Straight after visiting Venice, I wanted to book another adventure for May. Already at this point, I had 2 Comic-Con tables booked for May, as well as a trip to Paris. So, obviously this was a pretty busy month! For an introvert, I have to say I'm not use to hectic months like what I had planned in the manic month of May. Obviously, I didn't want to book any more flights for a while, so I opted for a different form of travel; using trains to get around the whole of Scotland. Well, when I say the 'whole' of Scotland, I mean all the important bits I could afford.
It took a bit of time planning out the 4 day adventure around the Scottish country, but I managed to cram in as much as I could in the short amount of time I spent there. Honestly though, I was quite proud of the planning I put forward, as at this point my planning was going quite well for these solo adventures around the world!
First of all, I had to catch a train from Liverpool Lime Street to Glasgow. This proved harder than I thought, since the tickets (I bought in advance) were completely valid up until 2 hours before the train was intended to depart. Annoyingly, the train was cancelled just as I was leaving the house. A lot of swear words were floating within my head at this moment, but I was thankfully able to catch a train afterwards. Sadly, part of my plan included spending half a day in Glasgow, since it seemed like a pretty interesting city, with resemblance to Liverpool. The train (I eventually travelled on) delayed my plans by 3 hours, but what can you do, eh?
Upon arriving in Glasgow, I was instantly hit with 'Liverpool vibes'. This is possibly due to the fact I was immediately introduced to the high street area, the proceeded to walk along the waterfront. Anyway, going back a bit, I originally had a time booked for a cityscape view from a nearby tower (as part of some science centre), but I missed my slot and had to organise a refund. Shame, as I'd have loved to see the city from a high vantage point, so instead, I walked around the shops and enjoyed the bustling hill of buskers, shoppers and tourists alike along Buchanan Street. I always enjoy hearing live music being played in public; always adds a welcoming presence to the local area.
Of the shops available, the majority were the typical chains you'd expect to see in most places up north. You've got your North Face, Starbucks, and obligatory Apple store as well, along with the expectedly rich collection of shops for women's fashion. I swear, it never ends. Even Venice was all about women's stores. Does annoy me how little shops are dedicated to men. The main catch (for me) was the buskers, and the fact the street was on a long hill, leading to some pretty cool shots within the city. Overall, a rather chill atmosphere, but too familiar, and not particularly a reason to spend my time while there.
If I wanted to find something quirky, I'd have to walk a bit out of the main shopping zone. As a result, I bumped into a shop more tuned for me. Ah yes, of course a shop named; Tokyo Toys attracted me, being a sucker for anything Japanese myself, so I just had to stroll in. I don't know why I even do this to myself, since I always know what to expect, being; anime stuff I don't understand, the mandatory Pokemon stock and card games I don't have any interest in (unless it sparks my childhood memories of collecting Yu-Gi-Oh! cards). Maybe it's the variety of colours and weirdness of the stock I like? Who knows. But to be fair, this was a pretty well stocked shop, and I'd have bought stuff, but I had to move on quickly to my next destination. Also, there was a queue of nerds and furries with a pretty gnarly smell I didn't want to join.
Anyway, I only had enough time to walk along the river before my next train to Edinburgh was ready to depart. The waterfront was actually really lovely, and pleasant to walk along. If I lived near Glasgow, I'd happily cycle here most mornings. My walk was short, but appreciated.
Arriving In Edinburgh
At this point it was about 2pm, and the heat was still at its highest, but I had to check in to my hotel to drop off my bags (which were really getting on my nerves). I have to say, the fact I'm stubborn enough to find ways to fit everything I need in one bag is ludicrous. But... hey, that's me lol. The main reason I didn't want to bring a suit case was because there'd be some hours I'd be without a hotel, and it was kinda important to keep everything in a travel bag.
Anyway, upon arrival at the hotel (which was just outside the main area of the city), I was perplexed by the weird entrance they had. The front door would only open if you had 2 keys. One was an actual key, the other was a key card. Weird shit. I found my way in by just ringing the bell, as I heard the large clunks of metal behind the (rather) thick wooden door, as if there was a ferocious, locked up 3 headed dog behind I'd have to quickly use my wizardly skill to defeat. Nah, something much scarier was behind these foreboding doors. Instead, there was THE RECEPTION. Okay, that wasn't scary, but I'm talking about what/ who was TO THE LEFT of the reception... none other than an elderly gentleman. Yeah, this shanty hotel was giving off serious Faulty Towers vibes, and the elderly gentleman even (heavily) resembled the Major, who is one of my favourite characters from the show.
