Trip to Scotland – Touring Edinburgh

This was really our first day in Edinburgh, and so we decided to do all the main tourist-ey stuff. We planned on getting ourselves on one of those Hop On-Hop Off (HOHO) open-top tour buses that promised to take you to all the destinations worth visiting in a city. We had already decided that we were going to visit the main attraction, the Castle of Edinburgh, the next day, so we could spend most part of the day revelling in its splendour without any time crunches. So today was for visiting museums and generally going around the city on the bus and hopping off at any place that seemed appealing.

 

The HOHO Bus

The HOHO Bus



We woke up relatively early (which probably owed to the fact that the B&B we were staying at closed breakfast at 9:00am sharp, and then what we would have gotten for breakfast would be bread-butter sandwiches to go). They had the usual British Breakfast – hash brown, eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, beans and cereal, with juice. And of course English tea. We had a nice hearty meal and then went right back up to get our act together, taking a shower, getting ready etc. But since it was only 9:30 am, you can’t blame us for taking our time and doing all the above leisurely. You see, that’s where we made the mistake, because in this laid-back, leisurely manner of ours, we took much too long to get dressed, and so we could finally make a move only around 11:30am.

Ready to explore on a rainy day

Ready to explore on a rainy day

Anyhow, post leaving we made our way to the closest HOHO stop from our place. It was just a little way down the road from Regent’s Pub. The tour bus came at intervals of 20 minutes. We rushed to the stop, and waited for about 15 minutes, clicking pictures and all when I noticed something interesting – a little way down the road I saw a rather large bus with the English football team’s crest/ FA badge made pretty prominently on it. I went close to it to check it out and upon asking the driver of the bus (the only being in it) my suspicions were confirmed – that was the actual English Football team’s bus in front of me!

The English Football Team Bus!

The English Football Team Bus!

 

Now, the peculiarity was that, for one, the English Football Team was currently playing the Euro’s, and second, this was Edinburgh, SCOTLAND. But I ended up convincing myself that this was actually the real deal and it may be here only for servicing or something, and got all excited over it anyways. I clicked a gazillion pictures of the bus from all angles (other than top and bottom, which I was pretty disappointed about too), and I generally stood there marvelling at it, thinking thoughts like ‘Gerrard, Lampard, Terry etc. have sat just a few feet away from where I was standing’. Then I heard my dad calling out to me – our tour bus had come. We bought ourselves the family ticket that was valid for 24 hours and made our way to the upper open-top area of the bus.

 

View from the HOHO

View from the HOHO

There was a guide there taking us through all the sights in the city as we drove through. I thought to myself, what a job, driving through such a beautiful city, and generally just talking about it and getting paid for that, amazing…….

Anyway, as advised by the helpful bartender at Regent’s Pub, we decided to take one full round on the bus first before hopping off anywhere, so that we had an idea of what all was there to see, and generally what was exciting and what wasn’t.

 

City sights

City sights

 

We crossed the Scottish parliament building, whose modern design and architecture have evoked a lot of debate. Some people love it while others dislike it. There is a design element/structure on the outer wall – a series of “trigger panels”, constructed out of timber or granite.  The men say it looks like a gun, while women say its a hair dryer. The designer’s widow, however, revealed after the opening of the building that the design is simply that of a window curtain pulled back.

 

Guns or Hair Dryers

Guns or Hair Dryers

After a full-round on the bus we finally decided to get off at this place our guide had gotten us all giddy about called ‘Dynamic Earth’. He told us how it was like ‘taking a walk through the ages’ and how it was a must-see destination for all of us tourists in Edinburgh. So we and a bunch of other people got off at the stop for Dynamic Earth.

 

Dynamic Earth Exhibit

Dynamic Earth Exhibit

 

It was supposed to be a half-hour, interactive trip through the ages. The stuff that they told was relevant, but the charm of it, the interactive part, wasn’t really up there. It had been opened some 6 years back, and well, I doubt the technology has been updated since. It took you through the Big Bang, the dinosaurs, the ice age, evolution etc., but to be honest, I had expected much more.

 

The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland

 

Anyhow, we got back out of there by lunch-time, so post walking back to the HOHO bus stop, we got out the sandwiches we had made for our trip, ate a quick lunch and made plans for the rest of the day while waiting for the bus to pick us up. Since it was already lunch-time and everything stayed open only till about 5, we realised we could only do one more thing for the day. We decided that it was going to be the National Museum of Scotland, so we got on the bus and headed there. It was near about closing time, so we decided to make the most of what we had.

The Grand Gallery

The Grand Gallery

 

The National Museum of Scotland was formed by the merger of the modern Museum of Scotland (completed in 1998), and the neighbouring Royal Museum (built between 1861 and 1888).

The place was huge; there was a Grand Gallery, which was like an atrium, with balconies of 2 floors looking down into it. The central space of the Grand Gallery contained a variety of objects.

