Tuesday, June 25, 2013

THE END OF THE HIGHLANDS AND THE LAKE DISTRICT

On our way back to the South, we stopped in Callander to spend a night there.



We stayed in the Dreadnought hotel which is even mentioned in Wikipedia. The fact that they were just renovating it, didn't bother us too much, although I got stuck in the very old lift ! The rooms were very spacious and we almost needed a walkie talkie to communicate from one bed to the other.

Callander  is a small town in the region of Stirling, Scotland, situated on the River Teith. The town is a popular tourist stop to and from the Highlands.



 Early morning before the departure I took a few pictures of the town.

The town serves as the eastern gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the first National Park in Scotland. Due to its location it is often referred to as the "Gateway to the Highlands". For us this was not the case as we used it as exit from the Hightlands.








And then we continued our way to the Lake District through a gorgeous landscape !











and had 2 h to visit Keswick which is situated just north of Derwent Water, and a short distance from Bassenthwaite Lake, both in the Lake District National Park.

The town is recorded in the 13th century as 'Kesewic', meaning 'farm where cheese is made'. The name is from the Old English 'cēse' (cheese) with a Scandinavian initial 'k'

Keswick was granted a charter for a market in 1276 by Edward I. The market is held every Thursday and Saturday in the pedestrianised main street in the middle of the town. The marketplace features the Moot Hall which once acted as the town hall but is now a local tourist information office.

During the 16th century, small scale mining took place in Keswick, and it was the source of the world's first graphite pencils.

Keswick was the first place in Great Britain where police used riot gear. The equipment was on trial in Manchester when there was a disturbance on Windebrowe Avenue, in which a police car was overturned.

The drive through the Lake District showed us the beauty of this National Park.









All these pictures I took out from my bus seat, which excuses the quality !


Thursday, June 20, 2013

EDINBURGH - UK TOUR




When we approached Edinburgh on our tour around the UK we wondered how many men we would see with a kilt instead of trousers.



The first one we saw was for tourists on a border which should "separate" Scotland from England. Of course as a real Scot he asked for money to take a picture.

When the bus stopped our guide did a walk with us through Edinburgh city center and to the castle.
It was really very beautiful, but we didn't see one man in a kilt ! Ilona  had dreamt of Scots all looking like Sean Connery and we were rather disappointed. They all looked more or less  normal  like men everywhere !



The walk through Edinburgh had shown us a little of the town, but we wanted to see more. What is the best to do when you want to visit a city you don't know ? It's taking a sightseeing bus !

And that's what we did.



We had a nice overview of Edinburgh, lots of explanations, which unfortunately I have already forgotten and should look it up again the day I write about Edinburgh.




The only thing I really do remember because I had never heard of this,  was Edinburgh's Greyfriars Kirk graveyard. There had been a lot of "Body snatchers" in the 19th century, who stole the bodies for the medical and private anatomical schools. Apparently it was a very lucrative business. To protect their dead relatives, a family member used to sit on the grave for at least 3 weeks or the graves where protected by iron bars. It was a rather eerie place and the guard didn't wear a kilt either !




What we saw "en masse" were kilts to buy. But I can't imagine Mr. G. wearing a kilt on Waterloo's market when he goes shopping. Instead of buying a kilt, I bought a scarf from a real Highland sheep !




Of course we saw a few men in kilts, but it was their working clothes for the tourists. The guy with the shield suddenly jumped on them and most of the people laughed, but not all !



Before we returned to the hotel, we had a baked potato  and pitied the guy who talked for hours about our sins and what to do to follow Jesus. Of course nobody listened. He must have lost his voice at the end of the day.



and then finally, near the station we saw a real Scot, just coming out of his office ! Not quiet Sean Connery, but still.

The next day we decided to go on our own to Edinburgh because it was a "free day".


After breakfast we started our day by taking a sightseeing bus at the station. It took us to the "new" part of Edinburgh which we hadn't seen yesterday.  The weather was wonderful, the sun was shining and we could sit on the deck of the bus.



We listened to the explanations and looked around and tried to see as much as we could.





We passed by the botanical garden, which looked beautiful



and got out of the bus to see the "Britannia" the yacht which took Queen Elizabeth II and her family around the world. Now she is permanently moored as an exhibition ship here in Edinburgh. The entrance to the yacht is via the Ocean Terminal. We didn't go on board, we had no time for that. But at least we had seen the beautiful ship from outside.

We hopped on the next bus which took us around another side of Edinburgh and then brought us back where we had started from. I think it's the best way to see the maximum of a city if you don't have a lot of time.



Then we walked along the main shopping street, where saw some interesting fancy people, a guy who talked about Jesus and our sins all alone for hours, but nobody listened to the poor man. A bagpipe player,  a woman who had her face covered with piercings so that you couldn't see her skin anymore and a fire  juggler !

We had lunch in a nice pub and Ilona ate "Fish & Chips" for the first time in her life and found it delicious.



We did some window shopping, Ilona bought 3 Scottish scarfs, and then we sat again in the sunshine and had a nice ice cream ! We were so happy that we had such a good weather for once we were in Edinburgh !

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

HADRIAN's WALL

As usual wherever I go my friends the Romans have been there already even in the UK and they left a lot of traces ! One of them is Hadrian's Wall.

Hadrian was born on January 24, 76 A.D. He died on July 10, 138, having been emperor since 117. He was known for his many building projects,

Hadrian's Wall Country stretches across the north of England from the west Cumbrian Roman coastal defences. Hadrian's Wall was built, beginning in 122, and was 117.5 km (73.0 mi) long to keep Roman Britain safe from hostile attacks from the Picts. The Picts were a group of Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Celtic people living in ancient eastern and northern Scotland. Hadrian's wall  was the northernmost boundary of the Roman empire until early in the fifth century.

Today many of the stones have been carted away and recycled into other buildings, but the wall is still there for people to explore and walk along.

We didn't walk along, the bus stopped for half an hour to allow us taking pictures and we just had an overview of the outstanding beautiful landscape.

 Now that we know we can always come back here later.





a little blown away by the wind ! Nevertheless the sun was shining !









A last glance back and we continued our tour.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

LOCH NESS

Of course my UK tour also included a visit to Loch Ness ! And for once the sun was shining and this normally so misterious place, looked cheerful and not spooky it all !



And as evidence that I had been there I dared to sit and pose on the monster !

Some explanations about Loch Ness : it is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 km (23 mi) Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56.4 km2 (21.8 sq mi) Its deepest point is 230 m (755 ft), deeper than the height of London's BT Tower at 189 m (620 ft.

It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie".



And with Nessie started  a discussion in our bus, about this mystery. Of course there is an official version, and several others which you can google, but the most interesting and logical for me was the explanation of a Scot, who told us that probably a circus went by and they bathed their elephant. The weather was grey and dark and the poor elephant looked like a monster. I tried to show you this in the above collage ! Seems to be quiet right, if you are a down to earth person.



This ship took us around the Loch



Nessie sat just besides



We bravely lined up, found a nice place and had the most beautiful views !









Then we arrived near the Urquhart Castle
 








The present ruins date from the 13th to the 16th centuries, though built on the site of an early medieval fortification. Founded in the 13th century, Urquhart played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.

Then we continued our tour.









It had lasted about an hour. A little dazzled by all this beauty I had seen, we went off the ship and returned to our bus.



And I had a last glance on this stunning landscape.


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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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