It was another calm day and the train ride, which is billed as the most
beautiful in Scotland, was very very nice. The train from Inverness to
Edinburgh was overcrowded and uncomfortable. The trains have all been
privitized in Britain and almost everyone hates it. The fares have gone
up, service is terrible and the new seats (in new cars with far more
seats crammed in) are very cheap and uncomfortable. I found that the
privitization of the rails (and of most everything else) was by far the
number one topic of discussion in England, on the street, in the
newspapers and everywhere else. And I did not hear, read, or speak to a
single person who was in favor of it. Tony Blair has a big hill to climb
for that next election -- and he's already begging people to support him
despite his record!!
We met Justin again in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a very beautiful city and
we wandered rather aimlessly for a long time that evening -- and had a
good vegetarian Indian meal. One nice thing about travelling with
Justin... we kept talking about the wonderful Total Eclipse that we had
seen and the fact that the next one is in 2001 in Southern Africa, so we
have planned a trip to see that one and hopefully Justin will be able to
show us around Africa a bit!!!
The next day we saw the sights of Edinburgh, Carlton Hill with the view
of the whole city, and the main streets. And, of course, the Castle.
The Castle is huge and imposing, hanging over the city on an extinct
volcano in the center of town. We walked up to and around it, I know
my mother will be disappointed, but we didn't go in -- it was far too
expensive and we didn't have the time or the interest. We WERE however,
fascinated by the big process of dismantling the ultra-modern, modular
temporary stadium that sits in front of the castle during the summer.
And Justin bumped into someone he knew from South Africa at the Castle!
We also found a number of really nice organic food stores! We even bought
some vegetarian haggis! AAAAG!
Then we walked off into a very old part of town, Dean Village, along the
river, where the wheat mills, and bakeries used to be. It was very
comfortable and vibrant. I really liked it, it was the best part of a
really beautiful city. We did not have time to learn about what the city
and the people are really like, that will have to wait for another time,
but it was a very pleasant place. We didn't really plan to go there at all,
but I'm glad we took the day there, both to see the nice city and to take
it slow back to London. The culture shock from Raasay to London would've
been rough! That evening we took the train back to London. And we ate the
veggie haggis! It was not bad, but very weird!
The following day, we ran some errands in London. I looked at small
laptop computers in the windows of the electronic shops. Some are almost
affordable. I have been really missing my computer and the ability to write
(as this epic missive will attest to!) and I have been unable to write with
a pen, so I haven't been keeping a journal... I hate the thought of
travelling with a laptop, even a small one, and all the equipment that goes
with it, but I may just have to do that in the future. oh well.
That afternoon we took the train to Dover, which turned out to be kind of
a sleazy town, the hostel was like a fortress! In the morning we did take
in the castle and the white cliffs from a distance, but we decided it was
prudent to take an early ferry. That turned out to be a very good idea
because when we arrived in Belgium we discovered there was a train strike!
We had to get to Amsterdam somehow! But there were no trains scheduled;
occasionally one would be announced and would leave soon after, but we
couldn't plan. We bought a ticket (which it turned out we didn't need --
a bit of wasted money!) and just got on the first train that left. We
kept getting off and getting on trains, getting a bit closer each time,
until we finally got to Brussels where the international trains were still
running. It was not as dramatic as it sounds, mostly it was just waiting.
But every once in a while we had the feeling that this was one of THOSE
experiences that we would talk about!