Saturday, 30 July 2011

My trip to Edinburgh, with Ear Drama!

Different kind of review today. From Wednesday the 13th to Monday the 18th of July I went to Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh. I went to the city with two friends, one of with lives down south with me, and one that lives up in the Highlands of Scotland. We 'did' this trip as an end of school trip. We went from Wednesday 13th till Monday 18th of July, so 6 days and 5 nights. Me and the friend from 'the south' flew out of Luton airport on the Wednesday morning, I forget which time. We got to the airport nice and early, but we already had the boarding passes, as we had checked-in online, with Easyjet, travelling in class! When going to Luton in the morning, be prepared to hit traffic, because this is the busiest time of the day for the airport. We got dropped of in the 'drop off' area in the car park next to the runway, and headed to the terminal via the free bus service from the car park, which took under 5 mins. We then made are way to security, bypassing  check-in. Thank god we did check-in online, the queues were huge! We got through security, fairly quickly, although we did have to WALK up the stairs with luggage, due to the escalators being out of use. And yes, we were taking luggage on the plane, like most people who fly within Europe on the budget airliners.

When we got to departures, we went to find something to eat, due to the lack of breakfast before setting off! We failed in getting food, but we did get a drink from Pret. We then headed to Boots, to get some mints for the flight, I got some polos. While in Boots, our flight was called. Which I found strange, because the last time I flew from Luton, 2 years ago, it was a quite airport, I swear. Anyway, we headed off to our gate, 16 I think to board the hour flight.

We touchdown in Edinburgh to an overcast sky. We went through the airport, with no security checks, to outside the terminal to the 'bus station' area. When the brought a ticket from the Airlink bus, which took you straight to Princes Street, in the heart of the City. The ticket cost around £6 one way, for the 30 minute bus ride into the city. We met out friend at the Princes Street Mall, after he got lost on the trip from Waverly Station (which is next door to the Princes Street Mall!), so I do not know how he got lost, but there we go! Anyway, we had lunch (early lunch!) in the food court there, when I had the very Scottish and healthy McDonalds. When the headed off to look around the city, with our suitcases, as it was around 11 and check in at the Travelodge, yes a travelodge, very posh! lol, didn't open till 2. So we mingled around Princes Street Gardens, and the long walk down the Royal Mile, which is Edinburgh's High Street, but Princes Street is where the main shops are located, to the Parliament building, which is very iconic! The Parliament is next to Arthur's Seat, an extinct volcano, which towers over the city. We headed up there after we checked into our hotel. And by gosh, its a long way up, but way worth the view! (pictures at the end)

After our long walk up, and then back down Athur's Seat, it was time for dinner, at Pizza Express, which was Nomable ;). After this, we headed back to the hotel, for a quick rest break, and then we headed out to experience the city at night. On our first day we decided to visit a few pubs down Rose's Street, which is in the New Town, one street back from Princes Street. There are some really nice pubs down this street, we went to two. The first one, I forget the name didn't really do it for us, and we sat outside with our pint. A women came up to us, and she was asking for money for a charity. We got talking to her, and we found out she was from the same town we lived in! And her mum worked at the hospital where we were born! Freaky, we gave her some money, and she gave us three truffles, which were scrummy. After this pub, we went passed a second pub, called the Rose and Crown, which live music playing, a duet called Bleeker, which played covers, but they were really good! So good infact, we went back on Sunday, and we got two free CDs, we got talking to them too, they were so nice. If you want to check them out, here they are on facebook, and they play at the Rose and Crown every Wednesday and Sunday from 7pm or 8pm. After a enjoyable night singing along, and after a draining day, we did get up at 5:30! we decided to get back to the hotel and relax, and then sleep! Dead out!

As was Wednesday, Thursday was another hot and sunny day, yes it was HOT and Sunny in Edinburgh! There were reports from down south while we were there that it had been raining! Ha! So we decided to head to the Castle, we got there for 12, so we could see the 1 o'clock gunshot, which well, was loud! The castle was beautiful. We then headed of down to Princes Street, to meander round the shops for a bit, and I had to buy some wrapping paper, as it was my mums birthday the day after we got home. We then decided to head up Calton Hill, at the end of Princes Street. This is where there is a tower, and Scotland's answer to the Parthenon, but half finished. After this we decided to get dinner, at The Filling Station on the Royal Mile, which is an American themed restaurant. We had decided to go to the HMV picturehouse for the night, where they transformed the space on a Thursday into a club. We decided to walk over to see if we could get tickets, instead of getting them when we got there. When we got there, they said that they did not issue tickets before, but they could put us on the VIP list, so that we could get in earlier and at a reduced price, so we did that! And we ended up there from 11pm to 3am, when most of the clubs in Edinburgh shut.
Next day was Friday, was unfortunately not as sunny we would have liked, well it was overcast, typical British summer then! So today we decided to the museums. And today was the day that I sent just over £10! that was for the WHOLE day, food and all, I was very proud. Anyway, we visited two free museums, 'The Museum on the Mound' and the Scottish National Gallery. The museum on the mound is run by the bank RBS, and is like the Bank of England museum in London, but on a much smaller scale. The musuem was very interesting, and even had £1million on display, but unfortunately the notes were void, much to my disappointment.But ho hum. The send place we visited was the National Gallery, which is an art gallery, right in the heart of the city, with paintings from a Van Gogh! And to be honest, that was one of the only artists that I knew, but still! And if I am really honest, I think I prefer more modern art, and the Tate Modern in London. After this we had dinner, and we couldn't decide where to eat, so we headed down to George's Street, and we decided to go to Weatherspoons, how classy! Hey, we're students on a budget! Afterwards, two of us felt ill, so we decided to hit the hay.

