Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Scotland, Day 1

It doesn't seem possible we were only gone four days. We saw so much, heard so many stories, emerged ourselves in the history and romance of Edinburgh and the Highlands. There is too much to tell, too much to remember, too much to show. It would take longer than four days to write about our experiences.

There is so much we saw and did that I'll break up the posts to make them shorter.


Waiting with Susan and John and SU students at Platform 1 of the King's Cross Railway Station early in the morning.

Spot at King's Crossing Railway Station where a scene from a Harry Potter film was shot.

Susan, John, and Benedict playing Uno on the train.

The train passed through York and Newcastle. Shortly after Newcastle the train followed the wild coast of Northumbria in north England where the Vikings invaded in the Middle Ages and where missionaries such as St. Colomba and St. Aidan, the saint that Benedict chose to do his report on in 5th grade, worked to convert the Saxons in the 7th century. Shortly before entering Scotland we could see in the distance the Holy Island of Lindisfarne where St. Aidan founded a monastery in 635 to train boys to become missionaries. The castle is still visible from the coast. The monks here created the famous Lindisfarne Gospels, now kept at the British Library, with its brilliant illuminations

Our guide for the weekend, Mike, met us at Waverly Station in Edinburgh (the station is named for a series of novels by Sir Walter Scott) wearing his kilt. Here he is speaking to Kirstie, CAPA's representative on this trip who helped keep everyone organized. Benedict, John, and Susan listen in. Mike gave us a quick tour of Edinburgh on a bus before dropping us off at the Holiday Inn Express and leaving us to our own devices.

This was the view out our hotel window. The Firth of Forth is the body of water in the background. The city is absolutely magnificent. The city center area is basically divided into the Old Town, the very old section that lies inside the walls of the Edinburgh Castle, and the New Town, which was developed in the 18th century. The architecture of each was completely different. According to Mike, our guide, the Old Town was the first place in Europe with taller buildings, some of them reaching 12 stories. The New Town was the first development laid out in a grid system.

 After resting in the hotel for a bit, we went out and explored the city.

The Conan Doyle Pub across the street from our hotel. Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was a Scotsman. Edinburgh has a rich literary history.

The Royal Bank of Scotland. With only a population of about 440,000 people, Edinburgh attracts 1 million visitors and remains one of the the top ten financial centers in the world.

A bagpiper near the Sir Walter Scott Monument.

The Scott Monument. Sir Walter not only was a prolific and favorite writer of chivalrous historical romances and poems. He did this while pursuing his main career as a lawyer.

View of Old Town from the Monument.

This is a view of New Town from the Monument.

In Old Town, going up one of the medieval streets.

The name of the pub, The Royal Mile, is also the nickname of the street stretching approximately a mile from Edinburgh Castle on the top of Castle Rock to Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of the Queen, at the bottom of the hill. Some of the street is closed to autos.

Benedict looking at a tam o'shanter in one of the many shops along the Royal Mile.

This tavern commemorates the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Deacon Brodie was a respected citizen by day and a notorious scoundrel by night. He was executed near the tavern.

One of the many churches on the Royal Mile, St. Giles Cathedral is an example of the Norman style. The church is absolutely massive. The link describes its old (everything here is old) history.

St. Giles in the background.

A statue of the greatest English language philosopher, David Hume, dressed in a toga. The statue makes him look much more slender than he actually was.

Not far from Hume's statue is this statue of Adam Smith, the author of the seminal work in economics, The Wealth of Nations.. Smith and Hume were great friends. Born near Edinburgh, Smith taught at the University of Glasgow and was an important moral philosopher in his own right. He spent his last few years in Edinburgh.

Smith's grave site at Cannongate Kirk, also on the Royal Mile.

Someone had left a couple of dollars within the fence of Smith's grave site. Just out of reach.

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