Edinburgh Stories and Tips

Slightly Irreverant Rambles in Edinburgh (please read lightheartedly)

Looking down Princess St from Calton Hill Photo, Edinburgh, Scotland

Palace of Holyrood House
There are three views of Edinburgh that are spectacular. One is from the castle, the second is from "Arthur's Seat," and the third is from Calton Hill. Without trying to get into volcanic ash and lots of other stuff about which I know absolutely nothing, I'll skip the geology lesson. Calton Hill is known for its' monuments to different Scots, the Old and National Observatory, the National Monument which was never finished because they ran out of money and England didn't feel like helping the old cause. I don't actually know if that last part is true, but it probably is knowing those tightwad English. Anyway, Calton Hill is a hill that you can drive up (assuming that you have something with a motor), or walk up steep stairs that will remind not to wear that tight underwear. When you get to the top you can wander all over and see the monuments. If you didn't read this before you climbed the stairs, then you will probably not have the water that you wish that you had remembered to bring. The people that did read this epistle are laughing at you right now.

The Palace of Holyrood House or simply Holyrood Palace is the Queen's residence when she wants to do a little shopping and fence-mending in Edinburgh. Don't ever come to Edinburgh just to see the Holyrood Palace because if you do and the Queen decides to pop in, you are not allowed to pop in, which is pretty inhospitable. Of course, she IS English.

The National Monument and Lord Nelson Monument.
The National Monument is on the right and is just a few of the pillars they planned to build. Apparently someone called Edinburgh the "Athens of the North" and they took it seriously. They got a few built and then ran out of money. So, they dropped it. Lord Nelson is another thing. He was a great admiral or something and was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar, which I am pretty sure took place in a place called Trafalgar which is a square in London someplace. Anyway, they put up this monument that is supposed to look like an upside down telescope or periscope or something. Go figure.

Dugald Stewart Monument
The Dugald Stewart Monument with Edinburgh Castle unrecognizable in the background. Old Dugald was a famous Scottish philosopher who walked around talking to himself to lot. Drawings of him indicate that he had a pretty hefty sized nose and he was also famous for philosophical stuff and for comparing Edinburgh to Athens. Hence, the sobriquet as the "Athens of the North." Essentially, he was responsible for the idea to build the National Monument which went broke and you already know that story. I'm not going to talk about Edinburgh Castle because it is hard to see anyway. If I hadn't said something, I'll bet you wouldn't have known it was in the picture in the first place. What, you would have? Well, good for you.

The Nelson Monument
The Nelson Monument about which I have already enlightened you. That big rock formation is called, oddly enough, "Arthur's Seat." I don't know who he was, but I'll bet he had a big seat to go along with his big nose. If you look at the portraits of all these important Scots, one thing is common; they all have big noses. I haven't figured out yet whether the huge honkers is a Scottish trait or a Stewart (or Stuart, whichever you like) thing. I think that it is a Stewart thing because I don't have a big nose.

Princess Street from above on Calton Hill
The photograph is a view looking straight down Princess St. You can see the clock tower of the Balmoral Hotel. From the left, the things sticking up are St Giles Cathedral, St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh Castle, and Balmoral clock tower. Jenner's is right down there too, but I'll get into them in the next travelogue. I'll also get into the hippie and yuppie thing that is a territorial problem in Edinburgh.

The Royal High School
Below Calton Hill, and how we got here isn't important, is the Royal High School. My high school looked a lot like that, didn't yours? Mine was a little bigger and had a coliseum in the basement. I think the square thing with the pillars in the middle is where they all stand around wearing togas and stuff. I used to hate those things. Behind it is where they have the big gym with the lions to chase the track team. The lions serve double duty.

St. Giles Cathedral
St. Giles Cathedral. John Knox preached here, you know, and then he got the whole Presbyterian thing started. Boy did that start something. They built a statue of him inside; you can't miss it. And let's don't forget about ol' Martin Luther. He got his two cents in too. The Germans always have to horn in on things. Anyway, those guys and Calvin and a couple of others got stuff all stirred up and there were beatings, and burnings, and hangings and I don't know what all. And then, all of a sudden, Catholic churches weren't Catholic any more and then the Catholics got peeved and it all turned into a real mess.

The Thistle Chapel in St. Giles Cathedral
Interior view of St. Giles Cathedral. This is the Thistle Chapel. These are the upper portions of some of the stalls and canopies of the King and his 16 knights. There are arms, crests, and heraldic symbols. It is not old; it's from the early 20th century. It is truly impressive and difficult to photograph. This picture was taken with a flat field 18mm lens (that's just for photophiles).

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