Three days in Edinburgh, and the rugby world cup is all people want to know...
16.09.2015 - 19.09.2015 19 °C
After a quick drive from Dublin to Belfast, the ferry across to Scotland was pretty calm, and I am told, unusual. It didn't rain, and the waves were somewhere else, apparently. The weather has been pretty good across the board since I got here. Across the country (in an hour and a half) to my digs in Edinburgh, and more whiskey (hard to avoid in Scotland). Edinburgh is pretty much a cosmopolitan city like Melbourne, but with better architecture. You just walk less than a hundred yards along the Royal Mile in the city and have tea in a building that has been there since 1600 or so. The publicans and pipers on the streets wanted to talk about the rugby.
Spent all day at Edinburgh Castle on my first day (the castle guide wanted to talk about the rugby when he found I was from Australia), and the photos you will see have not been altered, these are like it was. It's pretty well been a fortress for over a 1000 years, with additions here and there over the centuries as one side or another captures it after a siege. They still fire an artillery piece called the '1 o'clock gun' to signal the hour from the top of the castle walls, supposed to be used to set the time in the docks (but does not take daylight savings into account). They had to bring the gun in because they realised the tower on the hill with a timepiece couldn't be see in the Scottish rain and fog (i.e. summer), so an audio signal was needed. The castle also houses the War Memorial and museum, and is still an operating regimental barracks. If you walk in through the wrong door you find yourself signed up in the Arygll Highlanders for three years.
Over the next couple of days, I climbed the Sir Walter Scott Monument (200 ft high, 287 steps up a spiral stair), which gives great views across Edinburgh, especially since the sun was out again. People keep telling me it's Scotland, of course it will rain, but I am yet to see it (see pics). Went to the museum, which also has great views from the roof, a really good collection on Scottish history, and staff from Australia and New Zealand, who all wanted to talk about the rugby. Then more whiskey, this time as part of a walking ghost tour at night through Edinburgh; after a couple of drinks, you half believe the stories, too. The story of Burke and Hare, and the bodysnatchers, is the best, since it is actually true and documented (look it up).
My last day I went to Rosslyn Chapel (if you have read/seen The Da Vinci Code, or are of the Freemasonic persuasion, you will know where I am talking about). This is probably one of the oldest still operating churches in Scotland, and is still the family chapel of the Sinclairs family, who built it in the 1400s. Plus if you believe all the loonies, nearly every sacred relic in religion is hidden there somewhere, including the Holy Grail, Ark of the Covenant, and the True Cross. I think the lens cap from my camera is also there somewhere. They also asked about the rugby.
Back across towards Glasgow in the afternoon (the other side of the country again), and I will be here for the next week. Should find somewhere to watch the rugby...