August 23 – Edinburgh (Edinbura)

I got a bus/train pass at the airport which got me on the bus to Queen’s Station in Glasgow and then train to Waverly Station in Edinburgh.  My friend Tom reserved a room at a B & B (without one of the B’s) 6 blocks from the train station and Prince’s street.  Our hosts, Blair (Scottish) and Veronica (from Georgia) were very friendly and accommodating.  The room was small but comfortable.  The window looked out on the stairs and a view of the sidewalk on the next level above.  We shared the toilet (not bathroom in Scotland or England) with our hosts, although being careful not to use it at the same time.

We did a fair amount of walking around the center of the city.  The Fringe Festival is on, with thousands of events, so we went to a couple of one-hour theater events.  One was a group of 10 South Koreans who put on an amazing physical play about a commoner who wants to be the princess and learns the advantages and disadvantages of trying to play that role.  It was all done with song, vocal expressions (many of which I have never heard in quite that way before), English interpretation on a big screen behind them with no music other than what they expressed vocally.  They did a fantastic version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.  The other play was a nostalgic look back at the young culture in Scotland in the 60’s with funny skits about the songs, dances, way of talking, etc.  They were all talking English, Scottish style but we had a really hard time understanding more than one word out of 5.  We would have liked them to do what the South Koreans did;  have a screen behind them translating what they were saying,  Still, it was good fun.

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Behind the Mirror, a South Korean play, one of thousands at the Fringe Festival

After the plays we walked part way up the Royal Mile which goes to a castle that is dated back to the 1100’s but has remnants of humans over 3,000 years old.  It is high on a cliff and provided much security for many monarchs but also was the scene of countless battles.  I saw amazing architecture.  The “new” part of town has many buildings dating back to the 1800’s, one of which we stayed in.  The concrete stairs leading down to the apartment has a section on each step that has been worn down in the middle after over a hundred years of suffering feet.  I am adding a few of the pictures I took of the sights. 

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Edinburgh Castle at the top of the Royal Mile

At one point two Chinese visitors came up to us and asked if we would take a picture.  They handed the camera to me and I started aiming it at them and they motioned they wanted Tom to be in the picture with them.  One word:  “Einstein”.  Tom has this wild gray frizzled kind of hair that I also thought made him look a lot like the big E without the intelligent eyes.  So, after I stopped shaking from laughter, I took their picture.  They probably will go back to China and tell their friends they have to steal even more intellectual property because Einstein is still working.  Tom is a lot more interesting since he made this transition.  My stature may rise if I continue to associate with him.  I can’t compete on the hair thing though.

I learned about the unevenness of the sidewalks and streets the hard way (cobblestone hard).  I am okay.  But a warning: do not try to walk and watch a pigeon on top of Sir Walter Scott at the same time.

We had lunch at a restaurant called 1780 in an alley (one of many restaurants in alley or through “closes” which are small between-building entries into alleys and courtyards).  I had guinea fowl which was really good.  In the evening, we had a drink at Deacon Brodie’s on the Royal Mile.  He was a cabinet maker by day and robbed liquor stores at night and was hung for it.  A century later he was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Tom wanted to go to a Scottish Ceilidh (pronounced Caylee) last night which is a traditional Scottish social gathering with Gaelic folk music and dancing.  Lots of kilts.   He was fully involved, even without the kilt,  but I was content to just watch, rationalizing that I need all my energy for the hike.

The weather has really cooperated.  It has been cloudy but pleasant with long periods of sun.  We had a few drops of rain while dining outside last evening but it lasted only a minute or so.

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Street after street of these buildings, some built in the 1800’s.  We stayed in one of them.

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Amazing architecture above a statue of Sir Walter Scott

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The Melville monument demonstrating some people end up in high places.

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Another view of the castle from the Waverly bridge, near the train station.