Edinburgh Sites

Aug 21

Edinburgh Sites

Hi all, our second day in Edinburgh was a smashing success! Yesterday, we didn’t do too much; just walked around for a bit, saw a comedy show,  and shopped at the craft booths along Princes Street (one of the main thoroughfare of the Fringe Festival). Unfortunately, we were having some hot water issues with the flat and had to wait for the owner to come by to take a look, so we had a really late start yesterday. Today, Ryder woke up an hour early to do some work for a client then we had breakfast, coffee, and headed out. We stopped at a bakery around the corner and purchased sandwiches for lunch and a fresh baked loaf of bread for dinner/breakfast tomorrow. It started to pour rain as we hiked our way up the first hill for the half hour walk to Edinburgh Castle, our main stop for the day.

Edinburgh is our first really hilly city and man its been kicking our butts (into shape, yay!)! We made the long, long hike up the steep hills to Edinburgh Castle which sits on an extinct volcano called Castle Rock. The first human settlement on the site can be traced back to 900 BC, but the fist castle built on the site was commissioned by David I in 1130 AD. This original structure included a chapel dedicated to his mother Queen Margaret, which still stands today. The castles history is full of historical conflicts including the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century, to the Jacobite Rising in the mid-18th century. It has been besieged, both successfully and unsuccessfully on several occasions and is currently the resting place of the Stone of Destiny and The Honours of Scotland.

We bought our tickets the night before so were able to bypass the long line and jump right into a free guided tour of the castle. Unfortunately Ryder and I are not very well versed in the Scottish language, I mean accent, and had a really hard time understanding what the tour guide was saying. We were in luck however, because we happened to be at the castle just before 1pm. At one o’clock every day an L118 Light Gun is fired from the north face of the castle. Originally the gun was established in 1861 as a time signal for ships in the Firth of Forth and in the harbor 2 miles away. The original gun was an 18-pound muzzle-loading cannon which needed 4 men to load. Today, one woman in a uniform came out and pushed a button to fire a blank and very loud round at exactly 1pm. It was a really cool thing to witness. Before the use of the cannon, a time ball was installed on the Nelson Monument in 1852 which drops from the peak of the weather vain at exactly 1pm. The gun was established later as the time ball is useless for ships during foggy weather. After milling around with the crowd to watch the gun go off, we traipsed on up to the top of the castle to see the Stone of Destiny and Honours of Scotland.

As I mentioned in one of our previous posts from London, the Stone of Destiny was originally used to crown the kings and queens of Scotland. We were able to see this stone on display along with other traditional objects used in Scotland coronations before they were ruled by Britain. After  admiring the stone and jewels, we headed down to the dungeons and prison of the castle. Here thousands of prisoners of war were held from 1757 to 1814 including American sailors during the Revolutionary War who were considered pirates! Ha! We found a carving one of the American’s did of the American Flag (or one of the versions of it) on a door to one of the cells. We left the dungeons and made our way out of the castle, heading towards Calton Hill, another high promontory of Edinburgh. Passing a few shops, we found the Tartan Weaving Mill, and went inside to view the looms and machines used to weave the beautiful patterns that make up scottish kilts and clan colors. Further along down the street, we met two performers passing out flyers for their show which was set to start an hour later. We were intrigued by their costumes and flyer so headed to the venue to pick up two tickets. We milled around the area, went into a pub for a glass of beer, then headed into the performance. We loved the show, it was very funny, entertaining, and well worth the wait and money spent. At one point one of the actors sat in Ryder’s lap, acting like an ape, and started picking through his hair! The show was called The Submarine Show and the two actors also performed the same act at the 2011 San Francisco Fringe Festival (click for a short video of the show).

We exited the theater and headed off for Calton Hill. We had a fun time hiking around the area, taking fun photos and enjoying the beautifully not raining weather. By 6pm we were famished and headed back to the flat for a dinner of gnocchi, mushrooms, and spaghetti sauce with bread. Tomorrow we plan to hike King Arthurs Seat 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *