Trip Start May 14, 2012
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

We wake up and head over to the library a few blocks down to get directions to the Enterprise location we're dropping our car off at, and as it turns out it's attached to the building housing our hostel. We're off to a good start. After we double back and kiss Jessie goodbye ("Aye, you'll be comin' back?") we head over the one-lane bridge back to the highway.
Ah, Edinburgh! This city is fantastic!

 Everything we want to do and see is close to the hostel so we can't help but feel charmed. The sky is clear again and I have a friend who sent me a list of things to see and do. We head up the street and are stopped by a giant monument we mistook for a cathedral steeple - this is the Scott Memorial. 

 Sir Walter Scott is the author of Ivanhoe and other classics; he's often credited with generating world-wide interest in Scotland and Scottish culture/language. Move over, Robbie Burns. The monument stands next to the Scottish National Gallery, which has an admission price so free we can't refuse a small nip into the exhibits. I plan just a quick walk-through but I'm surprised by how much time my dad spends by the paintings.

 There's a giant park that's squared in by the Gallery to the south and the Memorial to the west so we take a quick trot through the grounds. Uphill from there we find our first sight of the upper city and Edinburgh Castle - that's the biggest pull for my dad in coming to Edinburgh. We take our time getting there, though, scaling large staircases and dodging in through the narrow streets up top. We find a Writer's Museum housing artifacts associated with Robert Louis Stevenson, Robbie Burns, Walter Scott, Conan Doyle and other Edinburgh luminaries.

 We find that a giant stadium has been built right beside Edinburgh Castle so we avoid that and walk around the walls - but we can't find the entrance. The slope descends, though, and we find ourselves in another giant park. There's a church nearby and a stage where I can imagine a multitude of trite Shakespeare adaptations making their way into the world. My dad becomes obsessed with finding a specific angle to view the castle involving some gardens - but as we continue to walk around the castle we conclude that the shot he saw was taken from the air.

 We also realize that the "stadium" we avoided was actually a grandstand surrounding the entrance to the castle. They must be for the spectators of civil functions occuring in the castle plaza. We give a glance but hurry into the castles gates - suffering a sixteen-pound levy to get in. There are a number of levels to the castle walls and we scale each in turn - near the top is housed Mons Meg: one of the largest European cannons. I had heard the name before but never knew what it referred to.
The big draw in the castle, though, are the royal artifacts (the Honours of Scotland, I believe they're called). There's a crown, a sword, a scepter and the Stone of Destiny. When we entered the chambers we were disappointed to find we weren't allowed to use our cameras inside. However, somehow my video was turned on as I hung the camera around my neck and walked through the whole exhibit - how did that happen?
But the video turned out quite poor - it seems they anticipated such acts of cultural piracy and adjusted the lights to match.
After finishing up at the castle we marched back to the hostel with a quick stop at St. Giles' Cathedral. I took a few pictures before being warned that photography permits cost a few pounds. I didn't want to commit double photo-offences today and am content with what I have. It started to rain so we highlined it to a small take-out nook (where I had lamb-donair pizza) for some food before heading to bed. We're taking the train to London in the morning so some good ZZZ's might be in order.
I notice this is the first city I feel like I would enjoy living in.
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Kate on

You did not come to Newcastle (shaking head!) Well you can always come back.

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