Scotland Day 2 – Edinburgh Castle

For something that dominates the entire city, the castle has a vastly different feeling when you actually touch the stones of this amazing edifice. Driving back from Leith we passed the village of New Haven. Back in the day, the men would catch the fish and the women would cart the fish up to Edinburgh to sell. The money they made from the sale of the fish was theirs to keep.

In the far background is the Firth of Forth. Firth means estuary so it is the estuary of the river Forth. But Firth of Forth rather rolls off the tongue. Gradually it gets wider as it heads to the North Sea.

We stopped to view the Three Bridges. It represents 3 centuries of bridge building. The view was so popular the council built a viewing platform. On the right is the Forth Rail bridge, built in 1890. In the centre is the Forth Road Bridge, built in 1964. On the left is the Queens Ferry Crossing bridge, built in 2017.

The Queens Ferry Crossing is the longest three tower, cable stayed bridge in the world.

Queens Ferry Crossing Bridge

And they had an excellent coffee shop. An espresso, telephone box and 3 magnificent bridges.

McEwen Music Hall. Many of the old buildings have a black overcoat. The buildings are made from soft sandstone which absorbs the soot and dust. Attempts to clean the stone have caused damaged to the buildings. So the decision was made to have black but not damaged historical buildings.

The National Records of Scotland with the Duke of Wellington Statue

However, before we entered the enclosure, we were treated to a coach tour of more of the city and The Royal Mile. The Royal Mile is a stretch of streets the go from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle.

Holyrood Palace is the residence of the Queen in Scotland. Colin, our coach driver informed us that it is temporarily closed. Also, no one is allowed to stop in front of it. There is a fine for doing so. He did not know why but we could only just drive by. Managed to get a couple of pics from the bus.

Queen’s Gallery at Holyrood Palace

On the way to the entrance was a Mel Gibson wanna be demonstrating Highlander fighting tactics on some poor, unsuspecting tourist.

Traffic is not allowed in the last segment of road going up to Edinburgh Castle. We were let off and headed to the ticket office. The place was packed. Even though there was lots of open space, once we got inside, it was filled with people. The blue stands are for the Military Tattoo which takes place every August. Although our tour guide warned us about coming in August, it is an event I would love to come back for.

The line up to see the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny. The line went quickly as no photos were allowed to be taken. The Stone is used in the Crowing of the King ceremony. It’s placed under the throne. King Edward I took the stone back to London where it was kept for 700 years. When Prince Charles is crowed king, it will be taken from Edinburgh Castle to London for the ceremony.

There is a stone dedication here to Mary of Lorraine, mother to Mary Queen of Scots.

Of course I had to visit the dog cemetery. It was established by Queen Victoria for officer’s dogs and regimental mascots.

The round battery provides an excellent view of the entire city and surrounding area.

I headed down the stone steps toward the exit. At the bottom was a bench so I stopped for a rest, took out my flask and toasted the castle as I pressed my back into the stone wall.

Later that night, we were treated to a dinner theatre experience entitled The Spirit of Scotland. It took place at the Royal College of Surgeons – only a 15 minute walk from the hotel. We were greeted by the piper who was more than happy to have photos taken

We were seated at the back so the photos were not great. I did order a whisky flyer of 7, 10 and 12 year old. It should be noted that whisky in Scotland is without the “e”. In Ireland it is whiskey. There was song, dance and stories. We were the last to be served dinner. Everyone who ordered the braised beef were disappointed. We were given the blackened ends which were inedible. But the whisky was good.

They had the Haggis ceremony, where the haggis was brought out, the young girl was the haggis hunter and the piper leading a formal procession. (Haggis is not an animal. It is made from the offal of sheep). The Robbie Burns tribute to the haggis was recited and the haggis was knifed – all in good fun.

At the end, we were all standing, holding hands and singing Auld Lang Syne. I was reminded of a quote I had seen earlier on a building…

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