Wednesday, November 16, 2011


After driving for two days, we finally passed into Scotland. (Actually we had crossed the boarder the night before, staying in a truck-stop motel outside Gretna Green, the infamous village to elope to, such as with the wicked Mr. Wickham, but we had driven back to England the following day to check out Carlisle and Hadrian's Wall , before making our way truly into the northern country).

Edinburgh is an extremely beautiful city, with my sister deciding it was like a porcupine that had curled up and fossilized, with the population then carving out their homes amid the rock spires. Which is sort of true, as the land has historically been torn and pulled by volcanoes and glaciers before settling into it's current built form carved out of stone.

The city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, having been recognized to be "of outstanding value to humanity" Which is a bit a humbling really. This must be why the historic character of the place feels so well cared for.

I loved these alleys. I would always be surprised to see them, hidden away in the gaps between the shadows.

Apparently Edinburgh, becoming a humming metropolis full of the famous artists and poets of the day, was being called 'the Athens of the North,' and the city even started building it's own Parthenon

But it was never finished, as the project ran out of money.

However, the city is not defined by just one building, but by its sum total. While most of the architecture faithfully follows the patterns and ideas of those previous, you can see instances of new experiments..

But mostly it is just old

growing more complex at smaller and smaller scales, like a city sized fractal

Sometimes it just amazed me how old this city was, seeing thick stone steps worn away by thousands of millions of footsteps.

The next day we drove to Glasgow, not a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but functioning more as a place of industry. We were able to gain local insight into how these two cities worked by meeting up with my sister's friend Fiona, who described Edinburgh as a tourist attraction that no-one actually lives in, while Glasgow offers more contemporary culture, diversity, and grit.

The above photograph was taken from the large motorway that carves through the city, flying above it on long overpasses, which I think says a lot about the city. It had a strong feeling of being continually under construction.

But it also had its moments of delicacy.

After Glasgow, we made our way back to England again, and towards Derbyshire...

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