Monday, September 16, 2019

On the Other Side of the Pond - Part 2

Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble. --Robert Louis Stevenson
I've always loved Edinburgh. I've been there a half dozen times, but it's been a good while since we last spent any time in it. It really hasn't changed a bit - I love it just as much as I did the first time I visited.

This was the first time I've arrived by train to Edinburgh, and this is one of the sites I was confronted with once we emerged from the station. I knew it was going to be a delightful stay:

We trundled along with our suitcases over to our Airbnb flat which was not far from the station itself. It was a humble affair: decent and clean enough, but kind of student-flat-like from the get-go. It was close to the university after all. It had a water tap in the kitchen that attacked you with the force of Robert the Bruce when you switched it on. Even the plumbing was decidedly Scottish. Not a big deal: we were there for the city anyway.

We dropped our things off and freshened up a bit and then wandered around for a while before hunting for some supplies for dinner. We were quite close to Holyrood Park and Holyrood Palace, so we found our down a few roads until we reached the parliamentary building, which has an impressive view of Salisbury Crags:

And then there was, of course, the castle itself, which is the official residence of the Queen when she visits Scotland. It was just slightly better than our Airbnb. I'm sure the water shoots out with just as much force, though:

There was the ubiquitous gift shop just next to it, which had all of the regular souvenir stuff, from fancy tea boxes to premium shortbread. There was even a pet section in it, with tartan dog coats and chew toys. I thought seriously about getting one of these royal pet dishes, but we'd never get Seymour to come down off his high horse if we brought this thing home:

I forgot how much Edinburgh is filled with just... really old stuff. Everywhere you look you'll see things made out of stone. It is probably why Edinburgh never changes much: it takes a millennia to wear down rock:

While walking up the Royal Mile, we spied this hidden little garden which was open to the public. I love finding these little gems in the middle of a busy city:

Of course, there are several hundred gift shops along the way. I was seriously tempted by these wee goodies:

I was also tempted by these outfits in the window. I went in to have a look at them, and they're cleverly knitted in plain wool and then decorated with needle-felted roving to make those beautiful flowers. I didn't buy any, but they were fantastic inspiration for me:

The next day was a bit of a slower day, as I had another maddeningly sleepless jet-laggy night. We wandered over towards the North Bridge to cross over into the old town:

We were aiming for Waverley Park, which is always incredibly green and lovely, even with the thousands of tourists milling around:

Edinburgh Castle is always an impressive sight. A massive castle built on a huge outcrop of volcanic rock is about as impressive as you can get:

Just below the castle is the Parish of St. Cuthbert, old and medieval and imposing and impressive. Agatha Christie was married here. It's just the sort of place I'd expect her to be:

I quite like going to old graveyards. I like to think about how the people buried there might have lived, and I like to quietly thank them for letting me visit them:

I love seeing the Scott Monument, built to honour Sir Walter Scott. I love that they devoted such a huge amount of effort to honour an author. I'm not sure such a thing would be built anything, must less an author these days:

The next day, I had a mission: to find a yarn shop. I looked it up on Google and we set a course for it.
But first, we decided to have a closer look at Edinburgh Castle. I was a bit wary of it because I was not particularly in the mood for climbing yet another hill on a holiday, but the hubby very cleverly planned a route that involved only a slightly inclined path until suddenly, there was the castle entrance:

Seriously, it's impressive:

And that's a proper castle view. If I had a castle, I'd need a view like that:

But I much preferred this view that day. This is McAree Brothers:

It was a sweet little shop that carried a lot of European brand yarns like Sidar, Rowan, and Wendy. I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but I have been wanted a skein with long colour runs in it to play around with. I found this one very satisfying. I am usually mostly attracted to jewel tones, so it surprised me that this watercolour-like palette appealed to me so much:

I also am not a big book-buyer, but the shop had so many knitted samples from the books that I just had to take home this Rowan Magazine 65. I may not make the exact projects from it, but I could see myself using portions of many of the patterns in my own projects:

After that, we sought out sustenance. I learned about the Scottish "buttery," which is the Scottish version of a croissant. It was light and flaky and delicate, but made for a proper Scottish sandwich: big and brutish and served with chips:

It sustained me for a few more hours of walking and sightseeing, which included this strange news stand. Yes, he's eating a cucumber. They were apparently "news agents, cucumberists and explorers." I found out later it was a marketing ploy for Hendricks Gin offering "a platform to depart from this monotony of routine and access the curious character present within us all." And why not:

It appeared that I had not escaped hill-climbing on this holiday as we decided to follow the signs for the City Observatory. It was lovely and interesting, but I do wish observatories could be a little closer to sea level. I know... that's not the point... but man, that hill:

But at least we got some more breathtaking views...

All that walking meant that we were eager to get to our bed because the next day we were flying to Belfast for another week of holidays. I'll share that in my next post!

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