Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 8, 2008: Edinburgh

Tuesday was our last day of shared holiday time, with Cindy heading to St Andrews in the evening and me to Tokyo the next day. We were a bit done with sightseeing, but mustered up the energy (helped by an absurdly gigantic vegie breakfast at some pub near our hostel) to tackle Edinburgh's Camera Obscura.

The Camera Obscura, built in early 1850s, uses a combination of mirrors to project live images of the city onto a white table. It's not particularly technologically sophisticated, but it's still pretty impressive to see live - it's like someone is training a video camera on the streets outside. The mirrors are adjustable, so you get a run through Edinburgh's history as the operator guides the camera across the inner city. It was great fun, and it's well worth ignoring the cheesiness of the exterior and giving it a look.

As well as the camera obscura itself, you get great views across the city from the roof of the building.

Back up the Royal Mile

Across the city to the Firth of Forth

The rest of the building is filled with an array of wacky optical illusions and the like: bendy mirrors, Escher-esque pictures, those frustratingly impossible magic eye 3d pictures, pinhole photography etc etc. Some of it is pretty cool, but it all gets a bit overrun with kids and noise after a while.

By the time we'd found ourselves an internet cafe and had a bit of a sit down, it was time for Cindy to pick up her stuff and head for the train station. This left me camera-less unfortunately, so the rest of my Edinburgh adventures are visually undocumented. This is a particular shame as the first thing I did was tackle the walk up Arthur's Seat - it only takes an hour or so of reasonably strenuous walking, and the rewards are magnificent. Edinburgh is laid out beneath you in one direction, with the Firth in the other. There are some photos on the web here, but they don't do the actual view justice. I took the long way on the walk back down, getting some great views of hovering kestrels, and a few new small birds. Some sort of falcon came flying through at great pace as well - pretty exciting stuff.

When I eventually came down, I realised that I wasn't too far from Kalpna, a vegetarian Indian restaurant that ex-Edinburgh resident Johanna had recommended to us. Despite the exorbitant prices, I couldn't resist ordering a royal thali (otherwise I would have had to choose only one curry from the great menu). It truly was fit for a king - including some pakoras, daal, palak paneer, dam aloo gobi, paneer butter masala, seasonal vegetables, rice, naan, raita and a ricey dessert. Throw in a kingfisher beer and I wandered back to the hostel very, very full and very, very satisfied.


  1. I've never been to the camera obscura but sounds interesting - the views of edinburgh are so spectacular - and glad to hear you enjoyed kalpna!

  2. Mmmmmm, I love Kalpna! Despite my traumatising first visit, when my flatmate assured me that the Wednesday night buffet only cost £3.50, having overlooked a digit somewhere...

  3. Johanna, I'm a big fan of optical illusions and the like so the camera obscura was a lot of fun!

    Welcome, Boffcat! The price shock must have set you back on that first visit - it must really be good to have won you back. :-)