Day 1: On the train | Penzance
As you can see from the fact that I still had my bangs in these pictures: this has been a long overdue post. I took a lot of pictures during the trip – and by a lot, I mean over 1500 of them using both my DSLR and compact camera, which meant that it took me a long while to process them. This was during a trip to Cornwall in March that I organised for a group of people from my Uni. We stayed in Penzance at the YHA hostel for 3 days and 2 nights and took buses to travel around the area. If I were to return there, I would preferably want to use my own car to travel around because coordinating bus hours was such a nightmare! At some point, we had to wait for hours for a bus to arrive. However, it was a really pleasant stay. The scenery there was breathtaking, and to quote one of my travel mates: “I never knew England could be so beautiful”. It took us nearly 5 hours to travel from Paddington Station to Penzance so we ended up spending most of the first day on the train and the rest of that day was spent looking for a place to eat and the actual hostel where we were staying.
Day 2: St. Michael’s Mount | St. Ives | Land’s End
On the second day, we took the bus and visited St. Michael’s Mount, St. Ives and Land’s End. What was pretty amazing about Mount St. Michael was not only the spectacular view but also the way that people had access to it: basically, there’s a pathway that leads to the island, which disappears when the tide is high and reappears when it’s low. Therefore, it’s possible to reach the island by foot early in the morning for instance. Otherwise, you’d have to take a boat to get there. Unfortunately, the island was closed off when we were visiting so we only had a glimpse of it from afar. We then moved on to St. Ives, a really lovely harbour town. Since it was lunchtime and we were in Cornwall, a trip to a Cornish Pasty shop seemed to be pretty appropriate for a tourist like me (although I realised once I came back to London that the shop where I bought my pasty was part of a chain restaurant that existed in London as well – sad). Like many other regions of Cornwall, St. Ives has beautiful golden sandy beaches with clear blue water. The only downside was that it was really windy and the water was extremely cold so swimming there wasn’t really an option (although, people do come to other parts of Cornwall to surf). As a matter of fact, looking back at these pictures, I’m having a hard time understanding what on earth I was wearing. Initially, I thought that it would be warm so I packed shorts and tank tops with me but as it turned out, it was freezing the whole time. It was the worse when we arrived to Land’s End, where I felt like the wind could have pushed me over a cliff or something. I ended up wearing two coats and basically layering everything I had brought along for this trip. As we arrives at Land’s End in the afternoon, it was the perfect time to watch the sunset and it was possibly one of the best experiences of my life. Lying there, on top of a cliff, watching the sun slowly disappearing into the horizon… it was magical. You’d need witness it yourself to understand what I mean but that was definitely one of the highlight of this trip. Interesting Facts: Land’s End is the furthest point on the west of England (if that makes any sense) and that a scene in one of the James Bond instalment (I don’t remember which) was filmed there.
Day 3: Porthcurno Beach | Minack Theatre
On our last day, we went to Porthcurno Beach to visit the Minack Theatre. This is quite possibly the closest thing to paradise that you can get in the UK. The beach was so gorgeous but once again, it’s quite unfortunate that the water is so cold there. Otherwise, I could imagine myself staying there lying in the sun for the whole day! Well to be fair, amidst the fact that bathing there wasn’t really an option, I still wanted to just sit there the whole day and stare at this amazing scenery – if only we didn’t have to catch a train in the afternoon. Minack Theatre was quite an interesting place to visit as well. Although it looks like it was built by the greeks or romans during the antiquity, it was built in 1929 – which is fairly recent.
During our 3 days there, we managed to visit most of the major attractions but it was obviously not all that Cornwall had to offer. I would definitely recommend you to visit the area if you have the chance. I’ve been to a lot of places but this was possibly one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever been to. I went there right at the end of term time so it’s just a wonderful feeling be able to break away from the hectic environment in London and experience such beautiful scenery.
