Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Scotland: Edinburgh

Day Three: We arrive in Edinburgh

After taking a plane from Islay to Glasgow and then a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh, we found our hotel and settled in. We didn't make it in one piece, however. For the last year or so, our largest suitcase had been dying a slow, painful death. Tiny black pieces of plastic had littered the ground wherever it rolled. We didn't realize it was quite so near the bitter end, however, so it had accompanied us for one last hurrah in faraway lands. After stuffing it with an amount of whisky questionable by customs standards, the suitcase finally succumbed. The plate inside gave way, and the wheels went out. Husband carried it on this last leg of its journey. I wish we could say that we gave it a beautiful burial at sea, or burned it in a pyre surrounded by flowers and prayer, but I'm afraid it probably met its end in a dumpster, neath crumpled papers and tourist offal (I don't really know...we unceremoniously abandoned it in our hotel room when we departed).

Our hotel was very clean, contemporary, and environmentally friendly, but it was the epitome of a micro-tel. The purchase of  a "comfort packages" got you a towel and soap (and probably extra toilet paper...). No wash cloth, though. We used clean socks instead (which we also unceremoniously abandoned upon departure). Space was saved in any way possible, and our room key had to be inserted into the wall before we could turn on any electricity. The only really bad thing was the horrible, awful, no good, very hard bed. But the place was otherwise economical and served its purpose well. 

I can't really emphasize how tiny this place was. Behind me, the door. 

We went out for a walk around the city that afternoon, but we soon became drenched in a downpour. We abandoned our search for a hat shop and returned to the hotel in time to see a beautiful DOUBLE RAINBOW.
We found some dinner at a really great place that became "our" spot, and we spent an uncomfortable night on those horrible, awful, no good, very hard beds. 

Day Four: Walkabout

Day four began with more walking around the city. We happened upon Saint Mary's Cathedral, and took in the stained glass windows designed by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
Then we wandered along the Water of Leith Walkway, enjoying the clear, beautiful weather. 

Day Four: Royal Botanic Gardens

Our next stop was at the Royal Botanic Garden. This was a top contender for my favorite part of the entire trip. The weather held up, and we wandered for hours. 
Part of the gardens included the Queen Mother's Memorial Garden, with a small building with walls covered in seashells and a ceiling decorated with pinecones.

Day Four: Walkabout, Continued

We continued wandering, seeing the sights...
...stopping for more whisky...
...and finally locating the hat shop!

Day Five: Edinburgh Castle

We devoted this day to touring Edinburgh Castle, the behemoth that loomed above the city. 
Looking out over the city of Edinburgh. 
Castle entrance. 
Looking out over the city of Edinburgh. 

We gazed upon the Crown Jewels, which we couldn't take photos of. We saw the One O'Clock Gun, which is fired six days a week (every day except Sunday) at (you guessed it) 1:00 p.m. The tour guide said the gun had seen only one casualty -- an errant bird that crossed the gun's path at an inopportune moment. 
We looked down at a tiny cemetery where soldiers buried their dogs.
Do you see the name "Tinker"? 
We looked up at St. Margaret's Chapel, which is the oldest building in Edinburgh. 
There was a wedding happening in the chapel so we couldn't tour the inside, but we were treated to a little performance in front of the door.
Right outside of the chapel was Mons Meg. 
And we made sure to stop at the Edinburgh Castle Tea Room for a spot of tea and a scone (drool), because who wouldn't want to eat in a castle?
It was a historical, beautiful experience, shared with good friends and a surprising amount of sunshine. 

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