Trip Start Sep 03, 2007
Trip End Sep 14, 2007

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

  I rested last night and got up late this morning.  I did a little pre-packing and waited for the traffic to die down before I made the twenty mile drive into Edinburgh, finally leaving around 10:15am.  There was very little traffic, and even though it was city driving, it did not take me long before I found a car park for Edinburgh Castle and the downtown attractions.  I basically park right under the castle and walk up into the open area where a festival had completed two weeks before.  They were dismantling the huge bleacher seat structures, and it was an interesting contrast between new age seating and a 500+ year old castle.  The castle is simply amazing as it seems to grow up out of the rock into this chiseled, clean structure. 
   I pay for a ticket and enter through the front gates.  Even with the throng of visitors snapping pictures on digital cameras (myself included . . . oooh look at that - snap!) it seems like you step back in time.  The stones are worn from years of footfalls along the main path, and it certainly makes you think about how many people have walked up this same corridor.  In through the Porticullis Gate and the main castle spreads out before you - stairs, rocks, chapels, cannons, everything.  There is Dog Cemetery, a small grassy area which holds the remains of the General's/Captain's/Leader's dogs.  Very nice touch for dog lovers.  I continue to walk around and get to the viewpoints, where there are some top notch views of the city.  The other parts of the castle - St. Margaret's Chapel, Scottish War Memorial, Half Moon Battery - all stand out as impressive craftsmanship and masonry.
   Out of the castle and down the Mound, which is the lower part of the hill the castle is on.  I manage to find my way past the National Gallery of Scotland, in a very Greekly built building, out to the Prince's Street Gardens.  I find The Call statue, which is a memorial donated by Scottish American's after World War I.  It is here that my great grandparents stood in the mid 1920's with my grandfather in tow - I am able to find a nice couple to take my picture in front of it.  There are memorials and statues everywhere you look.  From there I tramped up to the Royal Mile, which is one of the oldest streets in the UK.  I have lunch outside at an Italian Restaurant, having a delicious pasta dish with garlic bread, Italian beer (a sin in Scotland?), and tiramisu.  Notice that I didn't eat any breakfast today.  
   Down the Royal Mile past the new Scottish Parliament, which looks VERY out of place on this street.  It looks like some building from the future scenes from The Terminator.  It almost looks like they decided that any architecture done in the entire city of Edinburgh was wrong and had to fix it with this.  You'll see in the pictures.  I think it would fit in better if it was a beach house on Venice Beach in L.A., complete with places to hang surf boards.  Past the Parliament is Arthur's Seat, a tall hill in the middle of the city with supposed great views.  Since my trip has been defined by amazing viewpoints, I undertake the challenge of the climb.  Equipped with my camera and a slab of Scottish fudge bought on the Royal Mile (when did I have time for that?  I think it magically made its way into my bag . . . ) I climb the heights.  The wind is very strong, and I again take the short way up to save time.  The pictures are taken from various points where I had to stop and catch my breath (and take a nibble of my rocky road fudge).  From the top, the views were some of the best yet.  You could see for over 70 miles even though it was overcast.
   After sitting up on the Seat for awhile and soaking it all in, I made my way down.  I stopped off in a 250 year old pub and had a pint.  I walked back down to the Prince's Street Gardens and looked at the Sir Walter Scott Monument.  Sir Walter was one of the most famous Scottish writers, and his monument shows that fact - very impressive.  I had dinner at a burger joint and watched people walk past as the crowds began to die down.  It was creeping closer to 7pm, and it was nearing my time to leave.  I had to walk past the now shadowed Edinburgh Castle and it towered above me as I walked down to the car park.  It was certainly a good sight to see as your "last sight".  With traffic down, I easily drove out of the city and up the motorway to my hotel, basically completing my journey.  It was well worth the time and the effort, but the time never lasts as long as you would hope.  I liken it to that awkward moment when everyone stops laughing after a hilarious joke; the fun always has to stop.  
   Such was my mindset as I packed my things in an empty hotel room in Scotland, with my only escape being these posts and a return journey in my mind.  Hopefully they provided as much escape and satisfaction as they did me.  Thank you for reading.

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