Scotland, Part 4

We woke up early and left Malcolm's house in Stirling and drove back to Edinburgh to attend the Edinburgh Ward once again. It had only been a week since we were last there but it felt more like a month. We had experienced so much and I felt like we knew way more about the country than we did our first time around. After church, we went downtown. It was hopping because there was a festival going on.

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We ate lunch in the Grassmarket at a place called Oink. We had tried going there the week before but they were already sold out. We had some delicious Scottish hog roast.

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After lunch, we went to check into the hotel. It was such a relief to know that we could check into a hotel for the week. We finally knew where we would be sleeping and there was not a chance that it would be in our car! We returned our rental car with 1,000 miles more than it had when we picked it up a week earlier. That night, we Skyped with the boys and had Chinese takeaway for dinner.

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 The next day, Sam went to his training and I rode the bus into downtown Edinburgh. My first stop was the National Museum of Scotland. It was overwhelmingly large. I think I could have spent the whole week in there. I decided to pace myself and see as much as I could without running through the place.

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The Millennium Clock commemorates human suffering in the 20th century. It chimed every hour and had a lot of strange and interesting depictions.

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The museum was full of a lot of random things from all different centuries.

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Prayer wheels

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Because Sam wasn't there to experience things with me, I took pictures of maybe-boring-to-most-people things so I could remember to tell him about them. That is why I have a picture of the super powerful hand dryers in the bathroom.

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Coffin of Khnumhotep (c 1938-1755 BC) and a child (c 1292-1190 BC).

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Mantua and petticoat worn to a ball at the Palace at Holyroodhouse in 1760.

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Victorian porcelain ewer

I really liked that the museum had chairs hanging on the walls. "Tired feet? Why not borrow a seat?" Brilliant.

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I took a break from the museum so I could eat lunch. I went to a small shop and bought a bag of apples and then went on a walk through Middle Meadow.

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 I peeked into a few shops.

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The Referendum has some passionate people on both sides.

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I walked around the museum for a few more hours then jumped on a bus back to the hotel. It was a welcome sight.

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We were on the fifth floor and had a beautiful view.

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We had Indian takeaway, Skyped with the boys, and crashed. I think I walked ten miles that day.

On Tuesday morning, Sam went to his training again and I boarded a bus and headed back to the city center.

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I went to the Scottish National Gallery. I had to carry my backpack on my arm which was very strange.

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I do not know how to appreciate art. I am not cultured, I suppose. There were some beautiful paintings but I had to read every description and even then I was not fully appreciating them. There was definitely no surmising what the artist was feeling as he/she painted.

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"Hideously ugly old woman"

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At one point, I took a picture of every single painting in a room before seeing the "No Photography" sign. I quickly deleted the pictures, packed up, and headed out. I was way too far out of my element.

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Next was the Museum on the Mound. I only took one picture in there but I saw a stack of one million pounds which is approximately how much I felt we had spent on the vacation thus far.

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I wandered into St. Giles' Cathedral and there was an orchestra playing. I found a seat and listened for over an hour. I learned it was the Orchestra Giovanile Diego Valeri from Italy. They were so good. I was never as good as the worst kid in that orchestra.

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After that, I walked up the Royal Mile and saw an awesome shop called Thistle Do Nicely. So clever!

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Edinburgh Castle was getting ready for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in August. Huge bleachers were set up for it. It takes three months to put them up and three months to take them down.

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On my way back down the Royal Mile toward Holyroodhouse Palace, I saw a group getting ready for a free walking tour. Sounded great to me so I signed up. It was a four hour walking tour and I learned so much about Edinburgh! The tour guide told a lot of fun stories. Some were urban legends and some seemed a little more possible but all of them were entertaining. This walking tour really helped me figure out the layout of Edinburgh city center and I felt like I could find my way around very easily after it.

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Edinburgh Castle

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The doors to this toilet open once 20 pence is put in. The toilet is cleaned and disinfected after each visit. Twenty minutes max, then a warning is given and the doors open.