Saturday! Already! The weather was worse than Friday, miserable and kinda wet, so today we decided to hit the museums again! We went to the National Museum of Scotland and The Surgeons Museum. The National Museum of Scotland was going under refurbishment when we went, but I understand it is now fully open! So we missed out on Dolly (the Sheep) Dayum! But the museum was interesting, and most importantly Free, and was a shelter from the rain! Afterwards we headed over to the Surgeons Museum, which we kinda of regretted, because of the goriness, and it wasn't free, £5 entrance fee, and to be honest, I don't feel that the museum was worth the £5 price tag, especially when there was way more stuff in the National Museum of Scotland. If you don't want to be freaked out, I would not recommend the museum, as there is rather a lot of human organs in jars, I'll say no more. Saturday was also the day we ventured down to the Hard Rock Cafe! I had been in the Hard Rock Cafe, but only to buy the t-shirt, and not to eat! I'm not going to say much about the experience at the HRC, because I have filmed a video about my experience there, you can view the video here. After eating dinner at HRC, we ventured out for the night, to a club called The Hive, and if I am honest, for me this was the best night of the stay. The Hive is a club just off the Royal Mile, underneath some shops, with a £4 entrance fee. There are 3 rooms, on the night we went, the biggest room had music that is in the charts/ cheese, room number 2 had indie/rock music and the 3rd room had a cocktail bar. There are 3 bars with in the club. And again, like most clubs, it closed at 3am, but during the month of August, The Hive stays open till 5am.

Sunday was a very hot day, and we actually decided to head to the Royal Botanical Gardens, and it was a long trek, 30 minutes plus from our hotel each way. I wanted to go for the picture taking opportunity, and the view back into the city, but some of the garden were really pretty, and it is free to get in! After we spent the afternoon in the gardens, and the park opposite, we headed back into town to have a meal, at a pub/restaurant, very touristy, The World's End. We had dinner early, so we could go a listen to Bleeker again at the Rose and Crown on Rose's Street, which is when we got some free CD's. Bleeker seem to be playing lots of pubs and bars in Edinburgh, so I would recommend to try and go see them. After this, they finished at 11, we went over to the club called Ignite. This is quite a cool place, as it has to clubs in one, I forget the second one, and it had a £5 entrance fee. Downstairs was one club, and upstairs was the second, with a VIP room downstairs. The night we went, the downstairs had the usual mainstream, chart tunes, but the second club, upstairs had 80's and 90's music, and to be honest, we spent most of the time upstairs, doing the Macarena and other various cheesy dances, the send Macarena of the week!

Monday was I final day in Edinburgh, and it was the day we catched the flight back to London Luton. So we decided to visit the zoo, which was located on the bus route back to the airport, so we took the Airlink bus to the zoo and after the zoo, onto the airport. Now the weather today was horrible, and tipping it down with rain, and one of my friends did not have a raincoat, so we had to first find a place that sold raincoats, we checked out Millets first, but he then settled on a coat from Tresspass, I forget the price. After this we then catched the bus off to the zoo, in the rain. The zoo was a little bit disappointing for me, especially the £15 price tag, £13 if you opt out of the charity donation, and especially for the zoo's size, not one of the biggest, and I have been to a fair few zoos in my time. Any, there was still a lot to see and do, well see at least, the do included walking. There are the normal, bog standard animals at Edinburgh Zoo, such as Lemurs, Tigers and Penguins, but there was an animal that is exclusive to Edinburgh Zoo, the Koala Bear, which of what we could see there were two of, but of course they were a sleep and had their backs to us.The zoo is also soon getting two Pandas, but these were not there on our visit, which is a shame. There was also a large Penguin area, the largest I had seen. After we had visited the zoo, we headed of for the around 15-20 minute trip to the Airport, after saying goodbye to our friend from Northern Scotland. After we had gotten through security and into airside, we headed of to find somewhere to eat, we chose 'Eat'. The thing I love about Edinburgh Airport is that all along the wall facing out onto the runway, is a wall of windows, and this is prominate when your airside. Our flight was called and we made our way to boarding, without any long walk!

All was well during the flight, until 15 minutes before landing back a Luton, when the Captain told us we were about to make our final descent into Luton. This is when my ears decided to play up. Throughout the flight I had been eating polos and sweets, as my ears pop a lot during flying. But on this descent, this wasn't about my ears popping, they really, really hurt. The pain was quite unbearable. When we landed, the pain had stopped, but my hearing felt muffled, like I was underwater. This continued for a good while into the week after we got back, but now has stopped. We think the reason for this sensation is due to me having a cold, and this may have affected my ears during the flight. I may be going to Dublin during September, I do not want it to happen then!


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