However, this knock off got on my nerves. Don't get me wrong, he was sweet, but as I was trying to check in, he was polite at first; by asking me how I was and where I came from. But, I was unsure if he actually worked there or not. By the way the receptionist was reacting, she seemed sick of him, but still put on a smile, like he was difficult to get rid of. I was juggling between 2 conversations, and as he asked where I was from, with my solemn response being; The Wirral, which is always a sequence of letters I hate muttering, because it's normally easier to respond with; Liverpool, but I was pretty tired and just responded honestly, which was a big mistake. This humble old man swiftly recognised the Wirral and proceeded to tell me his life story, while I was also listening to the hotel rules form the receptionist. 10 minutes passed, and I eventually got my keys, after also learning about his life story. Apparently, he wa born during the Second World War, smuggled to Norway, Denmark, Norway again, Sweden, Norway again, through Paris, to Tranmere (on the Wirral), to Canada, then to Felixstowe, then all over Scotland, to Tranmere again, then back to Scotland. I probably missed a few steps there, but look at what I bloody remembered! Anyway, strange man, but my introverted mind just wanted to collapse on the bed.
Innocent Railway Tunnel
Before reaching the foot of the hill, there was an interesting tunnel I wanted to explore. The former railway tunnel has been converted into a cyclist route, or rather a shortcut. It's pretty cool and featured plenty of graffiti artwork all the way down the tunnel.
After a brief break, I mustered enough strength to make the most of the sunny day and hike up to the summit of Arthur's Seat. A task and a half on a 30 degree (centigrade) day. After walking through a few delightfully looking parks, I found my way to the foot of the large hill. I must say, it's really cool to have a hill like this so close to the city, as I was expecting to get some great shots of Edinburgh from the height the summit offered. There were 3 starting points, each offering a different difficulty, but I deceived to follow the slobbish Americans up the easy route. Somehow, I lost them. Their agility was actually remarkable, and put me to shame.
The walk up to the summit of this ancient volcano (yeah that's right) didn't take too long. About 40 minutes really, but I was stopping frequently to take plenty of pictures. So I imagine it would have been quicker otherwise. I'd seriously recommend trying this short hike, except there's one snag to the climb that annoyed me. Tourists. Goddamn tourists. Yes, I know I'm one too, but there was a bloody queue at the top, and all I wanted was to sit down and take a few pictures, then leave. But these (different) American youths were taking forever capturing 'Instagram shots' of each other either at the cairn or information dial, then there'd be couples snogging (while sitting on the edges), making my photography task harder. I hate people. I mean, I did visit during the Summer, after Britain was open to all tourism (post COVID), so that explains the busyness, but shut up.
Eventually, I managed to get the panoramic shots I wanted, plus extra. To be honest, the Americans were happy to be in the spotlight (typically) and allowed me to get a few shots of them next to the cairn. They were nice, but still American and annoying. Took me about an hour to get the shots of the Cairn I wanted, but my patience was rewarded. I even made friends with one of the birds there. An actual bird, not a woman. Sad face. But also not sad face.
Travelling down the hill was possibly more fun than going up it, since my back wasn't to the amazing views of Edinburgh. Honestly though, the weather was perfect that day, and the whole city was visible. Thankfully, my B600 was able to zoom in on the iconic buildings Edinburgh held. This helped me gather perspective, since my next task was to walk through the main area; back to my crippled hotel. Even I was crippled after this, but I still found the effort to order a cheeky McDonalds. I'll never change.
This was the end to my first day in Scotland, but I have to point out how weird the hotel room was. I normally don't mind paying for cheap rooms, and expecting to get what I paid for, but I've never quite seen a hotel room with removable wall panels before, especially when they're intended to be moved to block light from the windows, almost like curtains. Just weird. But, it was only for one night.
When I was organising this Scottish adventure, I definitely tried to make the most time talk walk around the capital. Of course I had to. But I could only fit in enough attractions to fit before 2pm, so I pretty much had to wake up early, which I'm really not good at. Some may say; terrible. An yet, I managed to anyway! After checking out, I walked up to a hidden, quaint village area which looked as if it desperately wanted to be on a postcard.
It was blissfully quiet along here, which I thoroughly enjoyed, so I was able to get all the shots I wanted. I just love the old fashioned buildings here, and the connection to nature the village has. You wouldn't think this was a 15 minute walk from the city centre. Even in the rain, the village looked awesome.
The Vennel Viewpoint
I didn't have time to visit Edinburgh Castle itself (sadly), so as a compromise, I thought it'd be just as cool capture various shots of the castle form different angles. Months before I'd visit, I'd see random TikTok videos of cool places to take photos around the city. One of them would be this viewpoint, high is just a series of stairs, but I was able to see the castle from a unique point of view from here. Honestly, I spent a good 20 minutes here just taking what I could, and there was no one around to ruin it!
The great thing about Edinburgh Castle is that it reminds me of a 'final boss' area from a video game, like; The Legend Of Zelda's Hyrule Castle, or Bowser's Castle from Super Mario games, due to the fact it's located in the centre of the city and is high up. Dunno, just gives me that vibe, and I kinda like it for that.
Again, TikTok guided me to this next area, which was thankfully just around the corner from the viewpoint. Victoria Street is a short, curved street with quirky shops and an 'old fashioned' feel to the aesthetic. I imagine the street would look amazing at Christmas time, whereas I visited here during the summer. Even so, the street still had its charm and offered some great opportunities for fun photos. I think the rain helped enhance some shots.
The street can be viewed from a higher vantage point, with Cafés existing on the higher walkway. I recommend walking up there to get the best photos, then visiting in the morning (to avoid traffic on the road).
