I've enjoyed exploring Edinburgh very much -- and spent my first few days here doing just that -- but I have also been able to take some day trips to other places in Scotland. To save time (since I should really be in bed right now -- leaving early tomorrow for Loch Ness!), I will make use of bullet points.
- Tuesday: took a short bus-ride to Rosslyn to see the Rosslyn chapel (made famous by the Da Vinci Code). It was a bit tourist-trappy, but still lovely, and in really pretty spot of countryside.
- Wednesday: I bought a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, and used my first of three valid days to go to Edinburgh castle. Very interesting, and in a beautiful spot overlooking the city.
- Thursday: took the train and a bus to St. Andrews. I used my pass to go to the castle there and the cathedral ruins. The cathedral used to be the largest in Scotland, and is in a breath-taking spot, right on the water. Since falling into ruins, it has been used as a cemetery (for some few hundred years...!). And of course, I saw the golf course, too.
- Friday: spent the day in Glasgow. Walked around the city, which has quite a different feel from Edinburgh... more urban and edgy. I explored the city for most of the day, and then met Jon and some of his friends for the Radiohead concert in the evening (!!). We had an interesting time getting back to Edinburgh on the train (since there were so many Edinburgh-ers at the concert)-- the initial crowdedness of it reminded me of rush hour in Hong Kong, or worse. Thankfully, ScotRail spontaneously added another train to help deal with the crowds, so we ended up not so squished for the 50-minute train ride back.
- Saturday: took the train to Stirling, with the aim of using my pass once more. Stirling Castle was very grand and had some lovely gardens. The town itself was very quaint as well. On the train ride there, I noticed some beautiful ruins at a stop called Linlithgow and realized that that was a Historic Scotland spot as well. So on my way back to Edinburgh, I "broke journey" (which I was happy to find was perfectly legal) and stopped at the Linlithgow Palace. It was gorgeous. Set right on a loch, and though only the skeleton of the original building still stands, you can get a feel for what a sight it must have been in its prime.
So there you have the bare bones of my stay so far. I hope to fill in some of the blanks with photos and stories soon. As I said earlier, I'm going to Loch Ness tomorrow. Will also see Inverness, too. It's a bit far from Edinburgh, so I decided to sign up for a day-tour package. So it looks as though I'll be one of those tourists on the tour buses. I guess I'm OK with that. With all of the navigating I've been doing on my own, I'm quite happy to take a break and have a guide take me places and tell me what I'm looking at. Anyway, more to come soon, hopefully. And I might get a chance to add a few highlight photos to this post at some point in the next few days.
Looking ahead, I leave for Oxford on Wednesday morning, will spend a couple days there before going to Wales to visit my distant cousins (more specifically, my late grandfather's cousin, May, and her children and grandchildren). Should be great! After a few days in Wales, I'll head back to the London area, spend a couple more days seeing the sights, and then fly home.