After a week in merry ol’ England, we headed north to Scotland. Since we had spent most of our time in the hustle and bustle of London, the relative quiet of Scotland was very welcome. Our temporary home was a castle estate about an hour north of Edinburgh so a very rural setting. Of course, this also meant we had to find our own way on very narrow and sometimes winding roads driving an unfamiliar vehicle on the opposite side of the road than we were used to (more on that in a future post). Being the capital of Scotland, it seemed only fitting that we start our tour there.
Is it ironic that on our very first day in Edinburgh, as soon as we get out of the car, this gentleman was standing there? As would be expected, we saw very few men in kilts. This man was playing the bagpipes for coins, although at the time we were there, I think he was making more money posing for photos!
Our first planned stop was Edinburgh Castle. Standing high above the city, it is even more imposing up close. We loved that it looked and felt exactly like the castles we dreamed of as kids complete with lovely living quarters for the royalty and dungeons for those who crossed them.
Speaking of the dungeons, this was one of the doors. It has a carving assumed to be from a Revolutionary War prisoner. Notice the American flag?
Walking down the Royal Mile, we came across lovely St. Giles Cathedral.
For 2 pounds, one can purchase a photo pass that allows the bearer to take photos throughout the cathedral. I couldn’t resist. I love the interiors of them! I took a lot of photos, but this was one of my favorites even though it’s a little blurry as it really showed off the beautiful architecture as well as the stained glass. Notice all the chairs. One of the things we learned is that places of worship were not originally designed with seating as worshipers either stood or kneeled in church. It was only in relatively modern times that chairs were added.
At the opposite end of the Royal Mile from Edinburgh Castle sits the Palace of Holyroodhouse (rhyming with Hollywood as opposed to holy). Don’t let it’s less imposing exterior deceive you. This is the current Queen’s official Scotland residence and she does spend one week here each summer (although when in Scotland she spends more time at Balmoral). Inside, one can visit the State Apartments as well as the famous Mary, Queen of Scots chambers including the infamous room where her secretary was murdered.
The grounds of Holyrood Palace were beautiful. I love how these palaces and castles are surrounded by these peaceful gardens.
Our last evening in Edinburgh was spent exploring Real Mary King’s Close. A close is similar to an alley. In Old Town, there is a main street and then narrow alleys or closes shared by residents who lived or worked on either side of it. They have a very steep slope. We were told it was so that when people emptied the chamber pots into the street, it would run down into the river. Nice image, huh? Anyway, Mary King’s Close now feels underground because buildings have been built on top of it, but one can take a tour to explore not only the close but the old residences and shops around it giving a glimpse into 16th – 19th century life in Edinburgh. The image is red because an infrared camera was used to take the photo in the very dark close.
We visited lots of other places in Edinburgh, too, but this gives at least a glimpse. It’s a lovely old city! For my friends and readers who are Outlander fans like I am, we did eat at The World’s End, the pub near Jamie’s print shop in Edinburgh. We also did lots of shopping. I can’t wait to try out my two new cashmere sweaters!