europe: solar eclipse

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

Sorry for the interruption, but I went on another tour.

I’m now sitting on a bench listening to a guy playing a saw with a violin bow. Strange, huh?

As I was saying, after leaving the Isle of Skye, we took a hellish drive to Edinburgh. We got in pretty late, around 6pm. We parked and went to the TiC (tourist information center). I was not in a good mood, having driven for over 5 hours (we switched off on driving, and I ended up going through this very hellish part with lots of sharp turns and very narrow roads). We were looking for some cheap place to stay the night, but it was very crowded in Edinburgh and the best we could do was a B&B 25 minutes away for ₤22.50/person.

After making the drive to the B&B and getting lost along the way, we finally arrived at the farmhouse. It wasn’t a traditional B&B, but instead this family (with 3 boys) rent out their guest rooms for 3 weeks in August during harvesting season. The house itself was huge, with a guest bathroom the size of a big bedroom, complete with duel head shower and warming pipes for wet towels. The beds were soft and squishy (marshmallow beds), although it was a little cold in the bedroom, the hospitality of the hostess far made up for any deficiencies in the heating. When we moved our stuff in, the day started looking better.

We decided to rest that evening and went to a local movie theatre in the outskirts of Edinburgh. We saw The Matrix in a private theatre, with assigned seats and a rather small movie theatre screen. The day was just about better when it took us 45 minutes to get to the B&B or what should have been a 15 minutes trip.

The next day we went into Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland. During the month of August they have a festival with thousands of professional and amateur plays, musical performances, and displays. While we didn’t have time to catch a show, we did get to see some impressive street performers and walk through the sites and streets of Edinburgh. It is a rather large and, at this time of year, crowded city, with a large castle in the center built into a volcanic depression. We spent a very enjoyable day exploring.

At around 5pm we left Edinburgh and drove for Bath, England, which is on the south, western tip of Great Britain. After a not too bad 6 ½ hour drive we arrived here and promptly fell asleep in a room we had booked in the YMCA.

We’ve spent this entire day exploring the sites of Bath, which included the Roman Baths and delightful street performers, like our friend the talented wood saw performer.

This morning there was a solar eclipse that was visible form Bath. At 11:20am the sun was almost completely covered by the moon. Regrettably, it was cloudy and we weren’t able to see much except the sun’s image through the clouds. A little further east in France the eclipse was total. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to wait another 30 or so years for my next opportunity.