Saturday, July 16, 2016

Edinburgh, Part 2 - The City

Great free walking tour in Edinburgh. Our tour leader was very good and expressive.  He is also an actor so that explained how he presented information to us.  All the free walking tours I went on were led by people who were very knowledgeable, some with history degrees. Funny that the person leading this tour was from Australia. The leader for Gent, Belgium was from Barcelona. Very interesting folks.

I are photos of what I saw in this medieval wonderland of many charms.
From the photos, it is obvious this wasn't a place of brilliant sunshine. I was there in the beginning of May, and it was cold and gray. Below are scenes as I walked around Edinburgh on the "New City" side. The city began on the other side of a deep ravine and as it expanded they needed more room and started building across the way and called it New City. What is so amazing is that when you walk down the main street in New City and look across the ravine all you see is medieval structures, churches and Edinburgh Castle. This isn't a building here or there, but solid. To me it was surreal and I felt I had really gone back in time.

Looking at Old City from New City.  It
was just hard to comprehend, like a movie set.

Monument to the Royal Scots Greys in Princes Street 
Gardens.  Erected in 1906 to commemorate the fallen of 
the Regiment during the Boer War.

Garden right downtown.  Enjoyed walking through 
it off the main street that is so busy with buses, trolleys, 
city noise.

Miscellaneous finds.  When traveling it is always interesting to discover things we don't see in our life in the United States.

Little market selling produce

Much to my surprise there are five ski resorts
in Scotland.

This was on the hill to my apartment
and is a working phone.

Quite an outfit.

Also known as a "grit box" for icy days.  Edinburgh is
not a flat city, so I'm sure this comes in handy.

Didn't feel much warmth from the sun in
the five days I was there.

Walking Tour, full of so many interesting facts.  
I'll write about a few of them.

City Chambers Quadrangle - The Edinburgh 
Award.  Author, J.K. Rowling, author of Harry 
Potter novels, won award in 2008.  

St. Giles Cathedral

Heart of Midlothian

 Lawnmarket Brass markers indicate the site of the 
gallows at the west front of the Tolbooth prison.

We were told the myth of the "short step" to catch a burglar 
in the middle of the night.  The Scots are great story tellers.

I loved looking at this scene from above.

Scene used in Harry Potter movies.

I'm not going to try to hop this fence.

Great tour guide who is an actor, quite expressive
in his narration of the city.  Great fun.

Formidable Dublin Castle.

Edinburgh Castle is built high on an impressive 700 million 
year old extinct volcano called Castle Rock.

Originally a marketplace for horses and cattle from the 14th century right up until the early 19th century, the Grassmarket was also renowned for its public executions.

Grassmarket section of town, this was interesting 
and I guess made quite an "impression".

Some say this is the oldest pub in Edinburgh.

The Last Drop Pub on the Grassmarket, is where men sentenced to hang for such horrible crimes as stealing a pair of boots or being a Protestant were taken to have their last meal while they prepared the gallows across the road. Just before leaving the pub they were given a last whisky, 'one for the road' as it was called.

Maggie, found guilty of infanticide, was executed by hanging 
at Grassmarket on September 2, 1724.  She survived and was 
given a full pardon and lived another 25 years.

X marks the spot.  This is where the "gibbet" (gallows) were
in the center of Grassmarket.  Over 100 Covenanters were hanged here because they would not swear allegiance to the crown.

George Heriot's School in background, founded 1628, 
notable for its renaissance architecture.

Elephant House Cafe, where RK Rowling worked on 
her Harry Potter books.  She drew several character names 
from the headstones in the cemetery.

This graveyard is considered the most haunted one in 
the world.  Glad I went during the day time.

Greyfrairs Kirk stands on the site of pre-Reformation  establishment of the Franciscan order, 
the "Grey Friars". Construction began in 1602.

In a country known for great writers and poets, it is sad the William Topaz McGonagall, was widely hailed as the writer of the worst poetry in the English language. A self-educated hand loom weaver of Irish descent, he discovered his discordant muse in 1877 and embarked upon a 25 year career as a working poet, delighting and appalling audiences across Scotland and beyond. His audiences threw rotten fish at him, the authorities banned his performances, and he died a pauper over a century ago. But his books remain in print to this day, and he’s remembered and quoted long after more talented contemporaries have been forgotten. to be known in Scotland as the worst poet

A mortsafe.  Remnants of the body snatching era in 
Scotland. (very interesting)

Another style.  I suppose without this back then we 
wouldn't have learned about anatomy.

Most of us know the story of Grayfrairs Bobby, owned 
by John Gray.  A book was written about it, as well as a movie.

Bobby, the faithful Skye Terrier, is said to have sat 

by his master's grave for 14 years.

Statue of Greyfriars Bobby, by William Brodie, 1872.

Great marketing, right at the statute a restaurant named after 
the dog, with prices that are very high.  I passed on this place.

Interesting weathervane.

The National Museum of Scotland is phenomenal.  I was amazed to go to so many quality museums in Europe that were free.  This was so well done, full of any and everything and a surprise at every floor.  Wonderful.  I felt like a kid again here, filled with wonder. 

Optic from Stevenson lighthouse.  They built every lighthouse around the Scottish coast between 1786 - 1938.  This was 
designed in 1867 and exhibited in Paris.

Millenium Clock, 1999

Beautiful architecture and use of light.

Weituo - a protective figure in Chinese Buddhism.  
This stoneware glazed figure was huge and fired in sections.

So there you have highlights of my time in Edinburgh.  I loved the stories and you will need to determine which ones are true or was there some embellishment.  The Scots are known for their great storytelling.  I hope as we move forward into our technical age that we don't lose storytelling and oral history.  I have known several wonderful and talented story tellers and they are such an addition to our lives.  I hope we don't lose the gift of gab.

In going back and proof reading this it seems to be rather grim. Gray, cold, executions, hangings, cemeteries. My next blog will be about Gent (Ghent) Belgium, a charming city. It will be much more light hearted.