During our 2-week trip to the UK, we stayed in a lot of hotels, and yet, one of the hotels that I really liked would have to be Mercure Warwickshire. After spending the whole day touring around Chester and Stratford upon Avon (blogging about that soon!), we headed to Mercure, which is just 8 miles from Shakespeare’s Birthplace.
The view from our hotel room. It overlooks the parking lot actually, but you can also see Walton Hall from here.
One of the places I’ve really taken a shine to when we went on our UK trip was Glasgow, particularly the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. Before our trip commenced, I already looked at all the sights and places that we were going to and even before seeing it in the flesh, I already knew that Kelvingrove was going to be a favourite of mine, and I was right!
My first glimpse of Kelvingrove.
From Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, we caught a glimpse of the University of Glasgow.
You may think that this is the front, but this is actually the back of the museum! A popular myth about Kelvingrove is that the building was built the wrong way, while another myth is that the architect committed suicide here by leaping from one of the towers. As most myths usually are, neither of the two is true. Way back in 1901, when Kelvingrove first opened its doors to the public, the main entrance was at the back as visitors came from Kelvingrove part, but fast forward to today, most visitors now enter from the main road located at Argyle Street.
I didn’t really expect to fall in love with Edinburgh – before the start of our trip, I thought that I would moon over London, but that wasn’t the case. Edinburgh was the first stop on our trip; as our flight arrived at 8 in the morning, we immediately got to explore Edinburgh, as well as made a quick stop at Rosslyn Chapel. We were only able to stay in this beautiful city for a day, but I think that we at least saw some of the important sights to be seen here like Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, and, of course, Edinburgh Castle. Too bad though that we weren’t able to go to the Elephant House, where Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, wrote the books while enjoying the cafe’s coffee and cake.
So as soon as our plane landed at Edinburgh Airport, after getting through customs we were fetched by our coach driver and we headed into the city to start our tour. We first fetched our guide, and then we were off to Rosslyn Chapel, which was quite a drive (around 30 minutes) from Edinburgh, and after staying there for a while, we drove back to the city, went to Calton Hill, and then had lunch. After lunch, we went to Holyrood Palace (which I’ll probably have a short post about it up sometime soon!) and then Edinburgh Castle – on the way, we were greeted by this.. This creature. Haha, I honestly don’t get what it’s supposed to be! 🙂
A shot of the castle I took while waiting for our tickets. The structure is massive! Images of Game of Thrones popped out unbidden in my mind when I finally saw it for the first time. It doesn’t help that Edinburgh Castle stands on Castle Rock – Castle Rock.. Casterly Rock? Lannisters! I don’t even know anymore, haha.
Madame Tussauds is a wax museum that has a lot of other branches in other parts of the world, although, the only other Madame Tussauds I’ve ever been to was the one they have in Hong Kong – but that was ages ago and I could barely remember our visit to be honest. Anyway, Madame Tussauds was included in our itinerary and it’s one of the attractions in London that we visited before we headed off to the airport and back home.
Fashion Week at Madame Tussauds. There’s also a makeshift runway in this part of the museum where you can have your photos taken. Anyway, a not so good photo of the wax figure of Kendall Jenner. 😀
Aside from the Big Ben and the iconic red telephone booths, one of the most famous icons of London would be the London Eye.
The London Eye, or also known as the Millennium Wheel, is a giant Ferris wheel located on the South Bank of the River Thames. Back in 1999, it was considered to be the world’s tallest Ferris wheel as it is 443 feet tall and the wheel has a diameter of 394 feet. Though these days it does not hold that title any longer, it still is Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, and according to its operators the Eye is still ‘the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel’, as unlike the taller wheels built in Singapore and Nanchang, it is supported by an A-frame on one side only.
On our first day in the UK, we visited various places, one being the Palace of Holyroodhouse, or what is more commonly known as the Holyrood Palace. It’s the official residence of the monarch whenever she comes to Edinburgh, and it has been the home of royalty for over 500 years.
The entrance to Holyrood Palace – we spotted Merida, haha!
Unicorn! The national animal of Scotland. 😀
Around less than an hour’s drive from Edinburgh, we arrived early in Glasgow. Our coach driver said we were lucky as according to him, there’s usually quite a traffic jam from Edinburgh to Glasgow.
We were off to a pretty early start, and we began our short walking tour at around 9 AM. The streets in Glasgow was almost deserted, save for a handful of people that crossed our path. I almost thought that this was the norm until we headed to George Square and there were tons of people everywhere.
If you love reading cheesy English period romance novels, then you’ve probably read of Gretna Green where heroines of these types of novels are often swept away by their suitors and would head off to Gretna Green – often this is done in haste, and in secret of course. Growing up, I’ve read a lot of these types of novels (Hello, Lisa Kleypas novels! I still vaguely remember a character called Daisy lol), and when I saw that Gretna Green was part of the places we were going to see during our trip to the UK, I have to admit that I was a tad bit excited to finally see the famous Gretna Green often mentioned in the really cheesy novels that I read years back!
This is one of the sculptures that you can see when you arrive at Gretna Green. It’s a 13 foot sculpture of clasped hands and its called the ‘Big Dance’. This can be found in the sculpture garden of the World Famous Blacksmith Shop. The meaning of the sculpture is more or less open to interpretation, but with Gretna Green being known for marriages, I think that most people would interpret it as the coming together of a couple. Well, this is how I see it anyway.
We spent one night at North Lakes Hotel & Spa when we were en-route to Windermere and then York. The place is cosy and I really like the facilities – at least what I glimpsed of it anyway. They have an indoor pool and I think it would be real nice to take a dip.
One of the most notable places that we visited during our short stay in Edinburgh would be Calton Hill. In fact, I think that out of all the sights that we’ve seen, it remains to be one of my favourite and I would definitely love to come back in the future! To go to Calton Hill, you have to first walk up there – but, trust me, the view from Calton Hill is worth the (short, but tiring haha!) climb!
I agree that if you want to see a good view of Edinburgh, you should head on to Calton Hill. This place is included in Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Calton Hill is also a choice venue for quite a number of events. For example, held every year on the 30th of April would be the Beltane Fire Festival, which is attended by over 12,000 people.