Monday, August 12, 2013

Winding Down-The Last Three Days (9, 10 , 11)

Friday, August 9, 2013
 The MOST Awesome Group Picture!

On Friday we had an early start. We didn't even have a class discussion in the morning! We had an all day bus tour to the Scottish Highlands, which included seeing Castles, and Loch Lamond! The Highlands area is very sparsely populated with magnificent mountain ranges that dominate the region. The highest mountain that we saw far in the distance was Ben Nevis. 


Our expert driver suggested we by pass the more tourist visited stop and make our way further into the hills.  Dunn Castle was our first stop.  You may recognize this location as where Monty Python filmed many of their movies here including Life of Brian and The Search for the Holy Grail.  It is really special when you walk up close to one of these buildings as they tower above you.  Many of the castles in the area have been destroyed or have fallen into disrepair. To be able to see what is left of this castle was fascinating. It also felt good to get out and stretch our legs, and wander in the deep green grass that was full of the morning dew. The higher the elevation, the cooler the air.  
On our way to the next castle, we had such breathtaking views. Having lived in Florida for so long, one would have never imagined the impact that seeing such beautiful mountainous areas would have on you. I think I can speak for everyone and say that it was so gorgeous! It was not too sunny and it was not too foggy to see all the beauty Scotland had to offer for us that day.Waterfalls traveled through the mountain ravine, and sheep and shaggy Highland cows grazed along the road. Did I mention that they drive on the opposite side of the road here, and that they drive really, really fast? In a full size tour bus, it is pretty wild!


Our next castle was the Inveraray Castle. It was so much bigger than the first. We got to go inside and see the amazing decor. The Argyle family recently built this Castle, and 1/2 of it is open for public viewing. 

Photo Surprisingly this castle is a home to a Duke! It was amazing to know we were walking around a Duke's home. There were was so much to see. We saw the living areas and even some of the grand clothes that they would wear.

After a busy day looking at castles, we stopped by this area where the sunlight hit just right and had one of the most magnificent views we have seen all day. It was the village of Loch Lamond. It looked like a fairy tale. 

We arrived back in Edinburgh about 6 pm, and had time to eat and fall asleep, along with filling out personal reviews of some of the many plays we had seen. It was a great break from the the hustle and bustle of London, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. No meeting in the morning meant a late night visit to a local Pub or 2 to dance and sing with the locals for those in the group who had the energy to keep going!

  Saturday, August 10, 2013
The Countdown Begins

Saturday arrived in a blink of an eye and everyone realized that we only had two more days in Edinburgh, Scotland. The previous night the group was informed that there would be no morning meeting. This of course was greeted with a smile since it meant that we would be able to sleep in a little longer than usual.
After a late night the girls from room 501 woke up early enough to enjoy the few hours that we had left in Scotland. Eusyher, Mary, and I headed to the box office in order to grab some tickets for Peter Pan. Since we were early we decided to get a bite to eat at a nearby restaurant before the show started. Itchycoo was our destination that morning.  
"Coo" means cow.
It was a nice small meal that really hit the spot. Afterward we headed to see Peter Pan (the line consisted of mostly families). The play was very simple and geared toward children, but it brought back a lot of childhood memories for us as well. Having the choice of choosing whether Peter stayed in Neverland or returned to England was a nice twist as well. Of course he stayed in Neverland since the children wanted it that way. After Peter Pan we headed back to the hostel and picked up Elizabeth and Molly. After they were ready we headed off to watch The Mayday’s: Confessions. Since we arrived right on time we did not get a chance to include our confessions, but the rest of the audience did. The actors were amazing! They read a confession and just took off with it. Their reaction time and ability to come up with something off the top of their heads was just admirable. After Confessions we had plan to head back to the hostel and do some journaling, but we were pulled into a magic/comedy show. I wasn’t too up for that idea, but the show ended up being pretty decent. Some of his tricks were simple, however, he was very good at delivering them and he also appealed to the audiences emotions. Through the show he described his childhood and how magic helped him get through the tougher periods of his life and of course the girls in the audience pitied him. After the show we grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the castle.

