Last week I had the chance to pack up and head off to Scotland and explored Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and divided as Old and New Town. The former was constructed during the 14th century, while the latter was created during the 18th century. Edinburgh won my heart, and definitely a must see, particularly some of the following hot spots:
- Edinburgh castle (more than a castle and once a royal residence. The National War Museum of Scotland is one of its highlight)
- National Gallery of Scotland (here you can enjoy the paintings of Monet, Van Gogh, John Singer Sargent, Cezanne…)
- National Museum of Scotland
- Scottish National Portrait Gallery
- Scottish Parliament Building (more than just a modern building and cleverly designed)
- St. Giles Cathedral
- Real Mary King’s close
- Arthur’s Seat (you have to climb up this long-dormant volcano to get a panoramic view of the beautiful city)
- Greyfriars Bobby statue (that’s the Skye terrier who I am stroking in the photo. This loyal doggy waited beside the grave of his owner from 1858 to 1872!)
- Princes Street (New Town shopping street)
- Royal Mile (Old Town shopping street and great place to hang out)
- Royal Botanic Garden
- Edinburgh University (of course!)
- Elephant House Cafe (this is walking distance to Edinburgh University in the old town and is a cafe in where JK Rowling came very often for a coffee, while writing Harry Potter in the back room. This cafe enjoys a view of Edinburgh castle and has a very inspiring ambience).
Glasgow is equally worth visiting, but I personally believe it needs some face lifting. The beautiful landscape along river Clyde, for instance, has gone to waste with plenty of buildings waiting to be demolished 😦 Having said that, if you ever make a visit to Glasgow, don’t leave before you visit the following hot spots:
- Glasgow University (established in 1451 and Britain’s fourth university, after Cambridge, Oxford and St Andrews)
- Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (one of Dali’s painting is worth seeing with an interesting story and Mackintosh design collections)
- People’s Palace and Winter Gardens
- George Square
- Gallery of Modern Art
- Millenium Bridge
Here’s some further interesting facts, as a wrap up:
- With the Acts of Union in 1707 Scotland united with England, yet the current controversy is whether Scotland and England should divide. Scotland’s future within the UK remains a big question, at least up until the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.
- Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic language, is an official language along with English in Scotland, but has no official recognition within the EU. It has been classed as a regional minority language, and spoken by 60,000 people in Scotland. A number of schools in Scotland provide Gaelic medium education but these pupils attending these schools only represent less than 1 % of all school pupils in Scotland. The Local Government Scotland Act in 1997 enabled local authorities to take up Gaelic names, yet the only downfall, particularly in these two cities is the non-existence of Gaelic-English street signs. The only place I saw Gaelic writing was at the Scottish Parliament, and listened to some Gaelic broadcasting local radio channels. The few Scottish locals I spoke with knew no Gaelic either. This leaves me to think, in a rather speculative spirit, that Gaelic is on the verge of extinction (please tell me I’m wrong!), particularly in Scotland; hence believe more effective legislation needs to be enforced for promoting the usage of Gaelic.
- The only, and main, issue you need to be cautious about is its climate as you’ll get plenty of rain throughout the year, so make sure you invest in a good brollly and maybe a wolly jumper and rain coat. I needed all of these despite visiting in early/mid-June. Mind you, I was fortunate for being able to soak up some sun while up Arthur’s Seat, so yes your sunglasses might be handy. That’s not to forget a pair of comfy shoes as you will be climbing up a lot of hills. Enjoy 🙂