John & Anne Wiley

2019/01/02

Glancing Glasgow

Scotland has been a lifelong interest for me, so it’s no surprise that Glasgow made a strong positive impression when we finally got there in 2003. What’s surprising is that this 2018 UK/EU trip had only a couple of hours there! Even so, the beautiful train ride from Edinburgh enhanced the anticipation of our arrival.

07932 Rural Scotland

07932 Rural Scotland

Even as skies darkened and rain showers increased, fascinations were abundant.

07918 Distant Castle

07918 Distant Castle

Far away in time and space, castles in various states of ruin and restoration garnished the green around villages, towns, and small cities like Linlithgow. But soon we emerged from the Glasgow station feasting eyes (and cameras) on a transforming city.

133639 Up Into Glasgow

133639 Up Into Glasgow

The station is below street level, with covered escalators including a set near an old clock tower.

7951 Turning Back

7951 Turning Back

We walked back beyond the distant escalator arch (left side of pic) to check it out again, since we’d heard in ’03 the then empty upper level was to be refurbished.

7959 Short Tower

7959 Short Tower

Sure enough, what had in the last millennium been atop the station was now a quirky cool two-story cafe. Even with all the new and refurbished buildings since our last visit, we saw construction and restoration in process everywhere in the city core. We walked a few blocks along River Clyde and enjoyed a mini “Brooklyn Bridge.” Perhaps a former carriage connection, it’s now a slightly wobbly pedestrian bridge.

140050 New Tags, Old Bridge

140050 New Tags, Old Bridge

With so much care going into this beautiful city, ugly graffiti tags here and there stand out. Back in the core, most of the crowd still seems to be locals strolling the mix of ancient, deco, and new architecture.

7954 People & Place

7954 People & Place

There are also both new and old indoor shopping arcades, and being tourists we found the old more interesting.

7956 Old Arcade Entrance

7956 Old Arcade Entrance

Just a decade and a half since our longer visit here, we could barely recognize it.

7987 Old Buildings, New Faces

7987 Old Buildings, New Faces

With so many buildings obviously old or even ancient, our lack of recognition clearly reflects a need for more time here. But alas, we were already headed back to the station for our turn to the South.

7997 Approaching Train

7997 Approaching Train

Along with the many “People Make Glasgow” banners, we saw quite a few admonishing us to “Think Before You Step Out.” Probably related to foreign visitors used to traffic on the “wrong” side, it could also apply to visitors about to step out of this beautiful city after only a glance. I wish we could’ve at least kept exploring until our train, but waiting in the covered station did give us some time for lunch and people watching.

7999 Sheltered Station

7999 Sheltered Station

In a cold Winter blizzard this must be a welcome shelter for people, pigeons and all living things. This former street level is also preserved as a repurposed arcade where locals, other Scots, and tourists gather in this global city spanning rugged, refined, ancient and contemporary.

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Edinburgh Revisited

We woke well ready to explore Edinburgh again in more depth, undeterred by heavy overcast and occasional drizzle. That tower on the hill was taunting us again, but first we set out on foot.

7491 Taunting Tower

7491 Taunting Tower

Some of the narrow back alleys and walkways appropriately append “Close” to their names.

7494 Call Close

7494 Call Close

Walking up the Royal Mile we noticed motorcycle police passing down the hill clearing the street and we wondered why as we stepped to the sidewalk.

7498 Parting the Crowd

7498 Parting the Crowd

Turning to look back up the street this stoic, fervent and loud parade marched into view. Despite the drums and noise of it, both they and the awed audience seemed to maintain silence.

7501 Loud Silence

7501 Loud Silence

After the rather long and slow procession passed, the mood was powerfully enigmatic as we joined those resuming toward the castle.

7510 Mixed Crowd

7510 Mixed Crowd

Soon the street was packed, so we decided to pause for lunch and found a dining balcony with this view.

7519 View Table

7519 View Table

It seemed there was some other big event coming up, with bleachers set up outside the inner gate making for a happier mood than during the parade.