I’ve recently been to Edinburgh to visit my old friend from school and to see how the Scots celebrate new year’s eve. If I didn’t go to university in London, I would have been in Edinburgh instead so this trip has somehow allowed me to see how it would have been if I ended there instead. While in Edinburgh, I managed to take over 1500 pictures (on both my LX5 and Nikon D5100) – probably the most I’ve ever taken in such a short time! I was planning the go to Glasgow as well but ran short of time. The train left at exactly 19:00 and I actually got on it at 18:58 lol.
My first destination was the famous “Elephant House” tea house – aka. the birthplace of Harry Potter! The place was packed (mostly with tourists though)and was pretty cozy but there wasn’t anything really special about it to be fair. I guess most people went there because of its links with the Harry Potter series.Visiting one of the places where J.K. Rowling got inspired to write one of my favourite series of all time was pretty awesome. J.K. Rowling actually finished the last book in Edinburgh as well, but it was in the Balmoral hotel instead. I sort of agree with my friend’s remark about how blatant/reflective of her success it is that she started the HP series in a tea house and finished it in a 5-star hotel hehehe. During my stay there, it rained literally every single day – talk about real UK weather! Anyways, I didn’t know that Scotland had a different type of money although it has the same value as the usual British Pound… looks pretty much like monopoly money to me.
During my whole stay, they had a sort of “Winter Wonderland” set up on Princes Street, next to the Scot’s Monument. Whilst the site was pretty amazing, it was rather standard – not much different from the ones back in London, with the amusement rides and ice skating rink. On the plus side though, the food was yummy :) …
These pictures were taken when I was sort of touring the buildings of the University of Edinburgh. The building in the background is the McEwan Hall, where apparently some exams take place during term time and it is also where their Graduation ceremony will take place - pretty cool. Oh and I haven’t mentioned but their campus MASSIVE… they have like a building for everything… so jealous :(
Taking random picture in a graveyard – because it is obviously not a creepy thing to do! Actually, J.K. Rowling apparently got inspired by some of the names in this particular graveyard to create her HP characters. I didn’t manage to verify whether it was true or not but apparently, you can find the tomb of ‘Tom Riddle’ there. There was also the tomb of Scottish Poet/Actor William McGonagall – not sure if that’s got anything to do with Professor McGonagall’s name though!
We met this human statue guy on the Royal Mile and he was hilarious! At first, he didn’t talk so I just assumed that he was Scottish or something (tourist assumptions duh!) but then he opened his mouth and started talking with this really heavy russian accent that threw me off guard. He kept asking what songs can I hear with my earmuffs and was insisting that I got scammed because there ‘headphones’ did not work hahah.
I really really like the streets of Edinburgh. They have such an antique vibe to them – especially on the Royal Mile, which reminded me soo much about the streets in the ‘Old City’ of Geneva
Although it is located at the heart of the city, I only managed to see the Castle of Edinburgh during the last few days of my trip – however, I did not go inside because I didn’t have enough time but on hindsight, I wish I had entered the place. I honestly thought it was on top of some mountain or something but no, it was right there, at the end of the royal mile (duh!). My friend who goes to the University of Edinburgh told me that there was some sort of superstition, saying that if you enter the castle while you’re still in university (of Edinburgh that is), you won’t graduate! So maybe it was a good thing that I didn’t actually enter the castle? Not sure how that superstition originated but sounds rather crazy to me. The view from the hill where the castle is located was simply amazing. On one side, you could see the cultural old city and on the other side was the new part of town with the modern offices and buildings.
The National Museum of Scotland was a really fun place to visit. They had exhibitions that covered a wide range of topics: from historical artefacts to scientific innovations and then even dinosaur (moulded) skeletons! At the natural science display, they had this “Animal Weight-in” booth and apparently I weight as much as a “giant anteater”which is surprisingly less than a chimpanzee! My friend Tebe got offended because he got the “Harbour Porpoise” – which he thought was a whale but was in fact just a dolphin lol.