Edinburgh Castle
Unfortunately since it was later in the day some of the locations in the castle were closed already so we decided to leave it until the next day. Afterward we looked around at some shops and then headed to meet the group to catch Metamorphosis. 
The walk was not that long and when we got there we had a chance to get some ice cream. This one person play is a world premier adaptation of a Franz Kafka story about a young man who imagines himself as if he were turned into a bug. Performed in Mandarin with English subtitles on side screens, the production was available from the International Art Festival that was running at the same time as the Fringe. This was another opportunity for our group to experience a different cultural concept of Theater.  The play was intense and extremely eye stimulating. Many Taiwanese dignitaries us joined for this grand performance.  After the show we had a brief discussion, and then off grab a late bite to eat. Our night ended early and we headed to bed so that we could be up for our 9 A.M meeting.
Planning is an integral part of moving smoothly from one place to another. after our meeting, Susan headed to the Fringe box office to secure her tickets to Blam! Being a popular show, it was always a good idea to identify the show that you wanted to watch, and get in line early so not to miss out. Waiting in a long line is a fun pass time. Visiting with folks from all over the world while online is a great way to find out where to go and what to do!  After 20 minutes in line, the tickets were safely secured for what was supposed to be a particularly exciting show. She headed down the hill to the Waverley train station  check out the tickets for her anticipated  next day's excursion to North Berwick, a small coastal town about 30 minutes by train from Edinburgh.   
Waverly Station
After having done this she walked back up the winding hill to one of the Fringe's main venues, the Pleasance.  At Pleasance many people gather to meet and discuss the best and worst plays that they have scene. There are picnic tables for eating, and comfortable leather chairs under tents to sip a pint of Cider, and say hello to a new friend. The Cider is cold , and there are lots of yummy places to get food.  Once the show was over, she grabbed a cab across town to  meet up with the rest of the group to see the world premier of  Metamorphosis.

Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013 

The entrance to the Fringe before the crowds gather.

The last full day in brings a lot of mixed feelings. Happy to be getting ready to go home, and many feelings about never wanting to leave. Sunday’s brief meeting provided last instructions on our 3:30 am departure. Yikes! Time to get organized, and pack up for our trip home to the U. S. . Most grabbed tickets for the Edinburgh Castle. We decided to spend an hour and half there just to explore.

 It was amazing and so massive! After the castle and many photos we headed to Camara Obscura! It had four floors of illusions and fun! We ended up spending a good amount of time there just looking around and taking pictures.

 Live moving images projected onto a viewing table through a giant periscope.

After that fun adventure we grabbed a bite to eat at Scooby Doo and then headed off to do some last minute shopping. Since there was no central shopping market as in London,  it was harder to find good items for a cheap price. After shopping we headed to the hostel to just relax a bit before we headed to see Blam! Kind of like watching The Office on steroids, the characters in Blam transform, not only themselves, but the entire stage from a mild mannered office to a full blown super heroes action show. Wow! 
There is so much to do and see in this action packed period of 2 weeks, that sometimes a side trip may be necessary. Susan had the privilege of traveling by train to North Berwick, which is about 1/2 hour away. Traveling through the country side is lovely with rolling hills and farm land  with grazing sheep and cows. Nestled on the Firth of Forth it is a pleasant seaside village. The firth, opens up and heads out into the North Sea. This was the home to the Open Golf Tournament just a few weeks before. The winds were brisk, but the sun was warm. One can also go to venues there, as the Fringe has expanded out to the seashore. Not much was happening that day, but there were many tourists walking the beach visiting local pubs and shops.

The tides range up to 12- 20 feet, so there is lots of sand to walk along when the tide is out. Boats take visitors out for bird watching on an out island. The waters are quite chilly, so not many bathers, but the air is clear, and on that day, quite blue. Locals say that it gets very stormy, and the waves crash over the break water. That would be worth returning to see.

Boats sit lazily in the mud with their masts clanging in the wind as they wait for the sea to return and bring them back afloat.
 Stone vacation homes line the side walks, and smaller village cottages rest in a row, with cobblestones and flowers welcoming visitors and camera buffs alike. 

Fish and Chips are in order. Or you can order the Sunday special of Roast Beef and Yorkshire pudding at the Golfer's Restaurant. But a and a pint of Carlsberg must accompany whatever you decide. After doing a bit more wondering, a local tea room is a welcome last stop for a piece of Victoria cake and fresh sponge cake filled with cream and jam.

Bright paintings line the gallery, with fresh made hand soaps and scented bags filled with lavender to take away on the way out.

 Our very last venue was a dinner show, Faulty Towers.

A Monte Python type performance within the dinner setting, it was not what we expected at all!  Dinner rolls were tossed baseball style and guests were put out on the street. It was just hilarious and brilliant!  What a fantastic way to end our trip. Thank you!
Enjoying our last hours in Edinburgh we headed to the hostel in order to pack and get ready for the next day of pure traveling. 
Team Authors:  Elizabeth Hernandez, Maria Bustamante, Susan Burhoe

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