Up at Edinburgh Castle we had the wind to contend with, along with various entertaining tourists. (One couple made their way around the castle grounds, the guy oohing and ahhing as he snapped photos of his girlfriend posing in slightly over the top, sex-kitten ways. We casually followed behind for a few minutes to fuel our giggles.) All gusts and giggles aside, the view was amazing, despite the fog. We walked in and out of various rooms containing everything from specific battle memorabilia and arms to the royal apartments, looking over the royal family's old family photos and trying to imagine living in this place above the city.
Not far from the castle was the museum, Camera Obscura, where we entertained ourselves with a different kind of museum, altogether. The museum is named after the lens it holds at its center, something by which we could spy on passersby below, strolling down the Royal Mile. We learned a little history about the various locations of sister lenses like this, and the lens' story, itself. But mostly, we just had a little fun playing for a while before moving on down High Street.
Lunch! Already, you ask? But didn't you have haggis at breakfast time? Why yes, yes we did, but passing by The Baked Potato Shop seemed like a non-option. If we were gluttons any one day of this trip, this was the day. At this fantastic, little shop on could order any number of toppings on their potato, sized small, medium, or large. As it was a vegetarian establishment, we justified eating before we were quite hungry by calling it healthy. At any rate, Chris' potato got a quick warm-up after receiving its cheese, onion, and pineapple, while mine only required the two hearty scoops of Greek salad to be complete. Sounds a little off, I realize, but the taste was right on target. There was something jarringly delicious about eating cool, fresh vegetables and feta cheese marinated in red wine vinegar with a blob of buttery, hot potato. Did I mention a medium potato from the Shop was nearly as big as my face? We may have been hurting a little afterwards, but it was worth every bite.
The Scott Monument
erected in honor of Scottish author, Sir Walter Scott
As we waddled down the street we stopped here and there to watch or speak with some of the street performers who call the Royal Mile their office. Jo had told us about a couple, in particular, the night before, so it was fun to seek them out.
This is the world's most pierced woman, and she was more than happy to pose for my camera. Of course I paid her a pound for her cooperation.
Noticing the increasing number of signs posted along the road forbidding parking for some important "exercise," we inquired inside a convenience store about said exercise. Maybe we'd be there for some unexpected treat. It turned out Her Majesty was due in on Tuesday, and this was the road she traveled to reach her house, Holyrood Palace at the end of the Mile. The guy behind the counter said if we asked a cop they wouldn't say so, but that everybody knew what the signs meant, though her specific time of arrival was kept secret. Kind of cool, the Queen of Britain being in town on holiday the same time as us, but we had plans to be in Glasgow on Tuesday and besides, who wants to sit around all day in hopes of catching a glimpse, modern royalty or not? So off we went, on down toward Holyrood, itself, taking notice of the growing number of armed guards patrolling the area.
Holyrood was securely walled in, but the guards watched every person carefully who strolled close by. I surprised us, then, how incredibly friendly they were when we approached with questions concerning whether or not we could pass. The first guard's post was at a drive at the back of the palace, and we stopped to make sure we could cut across to get to the open park. She said we could as long as we weren't hiding a vehicle. Chris pulled the liners of his pockets out to show we were clean, we all chuckled and we walked on. After parting ways with Andrew and Nelson we came upon another guard hanging around the mouth of a narrow alley that ran alongside Holyrood's wall, leading out to another road we wanted to get to. When we asked if we could walk that alley, unsure about security issues, he said we could, as long as we promised not to scale the wall. We promised and he laughed as he waved. I love the people here.
As it was after six and anything with visiting hours was closed, we took a very long walk from Holyrood to Leith, what we heard referred to as the rougher side of Edinburgh, to stop by the room before finding dinner down by the docks. As we made our way toward the water Chris pulled out the map to make sure we were on the right road. As he did, a rather burly woman who approached walking the opposite direction made us both jump when she gruffly yelled at us, "What are you looking for?" We replied, "A place to eat dinner," and she pointed up the cross street we'd reached, then down it. "There's a place there, and there's more down that way. You've got a lot of choices!" We thanked her, she smiled somehow without smiling, and everyone went on their way. Even when they scared you, these Edinburghians were super helpful. We walked until we found the old harbor of Leith and ended up settling into a table at The Ship on the Shore. Ready?
Who said Scottish food was bad again?