David Hume - I’m not sure what the story is exactly but apparently, if you kiss the statue’s toe, you will gain all of Hume’s knowledge. From what I’ve seen, Hume seems to be quite an important Scottish figure, considering the number of statues that he has around town.
This is the Heart of Midlothian – you’ll often see people spitting on the heart for good luck but apparently, it’s got something else to do with a prison and public execution… can’t remember exactly :p
There were a lot of other street performers/human statues along the Royal Mile. One fun thing about Edinburgh is that you can always expect to see someone playing the bagpipe on the Royal Mile every day. We saw this really funny looking one as well… And check out what’s written on that display… eww.
I had little time left in Edinburgh but still wanted to see the outskirts of Edinburgh – mainly the seaside and the canal. So as we left the museum, I ditched my friend who had to go back home, I headed towards Waverley Station on my own to hop on one of those sightseeing tour buses. The ticket prices are quite reasonable I guess. I paid like 14 Pounds for a 48 Hours ticket that allowed me to get onto 3 different buses… Although, the horrible weather defeated the purpose of going on an open-top double-decker (I did it anyways but it was really freezing and I was somehow worried that I would have damaged my camera :[ ). Every time that you got on the bus, they would give you a pair of really cheap headphones to plug-in and listen to the audio tour guide. Part of it was quite interesting by to be fair, I didn’t pay much attention to it – was too focused on taking pictures hehehe. I went on two different busses. One of them passed by the monuments and attractions in the central part of Edinburgh – this last picture shows the Burns Monument, commemorating Robert Burns, the author of Auld Lang Syne. The second bus that I got on was the one that passed by the coast and canal…
This place looked literally like the middle of nowhere. Even my friend who live in Edinburgh has never been there. It’s supposed to have some sort of cruise ship that is opened to the public to visit but it was unfortunately closed when I was there (not sure I would visit it anyways). I walked around for a bit and then realised that the bus that just dropped me off was the second to last bus of the day!!! Luckily I realised that in time and went back to the bus stop to catch the last one back to central Edinburgh…
The Holyrood Palace – This is the Royal Family’s official residence in Scotland. I only briefly went past it although I think it’s possible to visit the palace when the royals are not in town.
This is a pretty random/stalker-ish picture but I just HAD to share it. The picture doesn’t do justice but the juxtaposition of modern and traditional architecture makes this one of the coolest flats that I’ve ever seen!
I had a really great time exploring this foreign city – although I must say that Edinburgh turned out to be smaller than what I had imagined. By the end of my week there, I somehow knew all the main streets and touristic areas like the palm of my hand (yay for cheesy expression). Whilst it is a really lovely city and it is definitely a must see if you ever come to the UK, I don’t think that I would have preferred to go there for uni instead of London… what can I say? London is the best! That being said, I would definitely have to return there at one point because I still haven’t had the chance to visit the Castle and climb up Arthur’s Seat!
First off… HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!! I hope you all had an amazing time celebrating the arrival of 2012! I hope that you had as much fun as I did celebrating Christmas with your family and/or friends as well. Now, enough of the formalities. As I have mentioned earlier on, I was out of London for New Year’s Eve and as you might have guessed it from the title, I was indeed in Edinburgh! I will be posting pictures about my trip in general later on but at the moment I will recap on the most recent event!
The New Year’s celebrations in Edinburgh is called Hogmanay and spreads across 3 days surrounding New Year’s eve. On the 30th is the torchlight procession that starts from the Royal Mile and ends up at Calton Hill with a fireworks display, on the 31st is the Street Party in the city centre and on the 1st Jan is some sort of games and activity day. I only had the chance to take part in the Procession and the Street Party though but anyways, here’s my recap of the events!
