Friday, July 3, 2015

Day 37: Edinburgh Castle

Chicago is as flat as a pancake. If it weren't for potholes our 4 wheel drive cars would have nothing to do. I don't know why we have to know how to park on a hill when we don't have any. 

So when I stepped out of the Edinburgh Waverly train station today, I didn't think anything about the policeman who told me to walk up through a door way that said "Fleshmarket Close"

I thought it was a cute sign meaning something was closed. Instead it was a long staircase that connected Market Street to Cockburn street. As much as it hurt to go climbing up the close(Scottish for alley), it was totally worth it because I ended up in Old Town. 

It was full of personality, people and character. Maybe it was because the sidewalks were crowded with outdoor caf├ęs and people strolling about with random cars flying bye on the downward slope that just made the scene dynamic and fun.

So after I caught my breath, I walked down. The street just curved down and met up with Market street again. I thought there would be a lot of people going to visit the castle but I didn't see a lot of people. But it didn't faze me because I saw the street had a 45degree incline! 

After I thought I would pass out from the western sun shining right into my eyes and my knees would crumble, I ended up on The Royal Mile which led straight into the castle.

The changing of the guards was occurring just as I walked up and everyone was bunched up, sadly, I came in just as they were finishing up.

Maybe it was because the climb had me hot and sweaty but the minute I walked through the castle portcullis, I was immediately enamored by Edinburgh Castle.

I immediately climbed up on the wall and looked over the turret and was awed by the sight of Edinburgh laid out before me. The castle had the perfect vantage point. I was also lucky because normally there is a fog that can cover the city, today there was nothing but a clear view.

I could see all the way to the Firth of Forth, an estuary that flows out to the North Sea. Remember the North Sea? I stood at Ostend by the North Sea and now I was in Edinburgh close to the North Sea again.

That was the North view and it was gorgeous, then just as I was enjoying the sun and the view, a strong breeze took my breath away with its strong northern chill. 

Edinburgh Castle had a lot of things to see, National War Museum, The Royal Scots Regimental Museum even a Dog's Cemetery where the beloved dogs of the officers serving in the castle were buried.

St. Margaret's Chapel was so small, I wondered if only the royalty was allowed. 

They did an excellent job on setting up the exhibition for the Honours of Scotland: The Scottish Crown Jewels. The story of how it was hidden from the English, then stolen by them then recaptured back had me thinking why they hadn't made a movie yet? I'll have to find out.

But what proved to be really touching was the Scottish National War Museum. I had gotten the audio guide so I listened intently when it reminded me that this was a memorial, something to be treated with the respect and solemnity for those who gave their life in service for Scotland, so no pictures!

I walked in and not only were certain wars engraved on the walls, but each wall/war had a big red book where the names of the fallen had been written.

I don't like war, it is about death, sacrifice and loss. No one ever really wins a war. But you cannot detract from the people who sacrificed themselves so others may live lives of peace. It was small, in comparison to many other memorials, but it was moving nonetheless.

I could have stayed there all afternoon long, if only I had a place I could sit down and look at the city below me with out being mercilessly dangled from the end of a cannon. 

But I went to everything I could go to with the exception of the Prisons. It was an interesting exhibit, from what I saw but I could not go into the belly of the castle for the rocks walls were obviously original, but I was really disturbed by the smell. I was the same way when I went down to David's Tower, which was actually the bottom part of the Tower and there was a smell that I didn't like. 

I walked on The Royal Mile thinking it might be easier to find my way back to the train station. At this point I have no battery left in my phone and so I didn't used the GPS. 

I knew I hadn't come up on The Royal Mile, so I found another one of those tight alleys, Anchor Close and walked down.

Then finding myself back on Cockburn street, I wandered into a store, walked through it and found myself on another street. I had inadvertently walked out into North Bridge and had to find my way down to the train station. I found a set of stairs that said it would lead down to Market Streets so I walked down. I was fascinated by the different color marble steps.

It was cool until I got to the part where someone had set up a sleeping bag, one person still sleeping in it, and the smell of pee and unwashed body made me walk a bit faster.

Then I found my way back to Glasgow. Which is smaller than Edinburgh but since all I did was manage to not get lost in the central district, I can't really see too much about it except that a friend pointed out that this square doubled as Philadelphia in the movie World War Z.

I walked down Buchanan street where it's closed off from vehicular traffic and seemed dedicated to shopping and happy hour. 
All in all a lovely day spent under blue, crisp, clear skies. 

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