Saturday, October 9, 2010

North Berwick

Since we had a short stay in Scotland we decided not to travel by car. However, as a day excursion, we took a bus outside the city. The local tourist information recommended North Berwick. This was an hour-long ride on a local bus.

The town of North Berwick is located on the shore, on the north-east "corner" of the island. We arrived during low tide, and so went strolling on the beach.

We reached the local harbor, to see all the boats grounded. 

There were few small sailboats that were out to sea. To me this looked like a crazy thing to do in the autumn. But it seems that the local enjoyed it. They all wore special outfit that kept them dry and warm in water (I assume that the sea here is COLD).

We went on a path that took us to the rocky point at the tip of the harbor. The rocks here were covered with lichen and looked almost organic. 

Next to the harbor stands the Scottish Seabird Center. We decided to skip the inside exhibition and enjoy instead a coffee outside.
From North Berwick we took a 15 minute bus ride to Tantallon Castle. An old castle that served as the main residence of local lords. The castle is built on a small extension of a cliff, and so is protected by a sheer cliff-side in three directions. The land-facing direction is blocked by a massive wall that is seen for a far.

The castle is built from local soft rock. The idea was to make it able to absorb cannon balls without crumbling. The soft rock does not stand well to the wind and has been corroded in impressive shapes.

We went exploring all around the place.

Outside the castle stands a local dove-cot. It turns out that they grew large numbers of doves here as a source of food. 

Coming out of the castle we saw the bus go by from a far. And so we waited for the next one.

After an hour of waiting, we gave up on the bus, and started asking for rides. We got a ride to town from a nice fellow who was visiting the castle with his grandson. We were quite cold by now and stopped at a pub for a drink and something warm to eat. 

By now the tide was high, and all the beach was covered by waves. We decided to catch the bus back to Edinburgh and call it a day.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Edinburgh (part I)

I was invited to give a talk at workshop in Edinburgh. Yael joined me for for a long weekend together before the workshop.

We both been together in Edinburgh in 2001 (or was it 2000), and so we remembered the city. Yet, it was nice to spend some time away from the Israeli heat. Here we found cloudy sky and a nice chill. We enjoyed the old buildings and the small alleyways. 

The first day here, we stopped at a classic looking pub for a later afternoon meal. The place was a mix of local stopping after work or an afternoon of shopping, and few tourists like ourselves. I had haggis with neeps and tatties, which was surprisingly good. Yael had a more cautious fish & chips.  

On  the way home we passed a small cemetery.

The next day in the city was more art oriented. We went to the Fruitmarket Gallery, a very nice modern gallery with a bookstore and a cafe, and saw an exhibition by Martin Creed, a renowned young (ish) Scotish artist.  His works there included video art (which I did not connect with), a musical staircase and elevator (which was a nice gimmicky feel) and very abstract towers of objects.

We also got to see the underground of the old town, in a nice tour. They did not allow photographs, so we have to content with a picture of the guides dressed in period costumes.
We saw the obligatory windpipe player and few of the local monuments.

An interesting monument is for Greyfriars' Bobby. This was a small dog that came to sit on his owner's grave for 14 years, until he himself died and was burried next to him. There is a statue in memory of Bobby, and a bar on his name. The place is a central attraction for tourists (and dog owners).