Saturday, July 24, 2010

Storming the Castle!

Breakfast at Pollock Halls is quite the experience.  The place is full of folks speaking in several different languages.  Some are here as tourists, some as students, and some for the golf being played at St Andrews.
We, of course, are the tourists. 
The stage and seating as seen from the ramparts of the castle.

Edinburgh Castle is built on top of an ancient volcanic core.  Splendid location, but at the moment the front area is a giant stage with grandstand seating.  Rod Stewart played last night, with someone else tonight.  Then the Tatoo is in August.  On either side of the main gate is a statue, one of William Wallace and the other, Robert the Bruce, both very sacred to Scots and their independence.   There is a piper who plays at the top of the walls every hour.  He has quite the repertoire.

Robert the Bruce.  Or is this William Wallace?  Not really sure and they didn't have a sign!
The Piper.

The weather is co-operative for our visit.  When it does start to rain, we just pop into one of the buildings  until the squall blows over.  The castle houses the Scottish Crown Jewels, which, unlike the British, were hidden from Cromwell's goons, who destroyed so very much.    The National War museum is also here.  We particularly enjoyed this, as all the items were personal, with the owner not only attributed, but also introduced as to what he did in the military.  Some were Victoria Cross recepients, but most were just common solders and sailors.  The Museum of the Highland Regements had music playing that was recorded in Baghra, Iraq, as the Regement is currently stationed there.  The CD won several awards.

The Doggie Graveyard, where dogs of the Regements have been buried since Queen Victoria was on the throne.
Where American prisioners of war were kept during the Revolution.

Took us most of 4 hours to see everything in the castle.  By this time we were tired of shuffle walking.  Leaving the castle, we strolled the Royal Mile, down Princes St.  Statues of Sir Walter Scott, John Knox, Lord Hume and others line the street which is over run with shops selling souveniers, kilts, all things made of wool, and pubs.  We finally stop at a pub with outdoor seating, as the weather is beautiful, by Scottish standards.  There is nothing that says 'I'm on holiday' as much as sitting outside with a pint watching the world stroll by!
This is a big fireplace, which they need, since if it's this cold in July what's it like in January?!?
Weapons on loan from the Tower of London.

Dinner is at a small Italian trattoria, Positano.  Since we don't have a reservation, they say we have to be finished by 8, but no problem, as we are famished and it's only 6:15!  The food and service are brilliant!  We may have to come here tomorrow, as well.  We stopped by the pub from last night to sample a pair of Scotch Whiskys.
Need to make a call?  Phone booths are available!

How much is that Doggie in the window?  He was the owner of a Whisky Shop!

Back at Pollock Halls, we decide it is too early to stay in for the evening, so we head for the bar.  The place is busy with mainly the tourist crowd.  We visit with a woman from Italy who had come for the Rod Stewart concert last night!  A 40+ year old groupie!   Then we strike up a conversation with the man in a kilt who has sat next to us.  He is a native Scot, now living in Oslo working for the military there until he can retire back to Edinburgh.  Very interesting....  I asked him what he carried in his sporan.  He laughed!  'My wallet, there are no pockets on a kilt!'
The Bar at Pollock Halls.  The older couple were here for the British Open at St Andrew's.

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