Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Day 19: Edinburgh

We did not arise from our slumber until 9am, when the phone alarm went off. I was annoyed by how late we woke, but I felt well rested. After breakfast we somehow managed to trot out into cool Edinburgh. The sky was overcast, but the forecast promised we would be fine until the afternoon.

We began our trek through the Grassmarket area, the castle looming overhead and positioning itself as the master of Old Town. It is always fun to figure out which level we need to be on and which bridge we need to get to the other side of the city.

There were some tourists about but we seemed to escape most of them as we walked down to Calton Hill - and then up it! Calton Hill seemed so small in the dull morning light - when last I had been there for the Beltane Fire Festival, darkness had erased all boundaries. It was also confusing to see the true placement of the structures and monuments - they seemed to have been strewn dizzily around during Beltane, but now the area seemed less surreal and vaguely boring.



I was also annoyed with the number of tourists walking about and lingering at places of interest, ruining my photos. Two were hogging the National Monument of Scotland; these women posed between the columns for a good long while, making their long suffering friend circle the monument to take photos from different angles. Their antics infuriated this photographer - ah, but the views of the gorgeous Salisbury Crags were worth it.

Edinburgh: possibly the most picturesque city in the world

We found a shortcut down to Holyrood Palace. The building is grand, but it is literally overshadowed by the immense volcanic creation rising above it. Well, it was not shadowed when we arrived. My fiancé had not been there before so we eschewed audio guides and I filled the role instead. I pointed out the paintings with slashes whenever I saw them, explaining how they had been mangled then restored.

One particular small painting in Mary, Queen of Scots’ bedchamber looked like it had been literally hacked. The floors in this oldest section were easy to spot - or hear, rather. The snap, crackle, creak stalked us all the way around that side of the palace. I saw something I had not noticed last time - the place that marked where the body of David Rizzo had been dragged after he was murdered centuries ago.

Perhaps it was the suggestion of a corpse or wishful thinking, but it seemed to me that the wooden flooring here were a deeper brown than any other part of the floor. It even had a red tinge. Then again, the colour of wood varied greatly throughout the palace…

We exited to take in the ruins of Holyrood Abbey which sadly were less brilliant beneath clouds than the blue skies of two years ago - and they were filled with summer tourists. The gardens were lovely. I managed to buy another card holder from the gift shop, though not the same as my beloved one which is currently falling apart.

A statue passes the time in the gardens.

After using the bathrooms, we stood beneath the crags, planning our ascent. Thankfully, my must-see destination (the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel) was easily visible and much lower. It was still an uphill climb, though we abandoned the more adventurous route which was fenced off. Rocks warred with the gravel and dirt that cut a path through green, green grass.

There wasn’t much left of the chapel - it mustn’t have been big to start with. Though once repaired in the early 15th century, it is certainly beyond repair now. It was sheltered beneath a wall of rock though my fiancé said it would be easy to attack from there. I thought it was a good place for a chapel - close to God, but not too close. A beautiful spot with a more modern loch beneath it.

You too can fit the castle, the chapel ruins and Calton Hill in just one photo!

We followed a stretch of grass that had been walked on too many times to grow enough of anything else. This led us up to the top of the crags where we decided that too much effort was required to reach Arthur’s Seat (the tiny pinpricks up there made it look crowded!). We did not go too far, but enough to see the castle (usually so large, but now so miniature and distant - had we really walked so far?).

We retreated back down, picking our way over rocks and dirt, to Holyrood Palace. We waltzed up the Royal Mile, buying souvenirs, and then disaster struck. On a side road towards our hotel - MAISON DE MOGGY. This was a shop where you could go in and pay to pat cats! Beautiful kitties were separated from me by glass.

“Please, please!” I cried but my fiancé reminded me that we needed lunch.

Once our bags deposited, we enjoyed a meal at the Hard Rock Cafe using a shortcut through the Princes Street Gardens. The food there is better than the ones in Sydney and New York!! Home again. Dinner in. Thank goodness.

Tomorrow - Glasgow!

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