7522 Royal Smile

7522 Royal Smile

Rather than pay to go inside the next gate, we decided to take the bus tours and found they provide many different perspectives on the castle.

7585 Bus Top to Castle

7585 Bus Top to Castle

We took several tours, and added to castle views they introduced us to many more things of course. Like this monument to Prince Albert depicting the people’s mourning of his passing.

7619 Mourning Albert

7619 Mourning Albert

More castle views from the bus open upper deck provided context with the city skyline.

7673 Castle Context

7673 Castle Context

One tour took us out toward that tower on Calton Hill, where we hopped off for the brief walk up and paused for yet another city view.

7711 More City View

7711 More City View

Looking past a cemetery and beyond an array of architectures was Salisbury Crags, the other main hill gracing the city core from this side.

7715 Ramp Cliff

7715 Ramp Cliff

My camera’s longest zoom revealed some of the hikers enjoying the cliff edge view there.

7734 Selfies & Scenery

7734 Selfies & Scenery

We didn’t go up in the tower, but the surrounding views gave us a tiny taste of what flying low and slow here would be like. As with the city below, there’s also an interesting mix of buildings.

7720 Tower Companions

7720 Tower Companions

Eventually we walked back down the hill and caught another tour bus that provides glimpses of the Holyrood Palace complex.

7765 Holyrood Palace

7765 Holyrood Palace

We have about 400 pix from this glorious day, but I’m merciful. 😉

2018/12/22

Edinburgh Dusk

It was dusk by the time our train rolled into Edinburgh, our little suitcases rolled into the hotel, and we’d unpacked and rolled back out onto the street. Cobblestones seemed ancient, even if new, edged in the green nourished by frequent rain. How far had each of these stones traveled, and when were they formed?

7425 Set In Stone

7425 Set In Stone

After that glance we began to drink in the striking eclectic city skyline.

7447 Mixed Styles

7447 Mixed Styles

Towers beckon from a nearby hill, inviting us to climb up for a look.

7452 Hill of Towers

7452 Hill of Towers

Everywhere are memorials and statues, many adorned with moss and lichen, and defended by birds at the top of their pecking order.

7478 Living Ornamentation

7478 Living Ornamentation

The grand castle of course dominates the skyline, and snapping this I paused to ponder how many images of it must exist in the world by now.

7483 High Point

7483 High Point

The other notable hill in the old city core is this one, popular with hikers who enjoy the high vista it provides.

7487 Viewpoint

7487 Viewpoint

We returned to the hotel eager to explore in daylight, as you’ll see in the next post here.

2018/12/21

Scenic Train

Our train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh had us snapping lots of pix, so here’s a collection of our favs starting with a slow roll out of the main station.

104031 Leaving Aberdeen

104031 Leaving Aberdeen

Soon we began zipping past stunning coastal moments like this.

7127 Coastal Colors

7127 Coastal Colors

Even snapped through rail car windows, some of these pix convey a sense of the beauty.

111547 Tidal Boats

111547 Tidal Boats

Countless expanses of beach rolled by beyond the green.

7178 Quiet Beach

7178 Quiet Beach

The work of elders long past, still echoes with whispered memories.

7221 Stone Memories

7221 Stone Memories

We took a pause at Dundee to visit their new V&A Museum next to the new train station, only to discover that it was to open the next day!

122252 V&A Miss

122252 V&A Miss

So we stayed close to the station and caught the next train through, for this view back.

7256 Leaving Dundee

7256 Leaving Dundee

At the far end of this rail crossing lie the stout bones of an old vessel.

7274 Beached Bones

7274 Beached Bones

As the train picked up speed, glimpses of country life blinked past. Sometimes a village.

131046 Village Life

131046 Village Life

7306 Time & Place

7306 Time & Place

More views of this magnificent countryside unfolded between settlements.

