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Entries about university

Scotland Day 5: Giving Thanks in Scots and Spanish

rain 43 °F

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Today we had a somewhat relaxed day. We slept in a bit and then walked to the university to do the self-guided tour. The walk to the university took us through Greyfriars Kirkyard, which is an interesting place. It feels exactly like the stereotypical "spooky graveyard." Tom Riddle is buried here, as well as other people whose names were used by J.K. Rowling for characters in the Harry Potter books.
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While we were walking through the graveyard we saw a girl gathering sticks. We weren't sure why she was doing it, but it seemed like she was intent on creating a significant pile of sticks in her arms. Then as we passed the church associated with the kirkyard, we saw her add her pile of sticks to this pile that already existed in front of the gravestone of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who sat faithfully on his master's grave. Later on in the day we saw a plaque stating that a local pub owner had trained Bobby to come to his pub at one o'clock (at the sound of the one o'clock gun) and get a meat pie. It seems that the community here loved Bobby when he was alive and still loves him now that he is gone.
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At the university. The weather was drizzly and cold but not raining too hard when we set out, but it started to rain more as we kept exploring.
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Daniel at the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology.
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Us in front of George Square. Many of the university's buildings surround this square.
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A lot of famous people once lived in these houses, including Eric Liddell (a University of Edinburgh alumnus and the inspiration for and main character in Chariots of Fire), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (also an alumnus), and Sir Walter Scott (also an alumnus).
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It was raining pretty heavily so we went into a Chinese restaurant across from the university for lunch.

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We went back to our room for a bit, then went out again as it was getting dark to see if we could buy a gown and hood for the graduation at Ede and Ravenscroft. We had hired a gown and hood, but would prefer to have one to keep from the original ceremony. Ultimately, we were able to buy a gown but not a hood. We will have to order the hood later. The Ede and Ravenscroft salesperson was very helpful, and explained to us also that the royal family uses their services for their ceremonies. The Edinburgh shop is not especially involved in the upcoming coronation, but the London shop is. It was a beautiful walk down to the shop in "New Town" Edinburgh.
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The university's "new college" which is near the castle. Historically it exists because of a schism within the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. Now it is part of the university and appears to be mostly used by the School of Divinity.
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Some kind of carnival in New Town.
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A dark and ominous-looking staircase that is actually a part of a system of staircases that constitute a shortcut between where we are staying and the castle.
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Our Thanksgiving dinner was tapas from a Spanish restaurant nearby. They were delicious and, although different from the traditional American Thanksgiving, had a similar feeling due to the wide variety of foods available.
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A view of our walk home. It was a wonderful and relaxed day, and we can't wait for graduation tomorrow!

Posted by danielcatherine 00:14 Archived in Scotland Tagged churches university spanish gravestones thanksgiving graves tapas hoods gowns scots greyfriars_bobby Comments (2)

