Adventures in Edinburgh

Trip Start Jul 20, 2014
Trip End Aug 05, 2014

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Friday, July 25, 2014

We slept until 8:00 today.  It felt so good to get caught up on sleep.  We took our time this morning as we were free until 1:00.  We went to breakfast and Larry got Haggis, a traditional Scottish savory pudding made of sheep's heart, liver and lungs minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt.  I tasted it and it was good.  We also had eggs, bacon and sausage and I had roasted tomato and fruit.  We didn't leave the hotel until about 10:00.  We headed down the High Street which is called the Royal Mile because it connects Edinburgh Castle with Holyrood (holly-rude) Palace.  We headed east and down the hill and stopped at the house of John Knox, the leader of the Protestant Reformation in Scotland aka the Presbyterian Church.  On the way back up the hill we stopped at the Museum of Childhood which was full of antique toys.  We went to the second level to see the train display.  They actually had an American Flyer.  There was also an impressive display of doll houses.  We stopped at the World's End Pub to read about it and to look at the menu.  The name comes from the fact that at one time it was right next to the wall of the city (end of the world).  The menu looked good so we thought we might go for supper there. 

As we passed the street our hotel is on we went by the Tron Kirk (church) which was built for the Presbyterians in 1630 when they left St. Giles Cathedral when it came under the Archbishop of Edinburgh's control.  They have concerts in that church now.  The Mercat Cross was our next stop where we ran into Charlie and Karen again.  This is the place where Bonnie Prince Charlie was proclaimed king in 1745.  St. Giles Cathedral was right next door so we toured it also.  It had some beautiful stained glass windows and the Thistle Chapel which was small but full of heraldry.  On the way up Castle Hill we saw the de-consecrated Tollbooth Kirk which is now used as the headquarters for the Edinburgh Festival which starts next week.  That is the festival where the Tattoo takes place, a three week long competition for military bands from all over the world.  We also saw and heard a bagpiper on the way up Castle Hill.  When we got to the castle we walked into the parade grounds where the Tattoo takes place and saw the Front of the Castle.

Then we headed back down Castle Hill to George IV Bridge Street.  Before we got there we saw a side street that looked interesting and headed south down it.  It came to an end at an elevated walkway along a sunken street which took us over the George IV Bridge Street.  We headed south and found Greyfriar's Bobby, a statue of a terrier named Bobby who for 14 years guarded the grave of his master, John Gray who was a policeman.  John Gray was buried in Greyfriar's Cemetery and so is Bobby.  We visited the Greyfriar's Church which was a Franciscan Church originally (the Greyfriars).  There was also a pub of the same name there.  Then we returned to our room for a rest before our afternoon tour.

We got on our tour bus and headed for Edinburgh Castle.  Our guide was Yves (eves) and she was a terrific older woman who really knows Edinburgh.  We approached the castle from a direction that allowed us to see the basalt rock it is built upon,  We went into the castle through the portcullis (drop down gate) and Yves told us the history of it being built.  We walked right to the top passing the Esplanade, the Argyle Battery, the Governor's House, St. Margaret's Chapel, to the Crown Courtyard at the top.  On one side of the courtyard was the Palace in which Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James the VI and in which the Crown of Scotland and the Stone of Scone are displayed.  The Stone of Scone was sat upon at their coronations by the kings and queens of England for 700 years even though it was originally for the Scottish kings.  It was finally returned to Scotland in 1996.  On another side of the courtyard was the Great Hall which was the meeting place of the Scottish Parliament until 1639.  On a third side was a war memorial for all the men and women who have died in war beginning with WWI.  It was neat because they had the names of all the dead in books you could look through.  We didn't get to go into St. Margaret's Chapel because there was a wedding there today.  We did see the Dog Cemetery of all the Regiment Dogs just outside the Chapel.

We drove around Edinburgh and saw Princes Street, The Scott Memorial, Charlotte Square, St. Andrew's Square, Regent's Park and many other sites.  Our next destination was Holyrood Palace which is where the queen and the royals stay when they are in Scotland.  We parked just outside the palace but walked less than a block from the Palace to see the current Scottish Parliament which is in a very contemporary building.  We were there only long enough to see the debating chamber.  Then we went to the palace and toured it.  Yves told us all kinds of stories.  Holyrood means Holy Cross which King David I is said to have seen between the antlers of a stay he was hunting there in 1128.  We saw many rooms and exhibits including the Throne Room and Royal Dining Room, the Long Gallery, We saw the room where Lord Darnley, the jealous husband of Mary, Queen of Scots, killed her secretary, David Rizzo.  We also saw the ruin of the Abbey next to the palace.  Now it was time to head back to the hotel.

There were eight of us who went out to supper together at the World's End Pub.  Three more of us also ended up being there and we had a great time.  Larry had Venison Sausages and Mashed Potatoes.  For beer he had a Belhaven Black Scottish Stout and a Belhaven IPA.  I had Balmoral Chicken (stuffed with Haggis), mashed potatoes, green beans and carrots.  We stopped at a shop on our way back but Larry and I didn't get anything.  Then we came back to the hotel to blog and go to bed.
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