This morning start much like our others. Up and downstairs and ready to board the bus at 9am. However, this time we did not have Brian joining us. Instead our local guide Shawna boarded and gave us a guided tour with Arthur at the wheels of the bus.
We drove to the “New Town” part of Edinburgh which which dates back to the 1767. It is very well planned out with straight streets, gardens, and squares. My kind of organization! This part of town was designed for the wealthy, so it was top notched housing ages ago. We drove past several houses that have distinct historical connections. For example, we drove past the home where Alexander Graham Bell was born.
We drove down to another street and saw the home of Lord Lister from 1870-1877. He is famous for coming up with the concept of antibacterial. He went around the world speaking including the US, where two doctors Johnson and Johnson heard him speak and if you put all the pieces together…..bandaids, Listerine, etc. all came down the road.
The last house that we stopped at was the home of author Robert Louis Stevenson who lived in this house from 1852-1880. He was a child when they moved here.
The tour continued drive up Prince Street where some of the more higher end shopping is done today. We drove past Jenner’s Department store which she compared to as the Scotland’s version of Harrods’ Store in London. I’ll had to admit that during our free time this afternoon I returned and found a very nice new sweater that I needed.
We past the Walter Scott memorial which has over 60 statues from his books and is 287 up to the top. (I opted not to do that today!) By the time I got back there in the afternoon, 12 steps was going to be more than I could handle.
Anyway, we continued up to Queen’s resident when she is in Edinburgh – Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen is obviously in London waiting for the arrival of her newest great-grandchild, so that made our parking much easier. While we didn’t explore the house, we did take some pictures and enjoy a little time in the gift shop.
From there we went to the Queen’s Park which was just amazing. Such great views of the city and the park was gorgeous. We even saw a Swan with her 4 youngsters which I understand is most rare. In Great Britain, it is still law that if you mess with a Queen’s Swan you can be sent to the Tower of London for beheading because it has never been repealed from centuries before. We all stayed clear just in case.
From there, it was a short drive to Edinburgh Castle. Shawna continued as our tour guide around the outsides of the castle. It is just breathtaking and amazing to see how many layers there are to the castle. Built on top of a volcanic mountain, it is just huge and very hard to get into…which was the point. Basically whoever has control the castle has controlled Scotland. Here are a variety of images of the castle. I took tons, so trying not to overload the blog!
After Shawna was done, we were on our own for the rest of the day until dinner. Everyone kind of headed out in a variety of directions, so I just took off as well. As part of our city tour, I had seen a little Christmas shop that I needed to visit which was down the Royal Mile. It of course was at the opposite end that I was at, so I popped in and out of shops along the way. I have gifts for the family almost done….and maybe a treasure or two for me as well. From there I headed over to see the National Museum of Scotland. They had a wonderful exhibit on Mary, Queen of Scots that was recommended to us. Spend about 30-45 minutes exploring, but no photos allowed. From there, I headed over and saw the statue of Greyfriars Bobby. This little dog followed his master to the graveyard the day they buried him, and remained living on top of the grave for another 14 years until he died and was buried in the grave. Such devotion from a little dog even though over the years they had tried to get him to leave. People brought him food and he remained guarding his master. I found a picture book about him that I bought, too. Legend has it that if you pat his head, you’ll make sure to return. I did!
After that I was tired of walking and ready for lunch. But, before that I walked past two important places in Children’s Literature history. The little cafe where J.K. Rowling started and wrote the first Harry Potter – The Elephant House and a little ways down the street the Balmora Hotel where she rented some sweets to finish the last book!
From there, I was ready for lunch….well, it was way past lunch. So I grabbed a sandwich and ate it in the park across the street. Careful to keep the birds from it. After lunch a little more shopping and I was done. I headed back to the hotel to meet the group for dinner. I got a little turned around a few times, but eventually got here just in time to change clothes and board the bus. We had Italian Scottish tonight where I got a lovely pork chop!
Tomorrow we head up to the Highlands and Lock Ness. Got my eye out for the monster!