of time for me to learn, but I have to make the effort. And which language to I learn? The majority of my new friends are French, so it might make sense to learn French. But I have the best basis for learning German, since I did it in high school and would have the most opportunities to practice it home, since I know other people learning it. But I also like Italian and Spanish. Perhaps I can start with German, since that will be the easiest for me. Then I can move on to French, and then from there pick up some Italian and Spanish, as there are similarities between French and Italian and Spanish that might make it easier to learn one after learning another.
Hmmm, somebody hold me to this so I actually learn at least one language in my lifetime!!
Hope everyone is going well in Australia, and enjoying the warm weather and long daylight hours. (By 5pm here I feel like I should be going to be soon already!)