Monday, September 29, 2008

Forging up the hill to the Castle and Down the Royal Mile

We emerge from St. John's into the cold, clear sunlight. We are going around on the hillier side of the park -- a way Rowan and I have not yet been.

So, these are the views of the graveyard as we leave the church.

The graveyard.

... and a stone carving that I liked.

This is the view, looking toward the castle, which is a bit further away. We are walking up the hill toward the street.

So, our plans are to walk to Edinburgh Castle and then down the Royal Mile to St. Giles. Both places are extraordinary in their own right. I am very excited for Wry to see these sights, and I am interested to see how my memory has held up.

The first view of the Edinburgh Castle, as seen through the trees around the park. We have made it up to the street. As we walk, the sidewalks are full of people and some are dressed in their best, clearly on the way to the wedding. It is nice to see. Coming around the corner, we come on an unexpected sight.

It isn't really alien technology -- it is a Farmer's Market! My Southern California heart is happy.

I was tempted by many things. The coffee smelled nice.

We knew our daughter would appreciate Chairman Meow.

The Farmer's market is on Saturdays and the location just can't be beat. A nice contrast between the old and modern.

The castle in the distance. I like this view, because you can see just how difficult it would have been to defend it.

Some of the booths.

Er. Not something I would see at home.

And flowers! I would think it was too cold to plant, but there were flats of bulbs, ready for the garden.

Very British.

I almost got the oatcakes, but I passed. The farmer's markets in California do not have porridge, by the way. Yet another little difference.

We drift along, looking at each booth and, too soon, we emerge.

However, we are now very close to the castle. This aspect is one that Rowan and I didn't see last time.

There is a little alley that will lead to the parking lot and the ticket booth.

Now, I could explain why this picture is here ... or I could just let it speak for itself. In case you don't know what it is, it is a men's restroom. The restrooms are different in the UK than in the US, and I mentioned this and I asked Wry to take a picture of one, so that I would remember that I wanted to talk about it.

As I was discussing the great restroom photosafari,Wry asked me, in a rather snippy way I might mention, if I wanted a picture of THIS restroom, and giving back as good as I got, I said immediately, that OF COURSE I did ... The battle was enjoined. Would he go into the restroom or admit defeat? And this is the picture. And I kind of like it. Are all men's restrooms so utilitarian? I find myself a little jealous. It looks like you could throw a pail of bleach from the doorway and douse the whole place.

Walking up the alley toward the castle. It looks cold ... because it is cold.

A view of the city. Sweeping.

Turning toward the parking lot. Rowan leaves us to go get tickets and it is a surprisingly long wait. Not Disneyland-long, but long nonetheless.

Me leaning against the wall, patiently waiting. I have a stripey hat. Rowan texts me from time to time.

I like the rain spouts on the walls.

We are just in time for the One O'Clock gun! You can see it, pointed downward.

The officer comes out to set off the gun.

The gun raises and -- precisely at one o'clock, it fires.

It is so loud that, even though I am completely expecting it, I jump about a foot into the air, completely ruining my video. Not that YouTube needs yet another video of the firing of the gun.

We walk up the hill get in and realize that we are cold and hungry.

The Castle has a nice little restaurant -- we go through the line and I am happy to see that there are cheese scones and jam and hot coffee. This is my favorite meal, I think.

I an in heaven. Rowan and I juggle our trays and find Wry seated in the best seat in house. The headphones are for the audio tour, which is well worth it.

The view over the city over Wry's shoulder.

Some views out of the window.

It is nice to see the city from the warmth of our seats, sipping coffee.

We walk up to the top of the Castle -- we are going to work our way down. This is near the very top, near St. Margaret's Chapel. It is the oldest surviving part of the Castle.

A view from the heights.

I love the cobbled walks. I imagine all of the feet that have walked here before me.

We walk around the path and step into the chapel.

A nice niche.

The view to the right.


And to the left.

The chapel from the outside.

Looking out, over a cannon. At one point, I completely lose both Rowan and Wry, but we eventually meet up. I make a mental note to make sure that we have our little walkie-talkies next time.

We wend our way out of the Castle, walking down the narrow stairs.

And out of the archway.

And out the front entrance.

We head down the Royal Mile, heading toward St. Giles.

To me, the red door is quintessentially Scottish.

Lots of shops down the Mile, most of which are touristy shops. I like touristy shops.

I just like the architectural details.

We come up to St. Giles ...

The cathedral dates back to 854, as a parish church.

"According to legend, Giles was accidentally wounded by a huntsman in pursuit of a hind and, after his death in the early 8th century, there were dedicated to him hospitals and safe houses for cripples, beggars and lepers were established throughout England and Scotland within easy reach of the impoverished and the infirm. St Giles is usually depicted protecting a hind from an arrow, which had pierced his own body."

It is a lovely place, cool and quiet, with utter sense of timelessness. There is a chapel that we were not able to see the last time we were here, with astonishing wood carvings.

It is the Thistle Chapel, and it is dim, but you can just see the carved ceiling.

A little more detail.

It has a musical motif, with little carved angels playing various instruments.

"The Thistle Chapel was designed by Robert Lorimer and finished in 1911. It contains stalls for the 16 knights, the Sovereign's stall and two Royal stalls. The chapel contains a wealth of detail, both religious and heraldic, and much of it peculiarly Scottish, including angels playing bagpipes."

I managed to not get a picture of the bagpipe-playing angel. : (

I liked the dogs -- very herald-tastic.

The Lamb.

These are the stalls, off to either side.

It is a very different feel from the rest of the cathedral, wood rather than stone.

The stained glass, however, is lovely.

We exit out of the Thistle Chapel and enter the Cathedral, and it is just breathtakingly lovely.

Each window is wonderful, telling a different story.

St Giles' was founded in the 1120s when the Scottish royal family, the sons of Queen (Saint) Margaret and King Malcolm Canmore, especially David I (1124-1153) made strenuous efforts to spread Catholic Christian worship throughout the Scottish lowlands.

There are numerous altars flanking the main part of the Cathedral.

One of the inlaid floors.

This is the carving above the floor.

There are remnants of the Norman church this used to be.

And the Gothic influence.

The arches and pillars are typically Gothic.

Beautiful, no?

We leave the Cathedral and walk down the Royal Mile.