30.12.2014 - 01.01.2015 10 °C
Well after our scheduled train was cancelled and we were put on a leter train that went to Edinburgh via Carlisle (on the other side of the island) we finally arrived into Waverly station Edinburgh at 12.00pm. We went up the escalators totally unaware of what we would find as we hit Princes Street. There were people everywhere, many with suitcases and a large amount looking lost. We had decided, due to limited time, that we would split up and go our separate ways. I jumped on a bus to Roslyn Chapel. What a wee gem of a place. The set up is great and the tour guide was lovely as she told us the stories from the chapel with her soft Scotish accent and green lazer to direct us to applicable areas of the chapel. It made me feel like reading Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code all over again.
Whilst I was at Roslyn chapel David was at the National Gallery of Scotland. He was impressesd by the quality of the renaissance collections and the collection also included a very early work, and supposedly the largest work (of the 34 known works) by Vermeer - so he was happy. There was also an impressive collection of Scottish art in the Scotland collection galleries, however these galleries were quiet compared to the International collection galleries. He also climbed Carlton hill to see views out over Edinburgh, and claimed to have needed oxygen at the top of the first set of steps.
This city grows on you. When we first arrived I wasn't too sure if I would like it but as the evening came (3ish) the lights kicked in and the festival atmosphere was there. We wandered around stalls and nibbled as we walked.
We wandered for quite a long afternoon of discovering Edinburgh before heading off to our AirBnB on the Firth of Forth in Newhaven. We caught the designated bus and waited for the right stop to get off, and found the address right on the bus stop. Angie greeted us and showed us to a great bedroom where after shedding our cold clothes we were able to spend the evening learning about Edinburugh and our host.
After a hearty breakfast the following day we headed off to catch the Hop on Hop off bus to see Edinburgh. We stopped at a variety of places during the day, seeing the Hollyrood Palace with an audio tour was very interesting. Seeing the rooms where Mary of Queen of Scots lived was a highlight, but even the rooms still used by the Royal Family were interesting. We also spent time at the Grassmarket (where most of the hangings took place in the 17th Century), walked around the base of the Castle, and lunched at the cafe where JK Rowling initiated her ideas for Harry Potter on a napkin (the 'Elephant Cafe'). Sharon was very happy to find this cafe and the best was yet to come when we went to the loo before leaving. Now Colleen will chuckle at this, but the loos were amazing. The grafitti, all Harry Potter related. There was notes to JK Rowling about introducing people to reading, 'long live magic' and even a broom stick. Unfortunately we were penless so Emma will have to graffitti for us all when she makes it to this special place. We have added new words to our vocab from this lovely place ...neeps,tatties, and dross. Pop you will know these words but for us they were new and are now addedd to our vocabulary.
Each New Years Edinburgh has a torch parade which looks quite amazing. People dress up as vikings with torches and march through the streets. David saw the streets lined with barrels of water just in case there was a need for emergency extinguishing during the festivities. Anyone can join in but we were a little concerned about getting back to our accommodation, so had to enjoy it on tv. It was still pretty good. We had decided to have a traditional New years with our hosts so at about 8 pm we were of to their local pub wandering along the waterfront of the Forth of firth. The band was great and we enjoyed singing along to tunes that linked age groups and countries. At about 11.30 we wandered home to a wee supper and to get ourselves ready for the bells (which we learned later were not bells but fireworks). We all prepared our glassess to see the New year in. Sharon holding a whiskey for the first time in honour of Pop. With a minute to go Angie's dad grabbed a bottle of whiskey and left the appartment. Apparently the first person in your door after midnight should be someone with a gift. 100 years ago you would have a piece of coal in your hand as a sign you chimney would be filled with smoke over the next 12 months. So we let Angie's dad in the house and there were hugs and the fireworks at the Castle started. The fireworks had these lovely red and green colours at the same time.
Anyway after a slow start the next day we wandered the streets, viewed Britannia, where Dvid had a black pudding buttie, and managed to see more of Edinburgh before a train back to Newcastle. Our AirBnB host Nigel insisted that he drive us to the airport where we met Emma and got ourselves ready for our next adventure, Paris.