The wall: Travel and Edinburgh, June 11 – 14

We’re back at last from our trip to Britain, so it’s time for some show-and-tell.

On Saturday, June 11, we finished our preparations and headed to the airport. We’ve gotten rather good at this trans-Atlantic travel business, so apart from getting ready to walk 84 miles, our preparation was pretty routine: pack bags, eat up the perishable food, make sure all the windows are closed, etc. I can still remember travel days of panic and last minute shoving stuff I’d forgotten to pack into odd corners of my bag, but today was so quiet as to almost be boring.

Having checked some prices, it turned out to be cheaper to drive to the airport and use one of the commercial airport parking lots than to hire a car, so that’s what we did. The parking lot bus delivered us right to our terminal and we got checked in for our flight.

We flew Aer Lingus from Boston to Edinburgh, connecting in Shannon. We’re starting our trip with a few days in Edinburgh for my research and also to give us a few days to recover from jet lag before we start walking. By the time we arrived in Edinburgh, of course, we were pretty well exhausted. E. dozed a little on the plane, but I didn’t even try. I just don’t sleep on planes, so I don’t bother trying any more. We got the bus from the airport into the city and started dragging our luggage to our hotel, visions of pillows and blankets in our eyes.

Now, Edinburgh is a city built on hills. We knew this from visiting Edinburgh before, but thought we had our route to the hotel figured out. It turned out that what we thought was a crossroads where we could turn left was actually a bridge the road we wanted to turn onto was fifty feet below us. Still, we found our way there in the end and collapse for a few hours.

After a little sleep we got up to go find some dinner. The front desk clerk recommended a nearby place where we got excellent food and drink. We then promptly headed back to the hotel and went back to sleep.

When we woke up again it was in the wee hours of Monday morning. Our bodies were still adjusting to the time difference, so even though we were tired, neither of us could get back to sleep for a few hours. After that, we seemed to be pretty well adjusted to the time difference. I suppose it should be no surprise that our adjustment to British time seemed to go fast; we’re accustomed to adjust to Finnish time which is both a bigger time difference and a longer journey.

After breakfast that morning, we pulled on our hiking boots and went for a walk up Arthur’s Seat, a wonderful, wild bit of mountain in the midst of Edinburgh. The weather was windy and the clouds were low and gray, but we did not get rained on. We’ve been walking all spring to get in shape for walking the wall, but the Georgetown area is flat. Coping with the steep slopes of Arthur’s Seat was a challenge.

Looking up at the shoulder of Arthur's Seat

Yeah, we climbed that-- but not up those steps. We took a longer, gentler path

Looking back over Edinburgh

And we weren't the only people there, even on such a day

In the afternoon, we spent several hours in the National Museum where I wanted to check up on some artifacts. One large section of the museum is closed for major renovations, but the section where the Roman-period finds are displayed is still open so I was able to see what I wanted to.

I've been wanting a better picture of these for years (the one I took back when doing my dissertation was awfully blurry). They're called hippo-sandals-- temporary horseshoes designed to give better traction on snow and ice. Winter tires for your horse.

On Tuesday morning we made our travel arrangements for continuing on to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the next stage of our trip. Then we went back to the museum to meet up with Fraser Hunter, the curator for Iron Age and Roman archaeology whom I worked with a bit when doing my dissertation. We went to lunch together so he and I could chat and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time talking with him about my research, his research, and the state of the field in general.

In the evening we thought about going to see a movie. I got direction to a theatre from the hotel desk clerk, which ended up taking us to completely the wrong place. After getting very frustrated wandering around some run-down areas of town, we made our way back to the hotel and finally, with difficulty, got correction directions. We walked over to the theatre at last, only to find there was nothing playing that we wanted to see. Oh well. It was some more walking exercise for our legs before the big challenge.

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One Response to “The wall: Travel and Edinburgh, June 11 – 14”

  1. pj Says:

    Thanks so much for the travelogue. Dad and I also climbed up Arthur’s Seat. Such a treasure in that busy city. Mom

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