Thursday, November 7, 2013

Scotland: Edinburgh

"Every true Scotsman believes Edinburgh to be the most picturesque city in the world."
-- A Summer in Skye

Edinburgh certainly has a special magic about it that continues to woo us back to her again and again. I personally would never turn down a chance to visit.

When we lived in Scotland it was a big journey to get to Edinburgh from Airdrie, about 25 miles to the west. We had to take the train 30 minutes into Glasgow, wait around and then take another train 1 hour into Edinburgh and then repeat the process on the way home. Since we've been back in the States, they have re-opened the train line direct from Aidrie to Edinburgh. Oh my what luxury! Forty or so minutes on the train and you are right in the heart of Edinburgh! If only that was the case when I would travel there with little babies!!! Anyway, we had to experience the new line ourselves.

Coming up out of the train station and heading up towards the old town this is the site that greets you. The white building with the orange trim has always been a favorite of mine.

Edinburgh was hopping with life since it was just after the annual Festival. Streets were busy and performers were everywhere.

In the midst of all that we just "happened" to bump into a friend from Pittsburgh who was visiting his daughter. What a surprise!

The kids just couldn't get enough of all the street performing.

And of course I can never get enough of the red telephone booths.

Our first stop on our first visit to Edinburgh was to take the children to the Edinburgh Castle.

Even Laura wanted an audio guide.

Enjoying the view down toward the Firth of Forth.

The oldest building on the Castle grounds is St. Margaret's chapel, dating from the 12th century. Apparently, military weddings are still conducted inside!

We got to see the Scottish crown jewels and review the story of Sir Walter Scott re-discovering them in the 19th century.

And we went through the royal apartments and even saw the tiny closet where King James I/VI was born.

As always, I love the architecture and the sense of history that pervades the air everywhere.

Such beauty in the buildings. No one takes time or money for these things anymore.

And then we began our trek down the Royal Mile, once again passing various performers.

Trying to take in all the sites and people and sounds and history.

Rachel stopped to buy a celtic ring.

And every now and then we all ducked into one of the souvenir shops -- since the children all had their money saved up!

Eventually we reached St. Giles where John Knox served as minister for some time.

Inside we walked around and looked at the various tombs and stained glass windows and even a copy of the 1638 National Covenant in which the Scottish people bound themselves in a covenant to worship Jesus Christ. Here Michael is explaining to Rachel about Archibald Campbell who placed the crown on King Charles I's head and then later was beheaded by King Charles because of his adherence to the covenant.

And we had to get a picture of the kids next to John Knox's statue since Michael and I have our own pictures from years ago.

Then we went around back and found the parking spot that marks where John Knox's grave is.

Half way down the royal mile we turned off to head to my favorite street -- Victoria Street and the Grassmarket below.

I just love all the colors of this street and the shape itself! And, of course, the fact that so many interesting or beautiful shops make this place their home.

Used bookstores:

Lots of beautiful flowers:

A knitting store!

And, the favorite of the boys, the joke store!! (which was visited again on a subsequent trip)

Visitors of all kinds were seen on the streets:

In the Grassmarket we paused at the Covenanter Memorial and talked with the children about all the people that had been put to death on this very spot because of their adherence to the National Covenant and their refusal to acknowledge King Charles as THE head of the church and the one who could dictate how people must worship.

Just up the way a bit is Greyfriar's Kirkyard, which of course is famous for Greyfriar's Bobby.

But, more significantly, it is the place that the National Covenant was signed by the masses of Scottish people that congregated there to do so. Later on in the struggle between crown and people this place became a prison for captured "covenanters" as the signers became known. It was the site of much hardship, pain, and death.

There is much to look at within the grounds of the church.

And there is a monument specifically for the covenanters that died in the Grassmarket, acknowledging their faith and the stand they took for what they believed.

Greyfriar's Kirk:

And around the corner from the church is a statue of Bobby:

Since we were in the right vicinity, we had to stop at my favorite Edinburgh cafe for tea. Friends introduced the cafe to me within the first month of our arrival in Scotland in 2001 and from that point on I took many friends here.

Menu options:

Our loot:

Yay! here we are enjoying our tea! And, if you look out the windows you will see Greyfriars Kirkyard again.

Here is the front of the cafe. It is also famous for being a place that JK Rowling frequented while writing Harry Potter.

We took up quite a bit of sidewalk space just trying to move our gang here and there!

Last stop was New College at Edinburgh University.

One more statue of John Knox which used to be out on the Royal Mile but was conveniently moved to this hidden courtyard in recent years.

As the afternoon was drawing to a close it was time to make our way down from the old city to the new and walk along Princes Street to Haymarket to meet up with dear friends.

And after a delicious dinner it was such an easy thing to hop on the train and be back in Airdrie in no time at all!

(BTW, should anyone traveling to Scotland be interested in Reformation History, Michael and I highly recommend the Scottish Reformation Tours as we know them personally and have greatly benefitted from them over the years.)


elizabeth said...

what beauty; My husband and I talk often about the beautiful old churches and how it was the work of the poor immigrants (at least where we live) and now that most are more affluent, they have ceased building beautiful things and sadly many have left the churches that their families built in times past, and here not that long ago past (100 or so years is not that long).

Blessings on your weekend.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...


Anonymous said...

Continuing to enjoy your pictures and stories of Scotland. Thankyou so much!

Esther said...

We have happy memories of a day in Edinburgh with Michael 9 years ago (despite an inundation of anarchists!). So glad you guys got to go back and share all those beautiful places with your younger ones.

Silvia M. said...

I've been to Edinburgh twice and I've always wanted to go back. There is something about Scotland that just takes hold of your heart.

Anonymous said...

Oh thank you so much for the photos. I do not believe I will ever get there myself, but it sure is nice to see photos.
blessings, jill

Linda said...

Glad you enjoyed your trip to Edinburgh! I work very near the Royal Mile but try not to take its delights for granted. And I was working in New College for a couple of days recently - lovely friendly place, both staff and students.

Kathy said...

I loved seeing Edinburgh and reading your descriptions. This is someplace I would love to visit. You brought it alive for me. Thanks.

halman said...

I have visited England and I have some android mobile apps which work as audiogudes. They are great. You enjoy more your trip in this way.