Sunday, November 10, 2013

Edinburgh, the first 24 hours

I realize I haven't posted much about my time in Edinburgh. So I will do something about that.  This post is about my first 24 hours in Edinburgh. I had been in Edinburgh twice before - in 1975 on my first trip to the UK (is there anywhere I didn't go that trip?) and then again in 1981.  Both times Edinburgh was dark, dank and dreary.  I wasn't in any hurry to go back however I have been reading blogs of travelers who absolutely loved it so I figured I'd give it another try.  And I am glad I did! 

Robynn (one of the people I walked the Great Glen Way with) and I arrived into Edinburgh by bus from Inverness on Tuesday September 17th.   We were both tired as the heat in the bus was going full blast the entire journey despite asking the bus driver to turn it off.  I did enjoy the journey and we went through some quaint towns that I have not been to yet...Pitlochery for one.  Next time!!  I got my ticket through Megabus online - for one pound plus a 50p booking fee.  You can't beat that for a journey of just less than four hours!! 

We stayed in the Shandon area of the city with our airbnb host Becky.  The room was adequate for our needs and very reasonable as well. (always important!)  Becky was friendly as was her son and the student that was staying with them.  I've said it before and I will say it again - I prefer staying with locals rather than a hotel.  I am hooked on airbnb!

Becky's son raced up the stairs with our luggage...oh to be young and fit....and we got settled into our twin room.  We were both tired so went for a short walk around the area picking up something to eat back at Becky's place at a small grocery store across the street.  I got myself a lamb casserole which was nice...yeah I know...tried not to think of all those sheep on the walk....looking at me.....Robynn had an early night and I sat at the table in the living area uploading pictures and talking to Becky.

The next morning we headed off into town on the bus.  We went to Edinburgh Castle but there was a long line so we decided to just meander around town.  I did get some shots of the castle exterior and the views from the main area before you need a ticket!

As you can see it was a beautiful day out there.  We stopped in a record store where Robynn wanted to get a CD by Runrig  The tour guide had been playing a CD on our tour to Skye and she loved it.  So she was able to get it and I got the best hits CD.  Enjoyable!  We went over to the Grassmarket area where public executions took place a couple of centuries back.  One of the more famous ones was Maggie Dickson, a fish wife who was hanged for murdering her baby.  She was hanged and then put in a coffin- while being transported she woke up in the coffin.  It was decided she had served her punishment and let go.  She was referred to later as "Half-Hangit Maggie" and there is a pub in the area named after her.  Shortly after, "hung until dead" was added to the execution sentence.   

Here's Maggie's pub as well as the smallest pub in Scotland - unfortunately did not get to visit time! 

Note the writing on the sidewalk

We then headed off towards Greyfriars.  I have been a fan of the Greyfriars Bobby story since I saw a Disney movie of it as a child.  Of course the Disney story fabricated it as they tend to do but being a bit of a dog fanatic I fell in love.  It is now a bit of a controversial subject as to whether this really took place the way it's been told...but I like to believe it.  I did buy a book that says "The Real Story at Last" and I've taken some of the facts below from this...

Here is the Readers Digest condensed version of the story of Greyfriar's Bobby...Once upon a time there was a very loyal doggie who loved his master....John Gray was a policeman who obtained Bobby, a Skye terrior as a watchdog back in 1856.  Together they patrolled the slums of Edinburgh.  Sadly in February of 1858 John Gray died of tuberculosis or consumption as it was known back then.  Bobby came to the funeral which was held at Greyfriar's Kirk (church) with Mr. Gray's wife and son but refused to leave, sleeping on the boards which covered John Gray's grave   At first he was chased away but faithfully came back to his master's grave and slept by the grave for years until his death.  He was fed by the locals and every day would go for a meal to the pub below. There are many theories of his life and in his declining years he was taken in by a family where he slept at night - still staying out during the day in Greyfriar's Kirk.  No wonder my childhood dog loving self fell in love with him!   So here is a bit of Greyfriar's Bobby memorabilia to enjoy:  

Bobby's grave - this was erected much later...

Bobby's collar

Bobby's feeding cups.
Original picture of Bobby

Statue of Bobby near Greyfriars Kirk
I think it's safe to say I am a bit of a Greyfriar's Bobby groupie!  We even had lunch in the Greyfriar's pub! 

We then carried on to the Royal Mile and St Giles Cathedral which was absolutely beautiful inside.  

St Giles cathedral - church of Scotland

I love stained glass although I would prefer flowers on it...or Paul McCartney!!! :)

We then walked along the Royal Mile for a little bit...looking in shops...this is a road that goes from Edinburgh Castle on one end to the Palace of Holyrood House on the other end.  We didn't get as far as the other castle...I did that another that will be another blog post!

Royal Mile - notice the sea in the distance.  Next time!

Royal Mile

Nelson's Tower and the Scottish National Monument - never made it up here.  Next time!

We were in the Old Town (medieval) - then we walked over to the New Town (built between 1765 and 1850) and did some shopping.  

Back to the room and after we had the salads we had picked up Robynn had an early night (7 p.m.!!!!!) as she had to get up at 3:30 to catch her bus to the airport.  I sat in the living area and worked on the computer. And that was my first 24 hours in Edinburgh...this time around... stay tuned for the next 24 hours...

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