With a visit to Edinburgh Castle, our final day in Scotland was a relatively busy one.
We took an Uber to the "Royal Mile", which is a large shopping district not far from the castle. We turned up hill and started walking towards this monolith of stone and brick which looms over the city of Edinburgh. Seriously, there's nowhere in the city you can go an not see this castle.
As we walked along, we noticed a gathering of people on the sidewalk, stopping to get their picture taken with an owl. A really big owl. For a donation you could don this massive leather glove and the owless (I dunno'; what do you call a woman with an owl?) would set the owl onto the glove and your loved ones could snap away. Jessy went first, and then it was my turn. As big as this animal was, I was surprised at how light it was:
|Me and the owl. I named him Carl...|
|Scope out the talons on this monster (photo by Jessy Parr)...|
After our owl encounter, we walked towards the castle.
Sitting atop what is known as Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dates back to the 12th century and the reign of David I. It was a royal residence until the year 1633. Since then, its role has been primarily military in nature.
|A portion of Edinburgh Castle...|
The castle and the grounds are both enormous and expansive. You could easily spend an entire day here and not see everything. Aside from just the architecture of the building seen from the outside, the sites inside the buildings are equally impressive.
Two of the more noteworthy exhibits, sadly, did not permit photography (hence, I shall steal official photos from the web and attribute them appropriately). The first exhibit were the Crown Jewels of Scotland. The crown dates from the year 1540, the sword from 1507 and the sceptre from 1494.
|The Crown Jewels of Scotland (photo sourced from the web)...|
There were no less than six guards in the "Crown Room" where the jewels are displayed, and they were very, very cognizant of anyone who walked into the room holding a camera. Unlike the Sistine Chapel in Rome, I wasn't going to chance taking pictures here. I got away with it in Rome. I had zero confidence I would get away with it here.
The second display which was off photographic limits was the interior of the Scottish National War Memorial. The insistence here is that the reverence of the place precludes photography and, as much as it pains me to admit, it does.
|This sculpture of a unicorn, at the entrance to the memorial, was completed by Phillis Bone in 1927...|
The oldest building in Edinburgh Castle and, in fact, one of the oldest intact buildings in all of Edinburgh, is St. Margaret's Chapel. It was built in her honor during the reign of her son, David I (1124-1153). It's still used today for services, weddings and baptisms and, for a small donation of £2 you can get a booklet which tells you everything you may ever want to know about the chapel.
|The chapel is very small, holding no more than about 20 people...|
As you would expect, the views from Edinburgh Castle are sweeping and absolutely stunning. You can see anything and everything in the city from here.
|Looking from Edinburgh Castle towards the Firth of Forth...|
|Edinburgh, and Calton Hill in the background, as seen from Edinburgh Castle. Waverley Station is on the right...|
|St. Cuthbert's (L) and St. John's (R) as seen from Edinburgh Castle...|
If you visit Edinburgh Castle, wear comfortable shoes (well, that's true for anywhere, I suppose) and be mindful of where you are at any given time. At one point, I gave Jessy a heart attack when I almost went backwards over a wall, thinking the wall was higher than it actually was as I leaned back towards it. I just kept going backwards and managed to keep myself from falling. I'm glad that didn't happen. That would've hurt.
We were both getting a bit tired, so we decided we would grab some dinner along the Royal Mile before heading back to the hotel. We opted for Deacon Brodie's Tavern. William "Deacon" Brodie was a respectable businessman and tradesman during the day, but turned to burglary, to fund his gambling, at night.
|Deacon Brodie's, along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh...|
|Our appetizer was mashed potatoes, mashed turnips and, you guessed it, haggis...|
|This was the Steak & Nicholson's Pale Ale Pie, and it was ridiculous...|
|And it was reduced to table scraps...|
After dinner, as we walked down the Royal Mile to buy trinkets and souvenirs, it began to dawn on us that our trip was coming to a close. The Uber ride back to our hotel would be our last in Scotland, and we'd taken a lot of them. But it was a great trip, and one which I don't think I would mind taking again sometime. The sad reality is that, on a trip like this, there's so much to see and rarely enough time to see it all.
But that's what makes this whole traveling thing so much fun...