The procession started at 6:30 from the parliament square on the Royal Mile. Torches were on sale for £7 each and go towards a charity. They were sold out pretty fast so I didn’t get the chance to buy any :(. The procession was pretty cool, it had a sort of medieval feel to it with all the torches. There was a marching band at the front and there was also music pumping along the way as well! It was a bit scary at first though… I thought that someone would eventually burn my earmuffs by accident! There was a massive turnout… Apparently there was up to 30000 people on the streets of Edinburgh that day to check out the procession. This was by far one of the most amazing experiences EVER! Felt a bit like a sort of weird cult though, with all these people gathering on top of a hill, welding torches and epic music playing in the background hahaha. I’ve also never seen fireworks from so close… It also came from all around the hill and not only from one single place so that was pretty cool. Definitely worth standing in the rain and wind for the whole night!
I genuinely thought that nothing could rival the New Year’s eve fireworks in London but this was a truly incredible experience… and it wasn’t even on New Year’s eve yet!! I would definitely recommend everyone to come to Edinburgh for the Hogmanay celebrations at least once in their life. You’ll just have to be prepared to stand in the cold and rain though, but the experience is definitely worth all the hassle. Oh and I forgot to mention, this event is absolutely free!
On New Year’s eve, Edinburgh’s city centre is closed down for a massive street party. The ticket costed £16.50 (15 + 1.50 admin fee) but you had access to a lot of performance stages. You could also purchase other types of tickets at a premium price that gave you access to the “Concert in The Gardens” and the “Keilidh”. The Keilidh is an area where traditional scottish music is played exclusively whereas the Cocent in the Gardens is a simply a larger performance arena. Last year KT Tunstall was playing there and this year they had Primal Scream.
That day, the weather was horrible, possibly the worse weather during my whole stay. It almost felt like a storm with all the rain and wind but at the end of the day, it was all worth it! I was at the Waverly Stage where William Douglas, Kassidy and… THE VACCINES were playing! AHHH. It’s pretty insane because before I actually went to Edinburgh, I had the Vaccine’s album playing on repeat in my playlist. I didn’t even know that they were going to perform at the Street Party until I actually got there so that was one AMAZING coincidence! That is why I decided to show up a bit earlier on and got a place in at the front. It wasn’t really crowded at the beginning but once the Vaccines got on stage by 11, people were going insane and crushing each other in order to reach the front. Can’t blame the crowd though, everyone was eagerly waiting for their performance (and to some extent, were less sober at that point). I went to check out Mark Ronson as well but at that point it was too crowded, couldn’t nudge in :(
I got this picture off their facebook tag application. Try to find me in this picture (Hint: I’m wearing white earmuffs)…
The first act was William Douglas from William Douglas and the Wheel, followed by Kassidy. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never actually heard about this band until I saw them at the concert but apparently they are pretty big. What I’ve got to say is that… OMG, they are amazing!!!! Their live performance was really really good! After I got back home, I decided to give their album Hope St a listen and it’s been put on replay all day long ever since. I’m really glad to be introduced to this band. I love every single song in their album. They had a pretty nice style as well. One of them was wearing a proper suit on stage! Their videos have an awesome vintage-y / indie vibe going on. Overall, I like! And then the Vaccines came on stage!!! I LOVED their performance!! They were soooo good live! Screamed my lungs out, singing along hahahaha! Although it was a bit uncomfortable standing in the crowd with all the drunken people and people trying to push you out to reach the front, it was all worth it! The performances were definitely the highlight of my New Year’s Eve. Whilst the performances were going on, there were also firework displays every hours as well. Throughout the whole night, the entire road from the stage to Prices Street was PACKED! In fact it was even pretty difficult to get my way out…
It was a pretty impressive experience, definitely recommended! This was such a memorable experience that it deserved a pot on its own! I will make a separate one for the touristy things I did while visiting Edinburgh. Hope everyone had a great time celebrating NYE as well. This concludes my first post of 2012. Usually, I don’t make new year’s resolutions because I often end up by forgetting about them… I mean who doesn’t? But I will try to make some effort to update this blog more regularly. Now, bring it on 2012!