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JK Rowling walked through Greyfriars Kirk graveyard to get inspiration for character names for the Harry Potter books. The graveyard has 350 headstones but they estimate there are 50,000 bodies buried there. McGonagall was a horrible poet who got banned from Dundee while performing his poetry because he was so bad that people were throwing things at him and it was becoming riotous. Tom Riddle and Moody are also buried there.

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Graves were being robbed and then the bodies were sold to Robert Knox at the medical school for dissection. People would rent a cage for three weeks to cover the grave of their loved one until the body was too decomposed to be used for the medical school.

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Through the gates of the graveyard, we saw a very cool-looking school. It is what inspired Hogwarts. Rowling sat at The Elephant House while writing the first Harry Potter book and could see the school outside the window. The school was founded by Jinglin' Geordie. He founded it to be a school for poor children. Now it is a very hoity toity school.

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Greyfriars Bobby stayed by his master's grave for 14 years. Now people say it is good luck to rub the nose of his statue.

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The birthplace of Harry Potter

The tour guide said that the highest Scottish honor is to have a pub named after you. So as we walked by two pubs, we learned the stories of their namesakes. Maggie Dickson was publicly hanged. She was pronounced dead and the body was on its way to burial when the coach driver heard knocking on the coffin. Maggie was not dead after all. They dragged her back to the town square to hang her again but she had already been executed once and justice had been served so they let her go. She lived for 40 more years and people called her "Half Hangit' Maggie." Another pub was named after Deacon Brodie. His story inspired Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

That night, Sam and I walked a few miles to get dinner from a little hole in the wall that was delicious. As we were ordering, about three thousand men walked by and they had all clearly been pre-gaming. They were headed to the Celtic vs. Reykjavik game. We would have had to walk back to our hotel for more money and then come all the way back for the game so we decided to take our Italian takeaway home and eat it in bed. I did get told by a drunk guy, "If I had more time, I would totally ask you for your number." If I had more time and he had been a little less drunk, I would have been flattered. I showed him my ring and laughed.

The next morning, I got yelled at by a bus driver for not telling him I needed an all day pass. Oops. I was a little rattled from that but carried on and went to the Botanic Garden.

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I wish that I had brought a book and a blanket. I think I could have stayed there all day.

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I went back to the Royal Mile and walked around the Royal Museum of Edinburgh. This is the National Covenant. In 1638, in Greyfriars Kirk, the Covenanters signed a document known as the National Covenant. It called all Scots to band together against religious and political changes imposed on them by King Charles I. These protests lead to civil war in Scotland, which in turn influenced the civil war in England. The Covenanters took advantage of the English Civil Wars and made an attempt to impose their own religious beliefs on the English people. After the civil war in England, the Covenanters lost their power in Scotland and were persecuted. It is estimated that around 18,000 Covenanters died defending their beliefs in the 50 years after signing the National Covenant.

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The museum looked small but it was large and maze-like inside. I am not sure if I saw everything in there because I was very lost. This was hanging up to celebrate the Commonwealth Games but I took a picture because we had seen those horses, The Kelpies, in Falkirk but I could not get a good picture of them.

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If you heard "Gardy Loo" while walking the streets of Edinburgh, you would want to take cover. They didn't have running water so after 10pm, those on the upper stories would throw the contents of their chamber pots out the window. It was quicker and easier than climbing up and down the stairs. This was outlawed in the 18th century but the people who lived in the closes and alleys just carried on as before. That's why Edinburgh was known as Auld Reekie. I would like a sedan chair so I didn't have to step in something or worry about things landing on my head.

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The Royal Mile was full of street performers. There were some strange ones (like people dressed as Shrek or swallowing balloons) but there were also really cool ones (like this guy doing spray paint art).

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That night, I went out to dinner with Sam's group from the training. We went to a super delicious restaurant called First Coast. I ate so much and thought I might explode. It was great.

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1 comment:

Olivia said...

Love all the photos!! The architechture is amazing and those gardens are lovely. I am with you about the blanket and a book.

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