Thursday, January 28, 2010

Edinburgh - 24th July 2009

I am 25 years old and I don’t like the dark. So of course, it seemed like a great idea to do a spooky underground ghost tour. I have now been down in the Edinburgh vaults and I will never be doing a ghost tour ever again. I have never been so scared in my life (aside from the London Jack the Ripper tour. I just don’t learn).
While I was terrified, Gill was looking around in the most nonchalant manner, which was fair enough considering we were simply walking through some rooms with nothing but a bunch of freaked out tourists and a local with a flashlight.
We also took a day tour to Loch Ness so that I could hunt monsters. I didn’t manage to get any photographic evidence (therefore I also didn’t pick up the million Euro prize), but I did take lots of photos of surface ripples that could have been caused by a strong tail (or a boat). The tour guide was pretty great, cracking bad jokes and telling us good stories. Gill and I particularly liked hearing the song Cod Liver Oil & Orange Juice for the first time.
After we got back to Edinburgh we went on the 3D Loch Ness Experience. Please don’t waste your money. It’s the worst tourist attraction in the world. Gill will never stop giving me crap about it, and fair enough too. It’s rated as a four star (out of five) visitor attraction by the Scottish tourism board. It’s the lamest 3D movie in the world.
In contrast Edinburgh Castle was terrific fun. I particularly liked Mons Meg as I do love a good siege cannon. Aside from the cannon, the audio guide was pretty good, and it was worth paying for.
All in all I really enjoyed what little I saw of Scotland. Beautiful country.

Istanbul - 26 Jun 2009

Happy new year!
We're going back in time.

Istanbul is a gem. It’s such a lovely city, and when we were there it was fantastically warm. It was a quick trip but everything is so close together we managed to see almost everything in just three days.
We went to some amazing places. My favourite was the Basilica Cistern which was eerily beautiful, and considering the heat, wonderfully cool. Drops of water sporadically splashed down upon us, just enough to add to the atmosphere and make me jump. Carp swim around in the cistern, and some of them have grown HUGE. Apparently, before the cistern was re-discovered, people would lower buckets into holes in their basements and bring up water and on occasion, carp.
Topkapı Palace was enormous. Once again, the heat made the day a little difficult, but the clear skies made for some spectacular views. I got to view what is said to be the Prophet Muhammad's cloak and sword, some amazing Ottoman art, and a huge horde of diamonds. The crowds were tough going sometimes, but to see such treasure was worth it.
I got some lovely jewellery from the Grand Bazaar, which was chaotic but fun. Thousands of stalls all crowded together with spices , lamps and jewellery and all sorts of crazy things. Gill and I agreed to meet up with my parents out the front, only we failed to realise that there were 7 front gates! Of course it’s much cheaper to buy jewellery from the street, but it’s just not as much fun.
There is just too much to write about Istanbul. The beautiful Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque were also stunning, and there is absolutely no way I can do them justice here. Photos will have to suffice.
Istanbul was so absurdly impressive that I’ll be going back in February.
This has nothing to do with anything, but for some reason, there are a lot of stray cats just wandering around. Kittens were everywhere. Poor Gill even had to save a tiny one from being run over as it had decided that the road was an excellent place for a nap.
He wouldn’t let me keep it.