124536 Earthy Essence

124536 Earthy Essence

There were castles aplenty, many in ruins, some well-kept, others being rebuilt.

7312 Restoration

7312 Restoration

Many quiet churchyards sheltered tombstones of the hands that built their walls.

7340 View to the Past

7340 View to the Past

This once lonely harbor lighthouse now makes a stepping stone for a long rail bridge, with Edinburgh coming into view far in the misty distance.

7389 Bridge Fort

7389 Bridge Fort

Next to an old highway bridge, the new one rises to shine.

134018 Bridges to Edinburgh

134018 Bridges to Edinburgh

2018/12/20

Sweet Aberdeen

For myriad reasons, two weeks have escaped since last I shared from our remarkable UK/EU Adventure. Similarly, many reasons that now escape me prevented any good pix of our lovely train journey from Inverness to Aberdeen. There was a song known to the guitar of my youth about Abilene (TX) that we’ve actually flown past, absolutely unrelated to this post aside from the tune now playing in my head. The city we visited in Scotland though, is indeed a pretty “town.”

6923 Hotel View 1

6923 Hotel View 1

We enjoyed the walk to our hotel despite dragging our light luggage, and the room views even more.

6925 Hotel View 2

6925 Hotel View 2

It was among the better room views of our remarkable trip, but even so…

6929 Hotel View 3

6929 Hotel View 3

…after quickly stashing luggage we headed out to explore and to look for a tour of the area. Carrying a camera and a few light items in a backpack, we contemplatively strolled an ancient church cemetery.

162420 Ancestral Memories

162420 Ancestral Memories

The search for tours wasn’t going well, though we were greatly enjoying the random wandering between old and new aspects of this rugged yet welcoming city.

6959 Old & New Comingle

6959 Old & New Comingle

It’s a major seaport, with quite a different feel than Inverness as large ships rock slowly amid rushing city traffic.

6964 Fast & Slow Contrast

6964 Fast & Slow Contrast

We didn’t find a tour. Surprising to us for an attractive city this size. There were a few tours to specific sites, mostly out of town, but no bus to take us around the city itself. So in a lucky stroke of inspiration, I hailed a cab. Lucky for us, it was driven by a native who turned out to own that small cab company. For about what an Edinburgh bus tour would cost, he started us out with highlights of the city and then nipped out to King’s College.

6980 King's College Chapel

6980 King’s College Chapel

To us, the chapel there qualifies as a small cathedral with an impressive steeple. Hopping out to walk into the courtyard, I of course snapped some decorative lintels like this one.

7006 Ages Of Learning

7006 Ages Of Learning

This place goes back a bit! Walking back out to the cab, I paused for this look at the neighboring towers and wondered whether they’d ever repelled an attack.

7019 Two Towers

7019 Two Towers

If it had once been a bastion of armed men, now there were families and I presumed women have now assumed prominent positions in the faculty and student body (about 54% of students now).

7020 Girl Scales the Wall

7020 Girl Scales the Wall

Among the many highlights of this custom tour was a stop at the ancient Church of St. Machar. The two main entrances curve among tombstones and memorials, invoking a reverence even before entering the cathedral.

7026 St. Machar Cathedral

7026 St. Machar Cathedral

We declined our guide’s offer to show off the city’s perhaps currently most famous golf course, but he enjoyed pointing out that the course was nearly not built. The developer threatened not to build it unless a planned offshore wind turbine was canceled. Despite that, the count was upped to a dozen or so and the golf magnate relented to the great amusement of locals.

7052 Local Storm

7052 Local Storm

Near where that zoom pic was shot, we drove past a beach arcade enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.

7068 Beach Promenade

7068 Beach Promenade

Our tour ended after a stop to check out perhaps the driver’s favorite restaurant, in a lighthouse themed building a little further along the beach at left. We strolled the downtown core a little more, taking in another breath of the fresh Scottish breeze wafting among the new and ancient facets of this rugged and friendly place.

7097 Aberdeen Air

7097 Aberdeen Air

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