The Forth Bridge

Apr 26, 2008

If you google cheap eats in Edinburgh, you'll get a huge list of pubs, greasy spoons and restaurants. So it was there I found the Whetherspoon pubs. Our first Whetherspoon meal was in Edinburgh, fish and chips for 2.99, coffee or tea included. It was good, even my kids, who despise fish, liked it. It was also in one of the Whetherspoons that we had our first English breakfast. I tried black pudding for the first time, and must say it's delicious. Although blood sausage is a Croatian specialty as well, these two have nothing in common, but color, of course.

Anyway, it was after this fish and chips lunch that we left Edinburgh. Our first stop on the way to Glasgow was a little town of South Queensferry, famous for two beautiful bridges that cross the River Forth. One is the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964, and the other, more beautiful, is the Forth Rail Bridge, built in 1890. The latter is one of the most remarkable engineering wonders of the Victorian era, with its 2.5 km in length and 100.6 m at its highest point. More than 4,600 workers were employed in its construction, more than 5,000 tons of steel and more than 6.5 million rivets were used to make it. Riveting, isn't it?

The famous saying "It's like painting the Forth Bridge" means: "If repairing or improving something is like painting the Forth Bridge, it takes such a long time that by the time you have finished doing it, you have to start again.", as stated in The Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms.


Apr 15, 2008

Here I go with some things that you can find in any travel book, but it's the teacher in me, and I can't help it.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, lies on the east coast of Scotland. With a population of about half a million, it is the second most visited tourist attraction in Great Britain (after London). It's famous for the arts, especially in the summer when it hosts the renowned three-week Edinburgh International Festival, which was first started in 1947. It'd be great to come to Edinburgh at this time of year, since there are performances all around the town, not only in its theatres, but also on its streets. The Fringe is an alternative festival, started in the same year, when eight theatrical groups gate crashed the Edinburgh International Festival. What they wanted was to express their belief in freedom of expression in innovative and experimental performances. Today there are more than 40 Fringes around the world.

Princes Street, the main thoroughfare and a very nice shopping street, clearly divides the city into the Old and the New Town. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is absolutely amazing. The city's medieval history can be seen on the Royal Mile, a mile-long street that links the Castle with the Holyroodhouse, the Queen's official residence in Scotland.

Standing upon a volcanic rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city's skyline. The original fortress, Din Eidyn, was built in the sixth century by King Edwin - hence the city's name. In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, or the Stone of Scone, was brought back to Scotland after 700 hundreds years. In 1296 it was seized by the English and brought to Westminster, where it was fitted into a chair on which most of the British monarchs were crowned. Today it is on display in the Castle, together with jewelery and other royal paraphernalia, such as crown, scepter and sword, which are also called regalia.

The New Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. It was built after 1767 and it contains the finest examples of Georgian architecture and city planning.

Edinburgh, here we come

Apr 14, 2008

Entering Scotland wasn't as glamorous as we expected and hoped it to be. There was no visitor center, no lay-by, no nothing. So we just stopped on the shoulder to take a quick photo of the signpost welcoming you to Scotland.

The road to Edinburgh took us by surprise, since it was just an ordinary country road. Somehow we missed the turn to Roslin, where we wanted to see Rosslyn Chapel, which we first heard of in Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. However, we weren't too disappointed since: a) it was already dark; b) the chapel was closed; c) the admission was too high.

Soon we saw the lights of this city that I would find one of the most arresting I have ever been to. Our hotel, the Express Holiday Inn, was located in a beautiful old building in the very centre. Parking was dear, but it was worth it. Zoran and I couldn't resist and see the city by night despite the freezing cold. It was stunning and we couldn't wait till morning to see Edinburgh in all its glory and beauty.

The Lake District

Apr 10, 2008

I'm really sorry I didn't manage to take a photo of one of the fields of daffodils in the Lake District. The one I uploaded in the previous post is nothing special, but it's the only one I have.

Anyway, the Lake District was fantastic. We stopped in Winderemere, such a picturesque little town. We strolled along its streets on a sunny afternoon and later we drove to the lake. Stunning! We enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

On our way further north, Google Earth suggested taking a scenic route. So we did and regretted it after only five miles. The road was not only getting steeper, but also narrower, in fact too narrow for our huge seven-seater. The twigs near the road started brushing the car, the hills in front of us suddenly became so uninviting, the sky darkened and there was sleet every now and then. Mladen and I wanted Zoran to turn back and take the proper road, so we nagged at him all the time. Poor Zoran stopped the car at something that we could call a lay-by and there we discussed what to do. Zoran and Sanja were for going on since there were so many cars on the road going in the same direction, so we gave up. Later, when the road got a bit bigger with little villages, nice lakes and fields of daffodils, we were relieved and laughed about our fear and uneasiness.

The Lakes

Apr 5, 2008

I wander'd lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

William Wordsworth, 1804


Apr 3, 2008

It was good we were in Manchester on Easter Monday, a bank holiday in England. Almost everything was closed at 9 a.m, the streets were empty and we found a parking space easily.

The dreamy city center seemed beautiful, with its amazing mixture of old and modern architectural styles. Its magnificent Town Hall was built in 1877 in an English Gothic style. Inside, there is a statue of General Agricola, the Roman who founded a settlement called Mancunium in AD 79. (Hence the people from Manchester are called Mancunians.) On the other side, there is the ultramodern Urbis, a ski slope-shaped building made of glass. In between, the old Royal Exchange and the new Arndale Shopping Centre.

Another area worth seeing is Salford Quays. It was also revitalized in the 1990s and today it comprises the Lowry Centre, an arts and entertainment complex, the Lowry Outlet Centre, the Manchester United Museum and the most striking building of all, the Imperial War Museum. Designed by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind, it represents a globe shattered by conflict. I must confess, though, that it didn't look as magnificent in broad daylight, as it did in my travel book, where there is a stunning photograph of the museum at night. Not far from there is the largest shopping mall I have ever been to, the Trafford Centre, with 230 shops and 10,000 free parking spaces. The two hours that we spent there, were a mere drop in the bucket, but we gave up on our worldly interests in order to admire the splendid country of Wordsworth's daffodils.
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