Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

 
 
The second day in Scotland was just as busy, if not busier than the first! We finally got to eat a real breakfast! The hostel had a good breakfast line. I got scrambled eggs (whites – and they needed salt and pepper, but were ok), yogurt (dairy!), grapefruit, hashbrowns, sausage (I wasn’t expecting much…and didn’t get much…), and beans (didn’t know what else to get). I also had a bite of Katie’s haggis…I think one bite was enough for me. We went back to pack our stuff, and met Mike to go to the castle. Basically, Edinburgh has a castle (I guess historically it’s for defense) and at the other end is the Holyrood Palace (for fine royal living), and connecting the two is a street called the Royal Mile – it’s about a mile away.
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Edinburgh Castle
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Castle
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prison!
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Castle's Great Hall
We went through this stadium that was set up in front of the castle, for military festivals. Which reminded me of that scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park when they have the San Diego Jurassic Park amphitheater – not anywhere that huge, but I thought of that! The castle itself is on a hill, and has many levels of defenses, and a lot of cobblestone everywhere we walked. I really enjoyed it – there seemed to be a lot more there to do than there was at Windsor (though it’s not a royal residence, so that may have something to do with it). There was so much to see! There were walls to climb on (where they would shoot arrows and defend the castle from), cannons (so many of those), statues, museums, military and war galleries and exhibits and museums. It was up on the hill, and had beautiful views of rock, grass, and of Edinburgh below. There was a memorial and chapel to fallen Scottish soldiers. We also got to see the prisons of war – and walk inside them – barracks and cells, which was cool. There were Americans housed there in 1781 from the American War of Independence (that’s how it’s referred to there), so I felt a connection there! It was interesting to see their conditions – soldiers as prisoners of war seemed to have much nicer accommodations than common people (but were by no means luxurious). It was a great little whirlwind tour of the castle!

After the castle, we walked back down the Royal Model toward the palace, and ate at a restaurant/pub called Canons’ Gate. I had another meat pie! Beef this time. And it came with mash and lots of peas. It was also very good! It wasn’t a traditional pie serving, but with the stew on a plate and a crust laid on top – but it was still good. We also saw Formula 1 racing on the TV – interesting, since cars are not going around an over with one way turns for hours – but instead laps around a winding track for hours! And Sir Patrick Stewart was there, interviewed on tv at the beginning. I went out to look at some shopping – there was a Christmas Shoppe! Which was cute, but pretty much had only ornaments. I was tempted to be a 13.99 pound bagpipe Christmas music CD. Which I didn’t.
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Holyrood Palace
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Holyrood Abbey
Then we went to Holyrood Palace, home of Mary Queen of Scots, and still an official Royal Palace – in fact, the queen was there recently on her trip to Scotland! We also got our picture taken by a Spanish woman – puedo decir “gracias!” en espanol! They gave us an audio tour, which was funny when we all had the little things pressed against our ears. It was a nice palace – amazing detail to the ceiling plaster work, some large halls and courtyard, and obligatory spiral staircase. Also, there was a ruined abbey (historical) right there – the Holyrood Abbey I believe. And quite a colorful garden too. It’s a very different sense of history over here, not like in the US. There’s just nothing that old in the US – the sense of old here could mean 13th century, and “new” could be 1730 – there wasn’t even an America yet! So I feel that the sense of history is completely different. It just astounds me sometimes to see these historic and old places.  After the palace, I did a little more shopping, and went into a Starbucks (darn globalization) to get an Americano (though I notice Starbucks makes you add your own milk, at Caffe Nero or Costa Coffee, you have to ask for it white!), and a muffin for breakfast tomorrow.

Ahren, Tom, Steph, and Katie went to climb the Salisbury Crags earlier (hills/mountains overlooking Edinburgh, partly formed by an extinct volcano), and Adam and Alexis were thinking about coming up later, so I decided to go head up myself – after all, I’d only be here this one time! And with over an hour and a half left, I figured why not. I thought I could cut some time by not going on the huge tourist path, but up the side, the smaller path through the grass where you could see some footsteps – and some of the steps up I had to take were like at least a foot high, there were some areas where I could lean forward not a whole lot and have my face up close to the hill, so it was a bit steep in some areas. About half way up, I got to a flatter part and looked down – and thought this might not have been such a bright idea! But I kept going up (didn’t slip and fall all the way down!), got some beautiful pictures, and then got to the ridge where the main path was. It was an amazing sight from just there – I could see Parliament, the water body off of Edinburgh (the Firth of Fourth. Say that 3 times straight), and even taller hills/mountains, along with all the tall grass. It was beautiful, and no picture or words can really do it justice. I really wish I had a crane or helicopter shot, that would run up the hill through the grass, to come over the ledge and see the valley, or the lake and Firth and hills on the other side. It was breathtaking. But it doesn’t end there! I ran into the group of four heading down as I made it near the summit. We took pictures, and I stayed there to take a few more. I went up more almost to the top, and thought I’d turn around, but I went less than 100 yards before I ran into Adam and Alexis – and decided to go all the way to the summit with them! We made it up there, and the view was beautiful. Slightly dehydrated from the coffee (drank the water from my bag when I got there), sweating heavily, and quads sore, I was at the top, and I am so happy and grateful that I decided to take that opportunity, it was probably the highlight of my trip there! There were some people there, but it wasn’t super crowded. Some people were sitting on the rocks near the ledge. I took tons of pictures and videos! A woman from Missouri took our picture, with the incredible view. Edinburgh looked like a tiny toy city, and the hills looked like something out of Harry Potter or the Sound of Music. I wish I could have made a movie. And the tall grass looked like waves of wheat almost, blowing blissfully in the wind. We decided to start walking down, and it began to rain. So we pulled out the umbrellas – which wasn’t too bad, since we stayed on the gentler tourist path on the way down. It was a very fulfilling hike, and even though it was a spur of the moment decision (or I did it on the hoof? Maybe. Don’t think that’s the right way to use that), that was great.

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Salisbury Crags from the bottom
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It's steeper than it looks!
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Just gorgeous. That blue line in the back on the left is the Firth of Fourth
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View looking down (backwards I guess)
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You can see how steep the cliffs are, and the people walking up toward the summit
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Edinburgh from the top
We walked back toward the hostel – and stopped for some ice cream on the way back. We met up, walked to the station, and say bye to Mike, then bought dinner in a store. It was like a small mini grocery, but you can imagine the cashier’s surprise when Kriss unloaded a hand basket with 12 people’s worth of food in it. It was a bit overwhelming, and we made it to the train with 5 minutes to spare. I got a table seat with Nicole, Kelsey, and Tom (who switched seats with Katie halfway through). So it was bye to hills, sheep, countryside, and fake Kansas/Pennsylvania. I wish I could say it was bye to all the rain too! There was one point we passed a lake and a steam/smoke cloud coming out of the wood – which looked like the Hogwarts Express from far away! Had to take a picture of that!

We got back to the city, and on the tube with 2 Irish lads, who had apparently gotten on going the wrong way. We couldn’t help them to where they were going (didn’t know where it was), so they (to our humour) started cussing each other out – dropping lots of f bombs, and words I’d rather not hint to on this blog at each other (though not angrily, but in a half angry buddy way – Irish stereotype?) – it made a tiring night into an entertaining ride. I wrote my academic blog and slept very late – close to 2!

 


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