A January 2003 trip
to Edinburgh by Drever
Quote: My first visit to Edinburgh was as a teenager when I attended a garden party at Holyrood Palace hosted by the Queen. Later I went to university there and I continue to visit.
During my university days I stayed within walking distance of Princess Street. I still like a stroll along Princes Street for it is among the most majestic streets in the world. It has the glorious Scott Monument, magnificent Edinburgh Castle, and the beautiful Princes Street Gardens. It is the perfect backdrop for a postcard picture.
For grandeur and nostalgia visit the Royal Yacht Brittania, retired from service and now moored at Leith Docks. Edinburgh also has the Scottish national art galleries and museum.
Edinburgh is also famous for its International Festival in August and for its street party in Princes Street to welcome in the New Year.
Edinburgh has a frequent rail link with Glasgow which also has many attractions so staying in Glasgow and visiting Edinburgh is an option when visiting Scotland.
Restaurant | "The Kings Bar"
It is a beautiful, traditional Edinburgh Victorian townhouse converted into a hotel. Like the other 19th-century buildings lining the street, this four-story hotel is built of regular blocks of honey-colored sandstone. It overlooks Bruntsfield Links--possibly the world's oldest golf course. Situated in a convenient location, the hotel is 2 kilometers south of the city center on the A702 road.
We were not after an elaborate meal, so we went to the Kings Bar. Its entrance is down a ramp from the front of the building. We managed to find a table for four after a slight reshuffle of tables. We were in a large, spacious room with wall-to-wall carpeting. The lighting was subdued, and the color scheme rather dull. Several youths were watching a football match on a large television occupying a space high up in a corner. Smoking was permitted, which is always a minus point in my view, as you come out stinking of smoke, not to mention the passive smoking aspect. The tables had cast-iron legs and frames with light oak tops. Seating tends to be of the upholstered bench type along the wall and comfortable upholstered chairs elsewhere.
The Kings Bar is open from 11am until late seven days a week, serving a wide range of Scottish and Irish beers, California wines, malt whiskies, and mixed drinks. Service is by placing your order at the bar, and it eventually arrives at your table. There is a good choice of sandwiches, panini, toasted croissants, coffees, starter and light dishes, main dishes, and sweets. It has become a point of humor with my family that whatever I order in a restaurant or bar always seems to be the smallest portion. So it was again. I ordered grilled salmon fillet, my wife breaded haddock, and my son and daughter vegetarian dishes. Seems I should have ordered a side dish of chips or something as well; however, all the dishes were nicely cooked. In restaurants, I always find it difficult to know what to order, for what turns up is a lottery. Order a soup for a starter and it may be an entire meal in itself, or perhaps not--who can tell? Anyway, I resolved the situation by following up with an order of a selection of Scottish cheeses served with date and walnut loaf and oatcakes. My son and daughter also had a sweet.
With drinks, the bill came to £37.7 sterling, which seemed a pretty good value. For further information, visit:
The Bruntsfield Hotel
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on January 5, 2003
69 Bruntsfield Pl.
0131 229 1393
The Playhouse, a short stroll down Leith Walk from Edinburgh's city center, seems small at first sight. This is because its interior descends the side of a gully (or ravine) and you go down into it. The subdued lighting and dark red color makes the interior gloomy. The theatre was designed as a variety theatre, modeled on the New York's Roxy Theater, and opened as a cinema in 1929. Refurbished in 1993 to its former glory, it's now one of the most successful theatres in Britain. It is the biggest in the country (capacity 3,056) and the large numbers squeeze and jostle to get in which makes it sometimes difficult to keep track of the rest of your group.
Because of its wide and deep stage, the theatre suites big production like Miss Siagon. With a cast of 44, a Cadillac, an on-stage helicopter, 375 costumes, and an 18-foot-high statue of Ho Chi Minh, Miss Saigon is a beast of a production.
The scene changes for the story are spectacular; presenter Cameron Mackintosh and his team have come up trumps. The 22 scene changes glide seamlessly together without a squeak as there's no clumsy set lifting. The whole thing is computerized and motorized so that Venetian blinds rise, helicopters drop, cars appear, and furniture slides sideways offstage as if by magic.
Set at the end of the Vietnam War, the story revolves around Kim, an Oriental woman left behind (like Madame Butterfly). Performances are up to scratch across-the-board, but Kim, played by Joanna Ampil, outshines the lot. Her voice is pure 24 carat quality. The other notable cast member is is the Engineer, Philippino, played by Leo Valdez with all the traits of the sleazy Saigon pimp. Valdez's stage presence has enough force to worm its way under the skin of the audience.
