Friday, October 09, 2015

3 Days in Edinburgh

`Our next stop after York was Edinburgh.  I chose an airbnb place within walking distance of the train station and I had drawn a map, but it was full dark when we got there and right away we were struck by the difference in scale with York.  

York had those narrow twisting streets - not everywhere but largely.  And it was flat.   Ediburgh is not flat.  At all.  
And the streets are very wide.  Turns out they were designed so that a horse drawn wagon could make a U-turn.  I guess that takes a lot of space because it felt like the street itself was half a block wide.  And the buildings in our neighborhood were 4 stories and rather monolithic.  We were in the New City, so called.  New in the sense of being only 150 years old or so.  I don't actually have any photos here of New City.  It just didn't impress me after York.

It was tough pulling our suitcases along these huge streets in the dark, having that fearful suspicion with each turn that we might be going the wrong way.  I was kicking myself for not hiring a taxi, as we were really beat by the time we found our building, which at least was down a very long hill.   And then there were four stories to climb with out suitcases.  Oh.  My.  God.

Our hostess was waiting with the door open and showed us around.  The apartment was gorgeous, with old wooden and slate floors, 12 foot ceilings and huge windows.  The bathroom was really posh (a British word I've adopted) with an enormous tub and seperate glass walled shower.  

The next day we clambered down the stairs to set off for the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.  For some absurd reason we ignored the bus stop which was right in front of our place and trudged up the very long hill.  Bad move.  4 pounds each would buy us an all day bus pass (which we bought the next day), but by the time we made it to the freaking castle our legs were so tired!  Funny how they put castles way up on top of hills, right?

Edinburgh Castle was very grand indeed, but neither of us had any desire to explore it.  Which is good as it was really expensive!  Instead we started off down the Royal Mile taking 2 or 3 hundred photos a minute.  About half way down we found a guided walking tour and learned a bit about Edinburgh.
This is Edinburgh University, in case you were wondering.
This is St. Giles church.  It wasn't originally.  It was meant to be dedicated to the king's wife, who got sainted at some point.  But there was this story of Giles the hermit, who loved animals so much, when he saw the king shooting at a doe, he stuck his hand out to block the arrow.  The arrow shot Giles through the hand (there's a carving depicting all this above the main door).  The king was mighty impressed, got the dude sainted and hey presto!  He ends up with the big cathedral in Edinburgh.
This is the view from the entrance to the castle.  The photo doesn't really capture the magical feeling we had there.  This was taken on our last night.  
There some really gorgeous pubs in Edinburgh.  Almost made me wish I drank beer.
Here's another one.  This was Deacon Brodies Tavern.  The sign shows him with two personas: prosperous business man and robber.  He led a double life and was, perhaps the inspiration for Doctor Jeckle and Mr. Hyde.  Robert Louis Stevenson was a local hero, apparently.   Another inspiration might have been Edinburgh itself (according to our guide).  Once the New City was set up the old city quickly degenerated into a filthy, disease-riden slum.
Behind India is Arthur's Seat.  It's the highest point around and overlooking Edinburgh.  It was a massive challenge for India.  Both our legs were sore, but hers had been massively cramping up.  I didn't think we were going to make it but then somehow she mastered herself and the whole rest of the trip there were no more problems walking. 
Almost to the top.
Okay, this is the top.  You can castle below.
This was the high point of our trip.  Literally.  Not subjectively.  

One thing that was really shocking in Edinburgh was the littering.  Even up here, at Arthur's Seat, which has to be a relatively holy site.  I don't know if it's the Scots or the tourists or what.  We saw virtually no littering in Chester or the Cotwolds, but we did see some grown men and 20 something young women leaving their rubbish on the trains.  It was really they thought their mommy would come along and pick up after them.

I guess they never had that crying indian public service ad.

We had a good time in Edinburgh and loved our apartment (despite the stairs).  But our next stop was Chester and that turned out to be our fave.

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