Sadly, I only had enough time to visit one shop, and I was thankful to find one amazing looking shop that caught my eye immediately. That being, the best shop to find Harry Potter merchandise in Edinburgh!
Museum Context: Retailer Of Harry Potter Merchandise
Now, this shop is definitely worth visiting if you're a fan of Harry Potter. The staff were definitely fans, as they all looked the same and spoke similarly. It's easy to identify female Harry Potter fans. Don't ask how, it just is. They looked like all my female friends who are fans of Harry Potter.
I was among the first to enter (as the shop was opening), but there were a few others who were just as eager to visit too. The first room was cramped, but was chocked full of merchandise and decorations alike. Although it felt like a bit much, it all added to the charm of the place. However, it was also hard to understand what was for sale and what wasn't. I'd be looking at an item, then there'd be no price on it. Then again, the first room's main attraction was the large collection of high quality replica wands to gawk at. These all looked amazing, and each came in their own personalised box, but I couldn't recognise most of the character's names (the wands belonged to), so I felt a bit lost when trying to admire them. For £45 though, I can see them being worthy collector's items for those who are big fans of the franchise.
The floor above was also small, but featured merchandise more tailored to general use. For instance, I'd find pens, notebooks, badges and toys up here, which I also recognised from my own retail store I work at. Because of that, not everything felt unique. And yet, I still bought a few Hufflepuff badges to decorate my travel bag with.
The main thing I enjoyed was the amount of love and care that went into designing this 2 floor shop. I'd find the Chamber Of Secrets mirror, a cabinet holding the love potion and other trinkets all over the place, so it's easy to spend a decent half hour in here just admiring the shop's charm alone. I certainly did.
The National Museum Of Scotland
Finally, I get to talk about this incredible Scottish attraction. This is possibly the best museum I've ever visited. Hands down. Thankfully, it was free to enter and easy to navigate around the massive building. I hate paying for stuff. It's not just me is it? Anyway, the main hub area was incredible to walk within, as it offered many different ways to get around the place. I chose to visit the technology side of the museum first, of course, and take a look at the technological wonders from the past and present.
While here, I made friends with a man who was fascinated by the robotic arm on display. This robot was built to use wooden blocks (with letters on) to spell anything you typed into the nearby touch-screen keyboard. Of course, my initial idea was to type some swear words and have a cheeky giggle, but the robot was too smart for me, and already blocked any form of profanity. Boring. But my new friend did find a way to confuse it, as it was unable to spell Edinburgh some times. Not too smart after all, robot scum. How ironic.
I think I visited the dinosaur/ animal section of the museum next, directly opposite. The T-Rex skeleton was placed right in front of the door and made for an amazing introduction to the section. Not to mention, the large mix of animals and dinosaur models added to the collective charm of the whole exhibit. Honestly, whoever designed this section had an eye for design. I think the ground floor to this section was lacking in stuff to read about, but it's mainly there for the kids to enjoy (I think).
The upper floors all consisted of circular walkways which allowed us to view the lower levels easily, while also hanging extra animals (above the already existing ground floor animals) for us to be amazed at. This section of the museum offered a lot of great photo opportunities, although I hate how the play sections were placed on the opposite ends of some of my photos, which could have potentially portrayed me as a pedo if some idiot mum thought I was taking pics of their kids.
Honestly, it's a constant worry I have that that'll happen one day, because so many attractions build children's play areas nearby nowadays. During my West Yorkshire trip (last year), I was taking a picture of Victoria Tower and some parents let their large group of kids free to run around it, but then some of them accused me of taking pictures of them just because they happened to photobomb the pictures I was trying to angle for. I honestly hate it, it's really difficult to do these photo adventures at times. Like, I spend a lot of money and time trying to do this, and lots of idiotic kids (and mums) are now raised to think every man is a pedo if they have a camera. It's like the lower percentage of bad men represent most men now, and it is really quite sad. But anyway, ranting aside, as long as I can focus on the positives of my adventures, I can find great enjoyment in the attractions I do find and hopefully get some cool shots.
The rest of the museum took about an hour to (quickly) walk around. I'm not one to stop and read everything, because my memory is so bad anyway, so it'd be a waste of time. On the other hand, something has to truly interest me to grab my attention. I'm more of a visual learner, so something has to grip me visually first. The Italian history section will always interest me, since it relates to Assassin's Creed and can genuinely be artistically intriguing. Check out my Venice Travel Blog Post to read about Doge's Palace and other cool stuff, for instance. Also, technology will always win me over, as I'm a nerdy tech guy, so I could spend a good while checking the facts with what's written. Equally, space exhibitions interest me just as much, given it's also about using technology, but to advance our knowledge of existence itself off world. I guess in one way, you could judge me by saying I take more interest in 'things', as opposed to 'people'.
In the end, I spent about 2 hours walking about, but I imagine anyone with more time than I had could easily spend a day walking about and learning all there is available. I'd be here forever if I write about every section, but my top 3 parts to visit would have to be; Technology, Animals/ Dinosaurs, and Fashion Over The Ages.