Interestingly, I saw the show performed on New York's Broadway during its final season. The Playhouse won on all counts--based on the response of the audience and the performance itself. The production was very enjoyable.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 5, 2003
18-22 Greenside Place
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 3AA
0131 524 3335
Attraction | "Museum of Scotland"
The museum contains the history of Scotland – the beginnings at level 0. The birth was protracted, stretching over millions of years. Six hundred and fifty million years ago icebergs in southern seas growled around and over Scotland. The rocks bear witness. Over geological time, continents drifted like iceflows - joining and breaking up. Gradually Scotland migrated northwards.
The Iapetus Ocean tossed and foamed between the continent containing Scotland (North America) and that containing England (Europe). The continents fatefully attracted each other. Moved closer they squeezed the ocean. In the Vanishing Ocean display, ocean floor mud squeezed by the continental drift thrusts upwards and forms the Border Hills between Scotland and England. Crumpling Scotland shows the shock wave from the collision with England and Wales throwing up the Caledonian Mountains. Their eroded remains form the Scottish Highlands.
Scotland and England reached and passed the equator - pity they couldn’t have stayed there! Rocks and fossils on display reflect the changing climate and landscapes. Early land and lake life includes underwater displays of Devonian times - today’s fossils appear again alive and swimming.
Volcanoes and tropical seas moves the clock to Carboniferous times - around 340 million years ago, when corals lived in the warm coastal seas. A fossil from then found in West Lothian, Scotland called Westlothiana is perhaps the earliest known reptile?
In Carboniferous times central Scotland gushed volcanic smoke and lava – beats our amateurish attempts at pollution! Eventually the lava broke down into fertile soil. Other legacies of the ancient landscapes are coal and oil. In the sections Tropical coal forests and the high lava plateaus their creations are explored.
Few creatures lived in the great Scottish desert of 260 million years ago, but one we know of is the extinct dicynodont.
In Jurassic times the sea flooded much of the land, as the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean formed. In the new seas swam ammonites, squid-like belemnites and plesiosaurs. Dinosaurs roamed the land.
The geological displays finish with the Ice Ages, which ended only a few thousand years ago. Huge glaciers scraped and gouged the landscape into the shapes we know today. But of course that's not the end of the story. Scotland's landscape is eroding and changing.
From the Museum's roof, the evidence of the truth of this tale can be seen. Several extinct volcanoes are visible, including Edinburgh Castle Rock and Arthur's Seat. To the south are the Border Hills formed by the collision between Scotland and England.
Recently mankind arrived and plundered the resources created and we arrive at the present day. I reflect, maybe we are at the starting point for another great drama called reach for the stars, or perhaps dead planet earth?
Entry is free so go along.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 11, 2003
National Museum of Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1JF
0300 123 6789
I had one of those!
I used to play with that!
We have one of those in the attic!
Squeals of pleasure and excitement rang around the five galleries--the children were noisy too! The Museum of Childhood is guaranteed to appeal to mums, dads, kids and skinflints - admission is free. It was the first of its kind when it opened in 1955.
It was a pioneering, imaginative and popular idea by an Edinburgh Councillor--surely not? The brainchild of Patrick Murray, it’s dedicated to the preservation, documentation and above all, celebration of childhood culture. It is a profusion of toys, games, comics, "penny arcade" machines, and displays about the health, education, clothing and upbringing of children through the ages. There are reproduction toys available for children to play with in games areas. It is a hugely enjoyable day out for kids of all ages.
The skills and patience needed to build some of the mechanical toys on display is breathtaking. I found it is fun to come across some of the amusements forgotten from my own childhood. I had a Meccano set which allowed me to build complex models. Meccano is a metal construction set consisting of nuts, bolts, strips, girders, brackets, wheels, axles, motors, gears and pulleys. It''s a kid’s toy and an adult hobby allowing construction of complex models like a two-meter tall working dockside crane. The ingenuity needed has given way to the less demanding Lego bricks, which clip together. I also made models of wooden construction from patterns supplied by "Hobbies" using a fretsaw. Boys in my day learned many skills from their toys. Being a big boy now, I have moved on to power tools.
Adults used to discard their childhood possessions. Collectors now prize items like action figures, model trains, and Fonzie dolls--and might take out second mortgage to buy an original "Barbie." This museum has played a role in recognizing the childhood experience as not just a step to adulthood but a significant and potent cultural influence.
Often, and favorably, described, as the noisiest museum in the world the Museum of Childhood is great fun for kids and those who were kids once. Go along and take great pleasure in pointing and saying "I had one of those." Gifts and items about childhood can be bought from a shop in the foyer.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on January 28, 2003
Museum of Childhood
42 High Street
Edinburgh, Scotland EH1 1TQ
+44 131 529 4142
Ayr, United Kingdom