In July we paid a quick visit to Scotland, my first visit, but hopefully not my last.
The Caledonian sleeper train took us overnight from London to a small town in western Scotland called Fort William. I found that the stopping, uncoupling of carriages and slant of the tracks during the overnight journey contributed to a very disruptive sleep. I slept about two hours on the train. The entire train we travelled on will be defunct as of 2015 as new carriages will be added to the Caledonian fleet.
We stayed overnight at Inverlochy Castle Hotel.The castle was a little too isolated for me, but if you like quiet and remote, this place is for you. It boasts hunting and fishing as part of it’s experience.
From there we took a steam train across Spean Bridge, the bridge made famous by the Harry Potter films, to a town called Mallaig on the western coast of Scotland. The highlands were spectacular and made me think of the western coast of Ireland, Connemara, but on a larger scale.
We returned to Edinburgh and explored the beautiful, and lofty, Edinburgh castle, built on a volcanic plug and rising high above the city. Edinburgh was once known as the Athens of the north, but it was said that the city’s stench was so bad you could smell it from miles away. Hence the sewer system that spawned the wearing of platform shoes, no I am not kidding.
The underground tours, locally known as the sewer tour, explains the architecture of the city, the “closes” and the illegal retailers that set up shop beneath the bridge. It was here that we learned of the Burke and Hare murders. The tour was interesting and worth the time and money.
We stayed at the Caledonian Hotel, which was once a railway station.
The citizens will vote yea or nay for Scottish Independence on September 18th. From my talks with the older generation of Scottish people, tax money from Scotland is being funneled into London and tax payers up north don’t see much of a return on their taxes. The younger generation seems indifferent to independence.
I was shocked to learn that Scotland has its own separate currency from the UK. The value is the same as the UK but the look of the notes is different. Remember to use as much of the Scottish currency in Scotland, because it will not be accepted in the UK.