Friday, September 25, 2015

Edinburgh, Take 2

After three days in the Highlands, we headed back to Edinburgh. As we were packing up the car, I looked at one of the mountains and suddenly realized it was familiar!  Check this out:
 The last time we were here, there was digitalis (fox glove) in bloom, and sheep beneath the rockslide.  We took pictures of the kids, posing with the sheep in 1996.  This is Adam.  I tried to quilt the rockslide, with grey thread.  It gets lost in the dark green, but wow.  Same place.  There was some deja vu going on as we left.
It had rained a LOT while we were at Glencoe.  Mountains literally ran with water.  Waterfalls were plentiful, where the day before there were none.  The creek that flowed by our Inn was raging when we left.  It was moving so fast, a couple of kayakers had pulled over and were getting ready to launch down the white water that had been a mere creek the day before.  It was incredible.

I had my husband pull over at the first viewpoint.  ooh!  aah!  Look at all that water!
 As we were getting ready to leave, a family from Minnesota pulled up, accompanied by a loud hissing sound.  They got out to discover a tire that went completely flat over the course of about 2 minutes.  They'd hit a pot hole.  The daughter was on a one year grant, to study handwovens and knitting in the UK.  How cool is that?!  I was wearing a handwoven shrug, that she greatly admired.  Turns out her mom used to live in Visalia, and studied geologic formations in the Sierras.  Small world!  We chatted at length, while the men changed the tire.
 Pete had been talking about The Trossachs, The Trossachs, blah blah blah The Trossachs.  He never told me what they were, because he'd never been there.  Instead of retracing our route to Edinburgh, through the cute little towns that I wanted to stop in, we drove alongside Loch Lomond, on the side that's just vegetation.  It was beautiful.  And boring.  I didn't take many pictures, as it all looked the same.
We finally emerged at the south end of the lake, and turned towards Stirling.  But when he saw the sign that said, "Balluch Castle," he turned in.  Apparently he'd read a lot about it, but didn't remember the particulars.  I thought the visitor's center looked abandoned, but he wanted to investigate anyway.  I'm not sure why the photo is turned on its side.  We ended up walking through this HUGE park, to the castle...which was privately owned and closed to the public.  oops.  It was a lovely walk.
 We hit the road again, when suddenly, "Do you see them?!  Holsteins!!  Can we stop?  Please?  Please, please, please?"  It's a bit unnerving to see a grown man so desperate.  Sure, fine, whatever.  Go see the cows.  We pulled in and he talked to them and walked alongside, being careful not to touch them.  All countries are very particular about possible transfer of disease.  I could tell it pained him, but listening to their mooing seemed to do him good.

 After about 10 minutes, we got back on the road.  Hey!  What's that up ahead, on the hilltop?
It was Stirling Castle, one of the favorite castles of all the monarchs.  I particularly like this photo, with the bales of hay in the foreground.  We visited Stirling the next day, so I'll give you more pics in my next installment. We continued our drive back to the airport, to return the rental car.  Here's a helpful hint, if you're going to rent a car in Edinburgh.  I think it was 300 pounds to rent a car from the airport for 4 days.  A few days later, we rented a car from Waverly Station for 2 days.  It cost 900 pounds to rent from Waverly Station.  If you want to rent a car, get it from Edinburgh Airport, and save yourself some serious coin.

We took a cab to our new digs, 24 Queen St.  It was an Air BNB, advertised as a "snug."  And snug, it was!  oh. my. goodness.  You climbed a ladder to the sleeping loft, which was immediately over the chairs in the main space.  The main space was so small, that only one of us could open a suitcase at a time.  But it was a great location, and we were within walking distance of lots of good restaurants.
Our cabbie had asked us if we'd come to town for the fireworks.  Fireworks?  What fireworks?  It was the last day of the Festival, and Virgin had sponsored a spectacular fireworks display, to be accompanied by the Philharmonic.  wow.  He said that 300,000 people were expected at Princes St. Gardens, but it was probably sold out. 

I was very tired, and didn't really want to walk any more.  Have I mentioned the miles upon miles upon miles that we walked?  I wore out two pairs of shoes!  But Pete said, "We're here, we should at least go see..."  And so we did.  This is just a fraction of the crowd that did not have tickets.  I don't know if you can see it, but the crowd is wall to wall people, all the way up the street (on the left), as well as lined up along the street above us.  And this was a sideways view of the Castle, which was the launching point.  Many of the displays were above the treetops, but many were also hidden from view.  The music was wonderful.
 I have to say that I was very glad that we made the effort to see this.  Edinburgh's Festival Fireworks left Disney's Phantamagoria - was that what it was called? That's the last commercial fireworks display I've seen, and it was 20 years ago - in the dust.  This was SPECTACULAR!  If you go near the end of the season, be sure to see the Tattoo, and then stick around for the closing ceremonies and fireworks.  You'll be glad you did!
Next up:  Two days in Edinburgh: so much to see, so much to do!


Barbara Sindlinger said...

Can't wait! Loving the show.

Patty Young said...

Am enjoying your travel blog!