The Eskimos have thirty-some words for snow because snow is omnipresent. The Scots have lots of words for rain, maybe not thirty, but a lot! The day we arrived we had a “Blaw Bye” (showers), and on Saturday we had “Dreep” (drizzle) in the morning. Eventually it cleared up and the weather was nothing but bright clear blue sunshine.
There was “dreep” in the morning when we headed off to tour the Castle on the high hill. This was a day when we ended up walking over 9 miles (when one is walking to fun places or into great stores like Jenner’s, the distances do not seem so long). Luckily we were early and had bought our tickets on line. When we left the Castle a few hours later, the lines were extended almost to the gate of this huge castle. Once inside, it was easy to see why this structure had never been challenged in an invasion. What a dreadful place to have been prisoner. We left there with the realization that Britain has been in wars for hundreds of years all over the world… from China to India and now the Middle East.
A tour of Mary King’s Close was well worth it. These “Closes” were flimsy structures that were built under the ground as Edinburgh was running out of space. The term Close comes from the word enclosure and the people who lived there were certainly enclosed. The tenements were dark, dirty and terribly unhealthy. These dwellings, which were only partially above ground, were dug into the sandstone which was adjacent to the basalt structure on which the Edinburgh castle is built (the Edinburgh area is very volcanic). Amazing how for 200 years 30,000 people lived primarily in these “houses”.
We found that when seeking out fiddle music you have to specify “traditional” and then it’s hit-and-miss as to whether you get fiddles or guitar and traditional ballads. We saw one group with a guy singing ballads backed up by one of two fiddlers, though one fiddler did a trad. jig melody, and a young guy with a guitar doing 70’s – 80’s covers.
One oddity we noticed. Edinburgh has lots of tourists, young and old. One gadget popular with the younger crowd is the “selfie-pole”, a 2-meter pole attached to a smart phone used to take selfies further away than an arm-length. Not sure if it’s cool or just another useless gadget. Makes us wonder such a pole might help us as we have not mastered taking selfies!
Though the time went quickly in Edinburgh, the city seems very familiar to us, and we leave with still lots to see and do. We’ll be back at the end of our trip for two more days, to stay in our little garret room on the fourth floor of the Royal British Hotel. We loved the staff there and the hotel in convenient to everything.