The Importance of Staycations Part Two: Edinburgh and Canterbury

Part Two

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND

Duration of trip:
Two nights, which was a good amount of time to cover the main bases but nowhere near enough. Then again, I’m probably biased as I wish I could spend my entire summer in Edinburgh especially with the Fringe Festival occurring in August!!

Attractions:
Edinburgh Castle, Scottish Parliament, Holyrood Palace, The Scottish National Gallery and the Scott Monument. We also went on the Hop on Hop off bus (so cheesy, but I love to do this in every city just to get a feel for the layout and also because it provides you with free transportation around a place for 24-48 hours)

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Scott Monument
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Edinburgh Castle

Luckily, Faye lives right next to Carlton Hill, so on our second day we were able to have access to an amazing panoramic view over Edinburgh and observe Arthur’s Seat without having to physically climb it in our fragile and hungover state. It also contains the National Monument of Scotland, which makes it easy to see why Edinburgh is often dubbed the Athens of the North.

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View of Arthur’s Seat
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View from Carlton Hill
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My way of appreciating the National Scottish Monument while hungover


Food & Drink:

We mostly ate at home, but we did have an amazing fondue at the Chocolate Lounge in Harvey Nicholls.

The mixed fondue from the Chocolate Lounge
The mixed fondue from the Chocolate Lounge
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Cocktail menu at Bramble

We also had some delicious drinks at a cute underground cocktail bar called Bramble which had an intimate ambience and a great DJ.


CANTERBURY, ENGLAND

Duration of trip:
We used my house in Kent as a base, and visited just for the day. For tourists, I’d say two nights is sufficient enough.

Attractions:
Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey, Eastbridge Hospital. If you have time, the historic river tour is charming, especially during the summer. Not only had I never visited the aforementioned attractions, despite living 20 minutes away, I’d barely noticed them at all. I’d walked past them on several occasions, blissfully ignorant and engrossed in shopping or on night out. Of course, I’d appreciate the architecture but never more than briefly acknowledging it in a blasé fashion before moving swiftly on. I had no idea that Canterbury was host to a UNESCO world heritage site.

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St Augustine’s Abbey
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Canterbury Cathedral
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My little history buff Alisa in her element
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The sky looking like a painting

There was an especially poignant sculpture in Canterbury Cathedral adeptly located hanging above the original crypt of Thomas Becket. ‘Transport’ by Antony Gormley takes the shape of an outline of a body and is made from iron nails that were taken from the repaired roof of the Cathedral itself.

“The body is less a thing than a place. A location where things happen. Thought, feeling, memory and anticipation filter through it sometimes sticking but mostly passing on, like us in this great Cathedral with its centuries of building, adaption, extension and all the thoughts, feeling and prayers that have had and transmitted here…We are all the temporary inhabitants of a body, it is our house, instrument and medium. Through it all come impressions of a wider world and all other bodies in space, palpable, perceivable and imaginable.” – Gormley

The comparison of the body to a location, and in particular a house, reminded me of part of Warsan Shire’s* poem, ‘The House’:

‘Mother says there are locked rooms inside all women,
kitchen of lust, bedroom of grief, bathroom of apathy.
Sometimes the men they come with keys,
and sometimes the men they come with hammers.’

Transport by Antony Gormley. Image Credit: Gareth Fuller/PR Wire

Food & Drink:
We went to GBK for something quick and easy. Other restaurants that I’ve visited before that I’d definitely recommend include: Cafe de Amis, The Pound, Club Burrito and Cafe du Soleil. We didn’t have time for drinks, but good places to go out are The Cuban, Chemistry, The Ballroom and of course, the Spoons.

Loving life in Spoons
Loving life in Spoons

*If you don’t know who Warsan Shire is, then you are missing out. It’s her poetry that is featured in Beyoncé’s Lemonade and she is quite simply a goddess. Look her up immediately. You’re welcome.

The Importance of Staycations: Bath and Glasgow

While I have been lucky enough to travel abroad from a young age, I haven’t spent much time exploring my own country. I didn’t appreciate England because it was home terrain. I was much more interested in going to exotic, far-flung destinations. A few years ago, my dad invited me along on a trip to the Lake District and I rejected, assuming it would be boring. I definitely regretted that when I realized just how picturesque it is. Due to my parents separation, I’ve grown up splitting my time between London and Kent. The best of both worlds: a seaside town during the week and the city on the weekend. Like a stereotypical ignorant Londoner, I presumed that this was everything I needed and there was not much else to see in the rest of the country. However, in the past couple of years I have completely altered my attitude. It was when I was forced to visit other cities for university open days that I realized what the rest of the UK had to offer and how much I’d been missing out. I am so lucky to have not only England, but also Scotland, Wales and Ireland right on my doorstep. In wake of moving to Shanghai at the end of August for a year abroad and the possible break-up of the UK post-Brexit, I have decided to try to spend as much of my spare time as I can this summer sampling various cities around the UK.

I took the first of these trips last week and traveled to Bath, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Bath and Edinburgh are both UNESCO world heritage sites and I am so lucky that two of my close friends live in two of the most beautiful cities in the UK, and were kind enough to host me and act as my tour guides. I’ve always thought that I want to eventually settle in London, but this trip has definitely changed my mind and made me consider other possibilities. I was also able to host one of my friends when she came to visit me in Kent (although I’m embarrassed to admit that most tourist excursions we embarked on were also new to me). 

BATH, ENGLAND

Duration of trip:
I spent four nights here, and thought that this was definitely enough to cover all of the main attractions. However, due to the large number of museums and other things to do in Bath, you could easily spend a week here.

Attractions:
Bath Abbey, The CircusThe Roman Baths (go in the evening to beat the queues and crowds, when the Baths are also lit up), Pulteney Bridge, the Jane Austen Centre, 1 Royal Crescent and Royal Victoria Park.

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Bath Abbey
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Bath Abbey
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Roman Baths with view of the Abbey in the background
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Learning the language of fans in the Jane Austen Centre
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Entertaining Tasha in exchange for being a great tour guide at 1 Royal Crescent

Food and Drink: 
We had Afternoon Tea at The Regency Tea Room which can be found above the Jane Austen Centre.

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We had dinner one evening at Hall & Woodhouse which also has a beautiful rooftop bar and grabbed some ice cream from the Real Italian Ice Cream Company.

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We had relaxed drinks at Turtle Bay (go for 2for1 cocktails during happy hours 6-7 or 9-10pm) or alternatively, some great nightclubs include The Second Bridge, Zero Zero and Po Na Na.


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND

Duration of trip:
One night which definitely was not enough, I’d say at least another night was needed, if not two.

Attractions:
I only had time to go to The Gallery of Modern Art, George Square, and the Glasgow Cathedral. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is meant to be amazing and is definitely at the top of my list for my next trip.

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Gallery of Modern Art

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Food & Drink:
Went to Ashton Lane in the West End, which is strewn with quirky bars. 
Dinner was at Ubiquitous Chip which was delightful. Being in Scotland, I thought it was only right to try the vegetarian haggis to start, followed by the charred asparagus.

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Afterwards, we had some drinks at Vodka Wodka opposite the restaurant, and were really impressed with the quality of the cocktails and how reasonably priced they were.

To be continued…