Riding into Ratho the wind was at our backs and we made the distance in no time. The directions were to 'come into town and look for the aquamarine door - I'll put a red rug out front so you can see'. Talk about red carpet treatment! We've been welcomed by Pete, Shona, and their children Josh and Eryn. It will be a pleasure staying with them for a bit.
Our afternoon consisted of walking around the town and down the Union Canal. Learned
that it was built in 1822 as a way to get boats from Edinburgh to Glasgow. At the time, it was the fastest method of transportation. Horses would pull the boats and be changed every 5 miles or so for refreshment. You could make the trip in a mere 2 days. It's amazing to think that we traveled the same distance in a few hours with a simple machine and our own legs. Unfortunately, the canals went unused when only 20 years later the railway was built. Only recently have the canals been cleaned out and are used for leisure activities such as canoing, cycling and walking.
The next day was a trip into Edinburgh with myself, Brian, Pete and the kids. 1st stop was the museum of Scotland. This is a huge museum. You could easily spend a week there and still not see everything inside. It was interesting to see many parallels between some Irish traditions and history we'd learned about.
Lunch was at Grey Friar's Kirk (church). This large church was finished at the same time the Mayflower was arriving in the North Americas. Seemed to be a popular place for walking tours, so we suffered through several historical renditions of the same thing as we ate. Apparently, this place is
a mass burial site from the plague (once a valley, now a hill) and the guides loved to make the tourists squirm as they realized they were standing on bodies 1/2 dozen deep. As the guide continued to discuss how Scots have no problem with death, he indicated that cemeteries are the 2nd most popular place for public 'shagging'. The man sitting next to me practically erupted in anger at this vulgarity (especially in front of children) and wanted to report him to the authorities. Seems that views about language are slightly changed since Ireland...Heard the story of a little dog named Greyfriar's Bobby who after his owner's death, spent 14 years at his grave until his own death. What an act of devotion! The owner's grave is old and unmarked, but new stones have been erected in honor of the dog. First impressions of Scotland:
1) Ontario. Somehow we've been mystically transported to South-Western Ontario. I was a
bit worried upon arrival off the ferry in the dusk of the evening that we were actually on-board a magical ferry that took us home by mistake. The lay of the land: rolling fields with hedgerows full of jersey cows, was just too similar in our tired state.
2) Brown. Beautiful large brown sandstone buildings rise straight up from the sidewalk. Majestically they line the road of the main streets. After spending some time in Edinburgh the city exemplifies this. Only these buildings are 5 and 6 stories in height standing along cobbled streets and carry the black evidence of days where coal was used.
Local interest: not quite what Brian and I are doing, but some
amazing cycling none-the-less. Plus it gives a great look at the
city. Enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z19zFlPah-o
Had a leisurely sleep in with the sound of cows to lull our sleep. Eventually we wheeled ourselves back to the last town where we could find a working payphone to call Brian's blacksmithing friend. They had just arrived back from holidays, so it was good that we hadn't been any earlier!