There was a huge canoe-like wooden exhibit. We all tried to guess what it could be as we approached it. It turned out to be a vessel!

What shall we serve in this..

What shall we serve in this..

 

There were a series of galleries on either side of the Grand Gallery, housing exhibits of world culture and history. The ‘Discoveries’ section had clocks of various shapes and sizes. The show stopper was The Millennium Clock – it was in the form of a medieval cathedral, standing just over ten meters high, with open sides so that we could see the machinery. It is supposed to be a summary of the best and worst of the twentieth century. The clock is intricately animated and has four sections, each signifying something. You could go a floor above to see the top.

The Millennium Clock

The Millennium Clock

 

We had reached at the hour (5:00 pm), and it seemed that all the parts were moving – the wheels, the gears meshing into one another, bells, chains, bronze figures dancing and going about doing something. There was a huge crowd around this exhibit, which dispersed soon after the song-and-dance was over.

 

Scottish Aviation Bulldog

Scottish Aviation Bulldog

Further on, there was a Scottish Aviation Bulldog light aircraft ‘stuck’ in the structure of the ceiling space. I just hoped it wouldn’t get dislodged as I stood below it, looking at the underbelly.

There was a section called ‘Window on the World’ – UK’s largest single museum installation, which was about 3-4 floors high.

We also learnt that Brisbane was the name of a Major-General – Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, who had a convict settlement named after him, which became today’s city of Brisbane.

Part of 'Window on the World'

Part of ‘Window on the World’

 

We made our way to the Ground floor, and halfway through our exploration something rather unexpected happened – an alarm went off! At first none of us realised what was happening, but within seconds we had security personnel clearing us out of the building. Doors to the various exhibit rooms started closing automatically, and within 3 minutes flat the huge building had been vacated.

We hung around outside hoping to get back in once whatever it was had been resolved. However, after some time we gave it up and came back to our HOHO stop. It was past closing time for all other sights, and since there was nothing else for us to do there we decided to proceed homewards (okay, in this case, hotelwards). We walked the long walk home, stopping to take pictures and marvelling at the town’s splendour and architecture.

The walk back

The walk back

 

We eventually reached the hotel, ate a quick home-made dinner of sandwiches & soup, and watched some TV before nodding off at about 10 pm, after a long and tiring day in Edinburgh.

12 Comments

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Thank you Shubham for the lovely pictures and brilliant narration.

    I liked the idea of not deboarding the HOHO bus. Actually I liked the idea of never deboarding the HOHO, that in itself would be a good tour.

    Also share the cost details of HOHO.

    • Shubham says:

      Thank you Sir.
      The tickets cost about 28 all around, 10 each for mom and dad and 8 for me(it was so for children below 16)
      Regards

  • ashok sharma says:

    shubham,congrats for such a beautifully narrated story.you are really a keen observer.beautiful photos.

  • D.L.Narayan says:

    Q. What is the second best thing to spotting a team bus full of English footballers?
    A. The team bus without the players inside it :-)

    Jokes apart, thanks for the guided tour of Edinburgh. Have you ever considered becoming a tour guide? You would excel in that profession too…Oh to be young and have the entire world waiting for you to conquer it……Talking of jokes, the HOHO bus sounds jovial in a Santa Claus sort of way. Or maybe even Long John Silver….do you recall the song “Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest, yo-ho-ho and a bottle of red bull….well not redbull but I think you ge the drift.

    Thanks for the info that a penal colony named after a General grew up to become Brisbane. Didn’t know that, so you have made my day (I think that a day is wasted if one doesn’t learn something new).

  • Nice post Shubham, detailed & informative too.
    All these places are in my wishlist too, so thank you for this virtual tour.
    You have captured the city beautifully through your lens and liked the England Football Team’s bus…it must be a delight for an Arsenal fan…(me, an ardent fan of Manchester United…but like EPL & Spanish League…and Barcelona / Napoli when God was playing long time back)

  • rajiv says:

    Dear “Buttu”
    Over all a very goood narration.
    A couple of points for introspection:
    1The narrative becomes a bit repetitive sometimes..eg.”OK hotel words not homewards,”this cliche has been used much too often and then perhaps loosing its edge..
    2.great style in conveying some off-beat info,like Gen Brisbane’s name..(i new it as I lived in Brisbane…but probably not many more would know;))and would love to absorb these details.
    3.
    U have tried to make it humorous sometimes .work on that aspect more..and without referring to your mausi etc in it..eventually these travelogues may become international reading and you would not want people to keep wondering what the ^%&$## is ‘mausi’?

    In all 4 out of 5 stars
    Well done
    I am a bit old fashioned cannot mark you *****
    love u
    Rajiv

  • Monics says:

    Hi Shubham…
    Scotland revisited…..
    Great going…you are improving with each new post of yours!
    Keep it up..help us to have a virtual tour of many places in future..
    Looking forward to your future posts :-)
    All the best,
    Monics

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