Tuesday morning, slightly brighter and earlier than usual, we packed our bags and left them in the flat while we put on our walking shoes and headed back through Holyrood Park, past the Queen's residence, Scottish Parliament, and up the Royal Mile.
The Parliament Buildings are very controversial, having cost over 8 times the initial estimate and taking three years longer than expected. They cost over 400 million pounds. The design is also quite controversial; Scottish Parliament placed fourth in a 2008 poll on what UK buildings people would like to see demolished! I kind of agree.
Parliament is at the base of the Royal Mile, which is lined with shops that are a real tourist trap.
This is the Parliament building from around the corner.
The wall on this side has quotes scattered on it. They are all from Scottish poets or other famous people.
Speaking of Scottish poets, this is Robert Fergusson, being pitifully mimicked by me. The poor wee lad died in a lunatic asylum when he was only 24, but he was very prolific when alive.
I love the way people here express their displeasure with the establishment. This roughly knitted afghan says it all.
We wondered what it was all about, but then we walked across the street and saw this: a building has been demolished, leaving only the facade.
Up, up, and up some more.
And we were finally at the top, having bravely ignored all of the siren calls of the shops.
There were, unfortunately, many tourist groups, but we did a fine job of avoiding them for the most part.
There's something about a cannon that is very appealing.
Jeff has no pretensions to being anything other than an American tourist, and he asked this gentleman if he could take his photo. Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm not with him.
Edinburgh Castle has lots of smaller museums on the grounds. My favourite was the dungeons. They have housed many different kinds of prisoners, and among them were Americans and their allies from the Revolutionary War. They also housed prisoners from the Napoleanic Wars and the Seven Years War. The prisoners were treated fairly well, except for the Americans, who received less rations and supplies than anyone else and were kept longer. The prisoners became quite ingenious at making things out of unusual materials, even forging bank notes by making dies out of wood and bone from their meat rations.
These boxes were made of straw.
They slept in hammocks or on pallets.
Some of the best things in museums are the mannequins.
Oh wait! That last one is real! He was just down the hill from the castle, so we contributed to his pot of cash and sat down to listen to him. He was raking in the money, I estimated about 100 pounds an hour. Not a bad gig. I asked him if he took requests and he nodded, so he played Scottish Soldier for me. He didn't exactly play with passion, but beggars can't be choosers.
Now here it is with passion.
On the way down the Mile, we found a fudge shop that makes dairy-free fudge that tastes as good as the creamy kind, so we bought some for the d/f grandkids. I forgot to wrap it in a plastic bag until over a week later, so hopefully it will still be delicious.
The Royal Mile is split into two one-way streets, so you only have to worry about cars and buses going in one direction. We did a bit of shopping on the way down, but most of the merchandise was made in China, so I didn't get too excited about it.
We walked back to the flat and picked up our bags and headed out of Edinburgh to Rosslyn Chapel, which, according to Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code, was the supposed home of the Holy Grail. . Or was it? This stop was for Jeff, as he was fascinated with the topic, but he was disappointed and decided, after listening to a talk in the chapel, that it was all a bunch of hype. Which, you know, I could have told him.
And on we drove. The stop at Roslin was somewhat spontaneous, so our route to Haltwhistle, our next bed for the night, was a bit of an unknown and the satnav was in charge.
In the early evening we decided to find a place to eat, so got off the highway at a town called Lockerbie. We ate a rather gourmet meal at a pub and got talking to an elderly couple next to us. They said, Oh, you must stop at the Garden of Remembrance.
Okay, we said, totally clueless, we have time for that. We followed their directions and as we drew closer it dawned on us.
And I wiped a tear or two away as I thought of all of those lives cut short by hatred.