Scotland Day 3: A Glimpse of France

semi-overcast 46 °F

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We started our day with a small breakfast of tea and some pastries that we got from a bakery across the street.
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Then we set off on a walk towards the university. On our way we saw a sword store and an Irish pub.
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And then some statues closer to the university.
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We arrived at the Old College at the University of Edinburgh. Despite having completed a Master's degree at the University, this was Daniel's first time on the campus!
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We stopped at "Elephants and Bagels" which was a fun place to stop.
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Catherine got a university tartan scarf at the gift shop. We took these pictures by McEwan Hall, where the graduation will be held on Friday.
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The statue of Greyfriars Bobby, a dog that faithfully sat by his master's grave for years
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A narrow building by Greyfriars Bobby.
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St. Giles Cathedral, and some other buildings, statues, and memorials.
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Some views from our tour of Edinburgh Castle. The castle is an amazing place to tour, and our tour guide was excellent. One thing she mentioned was that she used to believe there are no stupid questions, until a guest, pointing north across the Firth of Forth, asked "is that France?" Later on in the tour, the guide mentioned that the British authorities were worried in the late 18th century about French and American ideas of republican government spreading to Britain. Catherine said "I mean, France is right over there..." which cracked the tour guide up. (Her later comment, to a docent who had done her Masters and PhD on the Jacobite wars, that she would just learn about all of that by watching Outlander, horrified the docent until Catherine unjoked her.)
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This statue of Douglas Haig is apparently somewhat controversial. It now sits in front of the hospital area, but formerly was outside the walls until there were concerns about it getting vandalized. The tour guide said that in the UK, they don't tear down statues, they move them. She pointed out that you can't un-destroy a statue if you regret destroying it, but you can move it around.
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Views from the lookout by the hospital. It's amazing to see the city, especially since we came in when it was already dark.
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Us at the castle.
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Some more views in and around the castle. The castle is built on an extinct volcano called Castle Rock, which our tour guide says causes every child growing up in Edinburgh to become concerned about volcanic eruptions at around the age of seven. Also, most of the tour guides seem to think that Scotland is especially literal in its naming of things, but given that we live in a large, central valley in California called "The Central Valley" right next to a snowy mountain range called (in Spanish) "The Snowy Mountain Range" we are unsure that such literalism it is unique to Scotland.
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St. Margaret's Chapel, which is the oldest building at the castle. It was spared during the First War for Scottish Independence, which led to the pope at the time recognizing Robert the Bruce as a legitimate king of Scotland. The chapel is small but very interesting. Also on the top of the hill is a large war memorial, mostly based on World War I, and the royal palace where Mary, Queen of Scots lived and where King James VI and I was born. In the palace you can also see the Honours of Scotland, as well as the Stone of Scone or Stone of Destiny, on which British monarchs are still coronated. It will be going to London for the coronation of King Charles III next year, but presumably returning to Edinburgh afterwards. This stone has a great deal in common with the lia fáil at Tara in Ireland.
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Some underground sites at the castle. They weren't very well marked, and parts were blocked off. Catherine captioned this scene "a little kid...killing someone."
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Inside the Great Hall.
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The English Lion and the Scottish Unicorn in front of the war memorial.
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Mons Meg, a giant old cannon.
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Inside St. Margaret's Chapel. St. Margaret was the wife of King Malcolm (the son of Duncan who appears in the play Macbeth.36CF0077-D7AD-4F1C-9A67-C006090FB79C.jpeg97320FF9-EEDF-425A-92F4-EDD7CE5D7AEB.jpeg
The Royal Mile from the castle.
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We went for a quick and late lunch at an Indian restaurant called Treacle. It was delicious. We got some samosa chaat (samosas with chickpeas and sauce) as well as some noodles.
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Our next tour was a whisky tasting and folklore experience in the Waverly Bar.
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We tried these four whiskies. Probably our mutual favorite was the Old Pulteney. Catherine liked the Glengoyne and Daniel liked the Balvenie and the Bowmore. The songs and stories that accompanied the tasting were also wonderful. It was a great experience.
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We got fish and chips for dinner at a place near our AirBnb. We also tried a "chip butty," basically a sandwich with butter and chips/ fries.
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After that we went to an Irish pub called Finnegan's Wake. They had live music, a mix of Irish music, rock, and country. They also had a number of GAA jerseys on the wall, but unfortunately no Mayo jersey. It was a wonderful first day in Scotland!

Posted by danielcatherine 01:07 Archived in Scotland Tagged whisky france volcano folklore breakfast university castle cafe tasting chapel edinburgh_castle st._margaret Comments (3)

Portugal Day 6: Batlioteca and the Footsteps of the Romans

overcast 69 °F

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Walking up to the University of Coimbra was a bit of a climb, but we were able to get there pretty quickly using a direct route up stairs.
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Many of the buildings at the university date from the mid twentieth century, and were built under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar, the dictator of Portugal who had been a professor at the University. These buildings, our AirBnB host told us, are controversial because houses were demolished to build them. They have a very uniform feel, and seem to form an imposing entry towards the old square of the University.
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Views of the old square, which is located in a former royal palace.
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Us in the square.
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The first part of our tour: knocking on the door of the chapel.
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Inside São Miguel chapel. It was a royal chapel but is now used by the university. They have masses regularly, which prevents tours from going through, but we were able to go in.
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A striking picture of the courtyard.
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The Joanine Library, which also includes the Academic Prison. The prison was used when students and faculty were convicted of crimes in order to prevent university scholars from having to associate with “common criminals.” The lower level of the library is used for storage of older books. The upper level is the room where students would have studied, and where there are beautifully decorated shelves and paintings. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in that room. It is also famous because there are bats that eat the insects that could damage the books. The bats live behind the shelves and eat moths and other insects at night. Pieces of paper are set down on the tables to protect them from bat guano.
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The inside of the royal palace. One large room is used today for students who are defending dissertations: there was a student doing so when we toured.
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Some last views of Coimbra before we left. Also, a couple pictures of our car and our AirBnB.
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Next we visited the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Coimbra is named after Conimbriga (in Roman times Coimbra was called Aeminium, and was renamed when Conimbriga was razed by the Suebi and the residents fled to Aeminium.
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The ruins are fascinating: baths, houses, mosaics, and other buildings.
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The Roman influence continues, in the form of gelato.
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We then drove to Porto. We are staying at the House of Sandeman, located immediately above their tasting room and port cellars. Our room is very nice and comfortable, despite the somewhat creepy painting.
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Porto is beautiful. At night, it feels like a city for making plots and schemes.
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We went out for dinner and a couple drinks. Catherine tried bacalhau com natas (cod with cream) for the first time, and really liked it. It was a beautiful night of talking and walking near the river. We can’t wait to see more of Porto tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:40 Archived in Portugal Tagged palace bridge university port royal porto library bats chapel romans coimbra gelato conimbriga sandeman Comments (0)

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