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Scotland – Day 4: Edinburgh

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Itinerary

Morning city sightseeing with a Local Guide introduces you to the 200-year-old “New Town” and famous scientists, inventors, and novelists. In the “Old Town,” drive up the narrow Royal Mile to EDINBURGH CASTLE to admire Scotland’s Crown Jewels, then explore HOLYROOD PALACE (except when the Queen is in residence). The afternoon is free to enjoy this “Prince of Cities” at your own pace.

Sightseeing

Our day began as expected – with uncertainty. Tropical Storm Katia hit northern Scotland the previous day. The winds were strong enough to close Edinburgh Castle. Its high, prominent location leaves it vulnerable to windy conditions. Flying tourists are not a good thing. Holyrood Palace, the Queen’s residence, is also always in danger of being closed when she’s currently residing there or when State ceremonies are ongoing. The news was that the Palace was open, but the Castle was up in the air (figuratively). John, ever adaptable, re-arranged our tour to visit Holyrood first, in hopes that the winds would die down later.

We proceeded to have a tour guide on the bus show us around Edinburgh. While being constrained by what you can see out of the bus windows, it was quite nice not being out in the weather.

Holyrood Palace

Afterwards, we visited Holyrood (still open!). Photographs are not allowed inside, so you’ll only see backlit photos from outside. The palace was suprisingly interesting. I think because it’s still in use, which makes it easy to imagine the people there and doing whatever it is that royalty does. Our guide gave us a tour but we were welcome to do what we wanted. The audio tours are free, so we used our headphones and listened at our own pace (more or less).

The adjacent Abbey was more photogenic, but we had little time left.

Edinburgh Castle

Word on the street was that the castle was open! The bus dropped us off on the Royal Mile and we walked a ways up to the castle gates. The bleachers you see in the photos are the remnants of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tatoo. I was not interested in this so I scheduled our tour for afterwards. Unfortunately, the bleachers were still there, marring great photos. Alas.

The winds were still extremely strong. We struggled to hear our guide at times. He gave us a couple of quick tours and suggestions and from there we were on our own to explore the castle at our leisure.

Shopping

We spent the rest of our afternoon walking and shopping around the town. Of note was Jenners, an old-fashioned department store. Not to be outdone by the Marks & Spencer next door with the shortest escalator I’ve ever seen, Jenners had the smallest elevator I’ve ever seen.

Speaking of elevators, with one exception, all of the ones we encountered did not have a ‘close doors’ button. Not sure of the actual reasoning behind this, but it seems like a grand idea. Thinking on it, I can’t think of a polite reason for that button to exist.

Night

I was hoping to get some night photos of the city. With the cold and windy conditions I didn’t really want to go out but made myself anyway. We hiked down to Princes Street to get some photos of the Castle and the area at night. While one of them came out pretty good, the other two are only acceptable at small sizes. I needed a long exposure and with the wind, the camera was not able to stay very steady.

I did try out my latest toy, the Gorillapod SLR-Zoom. In short, it was something of a failure. It is very strong and stiff, so much so, that it is very to position the camera correctly. While I definitely prefer this over a normal tripod for travel, to me, it’s almost useless without the accompanying head (next purchase).

Full Gallery – Day 4

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