Scotland – Day 2

We slept in a bit on Friday morning after our late night at the festival.  Then we packed up and headed out.  Just as a side note- I tried a new method of packing for this trip that I want to remember.  We were staying in three different hotels and so instead of packing a suitcase for each person, I packed a suitcase for each hotel.  That spared Richard from carrying in multiple bags to each place.  I had one bag that had all our toiletries and things we would need each night.  The system worked quite well and if we do another trip where we are changing locations regularly I think I’ll do it again.  

We walked to a little Scottish restaurant called “Auld Jock’s Pie Shoppe” and had a traditional Scottish breakfast.  I didn’t take a picture but I found this one online.  It includes bacon, sausage, a potato scone, haggis, black pudding, toast, beans, tomato and mushrooms.   I LOVED the potato scones but wasn’t so much a fan of haggis or black pudding.  (I dare you to go read what black pudding is.)  But we also had chocolate chip shortbread, croissants and some other shortbread treats.  Shortbread treats are my new favorite dessert, and on holiday it is perfectly acceptable to eat them for breakfast. 

Picture

This picture has a hashbrown, which we had at one of the B&Bs we stayed at, but usually they included beans, which are missing from this picture. (Think pork and beans.)

After breakfast we walked back up the Royal Mile toward the castle.  It was sunny and pleasant but windy and cool up on the castle hill.  

There were more fun buskers to see, and my parents (who were walking separately from us) saw a hovering Yoda that sounded really cool.  

The views from the castle were amazing. It occurred to me that if I lived during medieval times, when countries and cultures were always at war, a castle on a hill would feel reasonably safe to me.  You can see people approaching from all around.  

The history at Edinburgh Castle, and all throughout Scotland was so overwhelming to me.  I wished I knew more, or had read more.  It was hard to understand when Scotland had it’s own King/Queen and when it was under English rule.  There were bits and pieces that sounded familiar, like William Wallace or Mary Queen of Scots, but I didn’t know any details or have any kind of broad understanding of historical context.  But I’m motivated to learn more and get some books from the library.  

In the United States, the history of our country that we learn about in school is more or less 300 years.  But when you get to these countries in Europe, they have a “civilized” history of 2000+ years.  When I told Richard that I felt completely lost and confused with Scotland’s past, he said 

“Just wait until you visit Rome.” 

Yikes. 

Picture

A stain glass window of William Wallace in St. Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle. The chapel itself was built between 1124-1153 AD.

The Edinburgh Castle is located on a hill that has been occupied since the Bronze Age, with various structures at the site built over the last 900 years.  It served purposes as residences of royalty and also as a military fortress.  It contains the “Royal Honours” of the Scottish crown.  You know that scene in Frozen, on coronation day, where Elsa is crowned, and holds the scepter and orb? Those are symbols of royalty commonly used in European coronations.  The Scottish regalia include a sword, a sceptre and a crown.  Photography wasn’t allowed.  
My parents had already spent a few hours at the castle the day before, and we were just not on our game so we didn’t stay and see everything at the castle.  It was also chilly when the clouds came in, and crowded and like I said, historically overwhelming.  So we left the castle and went to eat lunch.  It would be lovely to have a travel nanny, that could entertain our kids so we could read every plaque and visit every museum, but we just make the best with what we’ve got, and try to pay attention to the kids and their attention spans and energy levels, and appetites.

We ate lunch at a really tasty vegetarian restaurant in downtown Edinburgh, where we could stay out of the forthcoming rain and rest a bit.  Then my dad left to go get train tickets up to our next destination.  My mom found a public records library where she wanted to make some family history inquiries and we took the kids to Calton Hill to see the National Monument and climb the Nelson Monument.  

Picture

The National Monument from the top of the Nelson Monument.

The National Monument was built in 1823 as a memorial to the Scottish soldiers who died fighting in the Napoleonic wars, but it was never finished due to lack of funds.  

The Nelson Monument is a memorial to a famous Scottish Admiral, Horatio Nelson, who fought in the Napoleonic wars.  He was killed in the Trafalgar naval battle, but was a hero.  I didn’t get a picture of the monument itself, but it was designed to look like a telescope.  We climbed the stairs to the top for some spectacular views, but my photos didn’t turn out well because it was raining.  

We met up with my parents and walked back to the hostel to get our baggage and our car.  They got on the train to North Queensferry and we drove and met up again in a charming little seaside town, at our hotel.  The Albert Hotel. 
When I walked into the hotel to check-in I looked everywhere for a desk or counter.  All I could find was the pub, where there were men sitting at the bar who looked like this was their evening ritual, to just chat it up with their neighbors.  It was so quiet and quaint.  I went into the pub and asked 
“Where do I check in?”
“That’s right here darlin’.” 

The hotel was old, and classic.  It wasn’t fancy but it was full of charm.  Crown molding, high ceilings and chandeliers.  We loved it.  We unloaded our things, went for a little walk down to the pier, and then came back to the hotel to eat dinner in the pub.  (There weren’t really any other options.)  We were all pretty exhausted so we went straight to bed. Well, Richard and I went to bed with the littles,  but apparently Cameron and Eli stayed up watching a movie with Baca and Grandpa.  

  

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