Thursday, May 28, 2009

April 7th - From Fallkirk to Perth

Falkirk Wheel

The next morning we found our way with difficulties (still in Falkirk!) to the Falkirk Wheel where remains of a Roman Fort was supposed to be found. Well, we found the wheel, but not the Roman Fort... Not the we didn't try! We walked quite a bit, but because the weather wasn't sunny and warm enough for a morning walk, we decided to concentrate on the castles to be seen instead.


Our next stop brought us to Culross town, picturesque located at the banks of the Firth of Forth. We walked past the 16th century castle which was closed and strolled through the gardens instead.

We then walked up the hill to the Cistercian Abbey built in 1217. The western part was in ruins, but cemetary and church were well-kept. Returning downhills, we found the old market place. Maybe, because it was a quiet weekday and nobody, except a handful of tourists, was out on the streets, strolling through the city felt like walking back in time.


Around lunchtime we reached Dunfermline to visit the famous abbey and palace, both close to each other. It was quite warm, we were hungry and at least me, I was on painkiller, thanks to a murderous headache. Nevertheless, we decided to view abbey and palace first, before they went on a one-hour lunchbreak.
The Benedictine abbey built in the 12th century had beautiful columns in the Romanesque style.

We then rushed into Dunfermline palace. Most of the southern walls are still standing, the rest is in ruins. And the cellars were quite impressing as well.

Balvaird Castle

This castle is located in the middle of nowhere, so that we had to climb over fences to get there (which of course increased the joy of exploring it). Originally only existing of the tower house, the castle was extended in later years. We met two locals who were very astonished to meet us as no-one normally goes there...

Elcho Castle

This late 16th century castle was built with as Z-plan tower house. It gets a little confusing when you try to make your way through all the rooms on the 2 floors, especially when the staircases are that small! However, we succeeded in finding the way to the top and walked around the rooftop to a small servants room. The views over the river Tay is very enjoyable.

Hunting Tower Castle

This castle seems to be pretty popular for weddings and allowed us the second rooftop walk this day. It consits of 2 towers, the West and the Eastern Tower, both connected by a small infill allowing to walk from the 1st floor of one tower to the first floor of the second tower. As the 2nd and 3rd floor are not connected, we were forced to explore one tower and rooftop walk at a time. In the West Tower there are also beautiful traces of wall paintings.

After this last stop, we directly went to our lodge close to Perth which was cozy enough to be called a nice holiday apartment.

April 6th - Blackness and Linlithgow

The next day we left early and full of expectation returning to the airport to pick up our car at 11am. We arrived, but the car was not there. We had to wait almost 2 hours. I think we took it equanimously, but the German lady with her husband went mental and threatened the people behind and in front of the check-point. Absolutely pointless, because the other car hiring companies obviously had stolen the cars and rented them to their customers. Nothing these poor bastards could do about...

We finally took off and drove to Blackness Castle, beautifully located on a river.

We continued our tour north to Linlithgow town; unfortunately, the beautiful church was closed, but the palace was waiting to be explored. The weather was a little dizzy, still, the beauty of this Renaissance palace remained undisturbed.

We drove to Falkirk, tried to find the Antonian Wall, but wasn't very lucky. We found only a nice mansion. And, by the way, Falkirk was a horrible town that tested my navigational abilities and our patience. Our map was not the best, good for long distance, but not for towns or whatsoever, so we had to follow the street signs which were highly confusing. Falkirk was our labyrinth, we managed to escape.
And we were quite happy about or motel room. First motel night ever. Kind of creepy, these plastic rooms and bathrooms...

Trip to Scotland - April 5th thru 19th

April 5th - Edinburgh

We arrived relatively late in Edinburgh city and tried to check-in in our hostel, but the beds were not ready, or let's put it right, the bed sheets had to be washed and because it was the weekend before Easter, the whole hostel was fully booked. We left our suitcases in the room (two French guys were already asleep) and left again, strolled through the city and had our dinner in front of the church watching tour guides at their work.
When returning, our sheets were still not ready and we had to wait in the lobby. Finally, around 11pm we could return to our beds, dress them up and go asleep. We tried to be quiet, to not switch on the lights for too long. But only minutes after we finally had laid down, the guys got up, dressed and went out for partying. So we started chatting. Two Australian girls came in, and we shared our amusement about the guys.
Not to forget!, we met an American lady in the bathroom who informed us that the only hot shower was ours, under the roof. She said that this was the worst hostel ever and she and her family had loved the one they stayed at in Berlin.
Well, to be honest, this was not the worst hostel we were to stay at on our journey through Scotland, but we didn't feel to much encouraged by her either...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Aran Islands 29-03-09

The second day on the islands started less sunny, in fact it was rainy and windy, so we were stuck inside. Not very pleasant indeed. Especially as I haven't seen the stone fort again. Some of the people at the hostel were not that nice a company altogehter. I tried to have a walk, but it was too cold and wet, I returned.

A little after lunch time, it was less rainy, so we went to a pub to have a coffee. And while we were waiting for the ferry to come, it became sunny again. We left and walked the same direction as I had done the night before.

All to soon it was time to return to the ferry and back to Dublin.

Aran Islands 28-03-09

After having stayed overnight in Galway, we took the morning ferry to the Aran Islands. This time it was sunny. I have to say I was excited to go there. This time we didn't take bikes, but started to walk.

We took a wrong turn and then, in order to get back on track, we started wall climbing. Not so funny, especially when these walls are only made of loose stones and when some horses watch you. We felt a little under pressure, but it was worth the wait. We found our way to the Lighthouse which is also on the highest spot of the island. Because it is closed during the summer months, we couldn't have our lunch break there, so we returned back to the main road and, because the others were kind of exhausted, we returned back to town.

Suprisingly enough, we found a lot of chicken, cows and cats, but no sheeps.

While the others returned to the hostel to chill, I walked in the other direction to watch the sunset.