Thomas Gongol
March 19, 2015

So this is the first of two or three blogs related to our half-term break trip to Scotland. Scotland might now be my new favourite place in the UK. It's windy and chill and overcast but then again so is London, and Scotland doesn't feel quite as modern. Friday morning we took the train up to Edinburgh and that alone was a trip filled with beautiful sights and landscapes - rolling hills, forests, small towns, larger towns, cliffs overlooking the oceans and Berwick-Upon-Tweed which I've made a mental note to go back to. After arriving in Edinburgh we made our way to the hostel, which admittedly was very nice but at the bottom of a hill I must have walked up ten or so times in the day and a half we were there. My complaints about moderate physical activity aside, we then left the hostel to take a walking tour with a great tour guide (Euan?-he pronounced it Ewan like Ewan McGreggor) that brought us all over the city. We saw the school that JK Rowling based Hogwarts off of as well as the Cafe (The Elephant House) that she first outlined the HP books. Euan even took us to the grave site of Tom Riddle and mentioned Peter Pettigrew was buried there as well. After indulging the more devout Harry Potter fans among the group he proceeded to tell us all about the violent and storied past of Scotland and this is one of those times having a tour guide makes all the difference in visiting a city for a short period of time.

That night after being convinced we were getting a great deal on a "rare" whiskey that you can only find in Scotland (she charged us £40 for what was £28 online, probably our fault for admitting we knew nothing about whiskey - she was nice and gave us some free testers though so maybe the extra £12 was for "atmosphere") a group of us went out to Maggie Dixons; A quaint little pub named after a girl who allegedly was hanged back in the day and died, but then somehow... undied. A short time after we arrived we accidently sort of joined a stag do (read bachelor party) for our now good buddy Dean who had met his fiance four months ago on Tinder (who says you can't find true love on Tinder)  and whose same fiance had "accidentally" not gotten him his passport back in time for his actual stag do in Dusseldorf (to which his actual friends were quite angry about). 

The next morning (although at 5:30am is it really morning yet) a group of us decided it would be a ton of fun to climb Arthur's Seat, the large rock outcropping overlooking the city from the base of the Royal Mile. While it was brutally windy it was definitely worth it and the view of the city was the 2nd best I'd had that weekend. We made it back to the Hostel for breakfast and then went to Edinburgh Castle, I won't go into detail about that but it was interesting and castle-y and worth visiting. However and more importantly lastly the hidden gem of Edinburgh was Calton Hill and the Nelson Monument. You can see in a couple of the shots below the view from Calton Hill and the Nelson Monument (the lighthouse-looking structure. The Monument itself only costs £4 and I couldn't give it a higher reccommendation. The only downside is you have to climb something like 140 steps up a spiral staircase (the worst kind of all staircases) but the view is more than worth it. You get this incredible 360 degree panoramic view of the city that you really can't beat. 

In summary: Scotland (specifically Edinburgh) go, enjoy, visit the Nelson Monument, avoid going to the hive. 

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Thomas Gongol

<p>Hey everyone! My name is Tommy Gongol, I&#39;m a Junior at Penn State. I&#39;m spending my spring 2015 in London with IES and am going to be documenting my semester with photos and videos. A little about myself, I&#39;m a finance major but am interested in the business side of film and television, I am on the club frisbee team and in a business fraternity while at school. With what little free time I have left I love taking pictures and making videos.</p>

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