We had some new experiences today: first taxi ride and first (and hopefully last!) hospital trip. Now don’t get all worked up…it’s not a big deal. We’re both ok. The front of Justine’s ankle had been hurting her for a couple of days and instead of continuing to worry about it we took our free afternoon and turned it into a hospital trip. It was surprisingly easy to get helped at the hospital! By far the quickest ER trip either of us had made (and Kristin’s made a lot of ER trips in her life)! It turns out she has tendinitis on the top of her foot towards her ankle. Nothing serious at all (and she had herself convinced she was dying). All she needs to do now is walk a bit less, elevate and ice her foot and take some drugs. Nothing she can’t do. All is good, and hopefully back to 100% in no time!
But now for our day!
We started with showing a nice Russian family the way to the Royal Mile. We must look like we know what we’re doing because people ask us questions and directions quite often…but then again we must actually know what we’re doing because we’ve only once been unable to actually help them. We then walked the length of the mile from the castle to the palace.
Right beside the palace is Parliament. The Scottish parliament buildings were built in 2004. You might wonder why, in a country so wonderfully old, their parliament buildings have ended up in such a new building…we wondered that too and soon found out why this was. With the joining of the Scottish and English crowns all parliamentary business was conducted at Westminster in London. This changed in 1997 when Scotland wanted to control the affairs pertaining directly to their country. Therefore a new parliament was needed and new parliament buildings. The building was designed to look like a branch running out of the nearby park, therefor a lot of the design is centered around very earthy themes. The skylights are shaped like leaves and the buildings like boats. The whole place has an ongoing color scheme of white/silver and wood that was really striking. Our favorite room was the Debate Room. Here the wood was very prominent and looked spectacular!
The next stop was Holyroodhouse Palace. This is the official Scottish residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland. In this palace we were able to see pretty much all of the same rooms we get to see in the other palaces, but they were just as opulent and therefor just as interesting. The palaces most famous resident was Mary Queen of Scots. This section has not be touched since she left in the 1600’s. We were able to climb the narrow spiraling staircase to her rooms. Here we saw her original bed and the place where her 2nd husband murdered her secretary (there were still blood stains on the floor). We actually felt bad for Mary, we had always assumed she was the bad guy in her relations with Elizabeth.
The highlight of the palace was the old abbey ruins. What remains of the abbey today dates back to the 1200’s. They have apparently inspired many artists to create great works…we maybe didn’t feel any of that. But still enjoyed the views!
We followed the mornings attractions with some hardy exercise. We climbed Arthurs Seat, which is an old volcano right in the middle of the city. The part we climbed was by the Salisbury Crages, basically a big rock wall. It was a short but very steep climb so you ended up really high really fast. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture below but you do end up at quite a height. The views from the top were well worth the climb! We made sure to get a lot of photos!
We stopped for a rest for awhile in a Starbucks on the Royal Mile, as our hike had taken less time than expected. It was here that Justine decided that she wanted to see a doctor. So Kristin found them a cab (this took awhile as they all seemed to already have people in them because of the rain) and we arrived at the ER. Driving on the wrong side of the road is weird. We then got to ride on a real double-decker bus on our way back from the hospital.
Supper was another classic English pub dinner. We had actually scouted the place out yesterday but it was really busy. It was busy again today but we just loitered until we found a table. We both had meat pies tonight…yum! We also had a small plate of nachos since everywhere we look at in this town is advertising nachos!
After supper we toured Greyfriar’s Kirk Cemetary. This cemetery is overlooked by The Elephant House and is where JK Rowling got the inspiration for some of the names in her books. In the graveyard we found the tomb of a Thomas Riddle. Does the name sound familiar? If it doesn’t, he has a few alias’: You-Know-Who, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named or simply Lord Voldemort.
We finished the day with the Real Mary Kings Close Tour. This was very reminiscent of the Seattle Underground Tour, if you’ve ever been on that. The closes were really tiny streets squeezed between the buildings. They were very uneven and often sunken lower than the main street. When they built the Royal Exchange (a giant marketplace) they wanted it to be level with the main road so they chopped of the tops of the surrounding buildings, leaving the slower levels below the new street level. We got to explore these now hidden lower levels. It was very dark and spook once we got underground. We were presented with a lot of interesting facts, but also with some fun ghost stories and some gruesome tales of the plague. At least 50% of the people who lived on Mary King Close died during the plague! It was an awesome evening activity…spooky but not too scary.
PS. Look at this photo…who is this stranger Kristin has her picture with? Or is that Alexa? It surely can’t be Bean?!
What we Learned Today:
– The difference between flagstone and cobblestone
– A lot of people were killed in Edinburgh (whether by plague or methods more sinister)
Highlights of the Day:
1. Knowing Justine was not going to have her foot amputated.
2. Supper! Again!
Love, Luck & Legumes (the frozen kind that Justine is icing her foot with!)