A Room With A View*

Before you have ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland, people will tell you, “Edinburgh is a beautiful city.” ¬†You think to yourself, “why does everyone say that?” I wondered if I would come away from my trip saying the exact same words to others. I do.

My simple explanation is that the architecture is beautiful. As you walk the city, you may find yourself pausing to admire architecture right and left. Before we even left our hotel, I was enchanted with this view out our window.

#cathedral, #saintmarys, #stmarys, #architecture, #edinburgh, #scotland
View of Saint Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland from our room in the Hilton Grosvenor.

The curve of the street leading to the Cathedral in the West End makes lovely leading lines. This photograph was taken in late evening dusk, around 10pm.

*With apology to E. M. Forster for using the name of his book title.

From the top of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle towers over today’s modern city of Edinburgh, Scotland from its perch atop Castle Rock. From the top on a clear day, you can enjoy a beautiful vista clear over to the harbor at the Firth of Forth.

#view, #vista, #edinburgh, #castle, #clearday, #travel, #castlerock
Fantastic view from Edinburgh Castle, looking east. Notice the 16 century dog cemetery in the lower right of the photo.

The Castle holds within its walls numerous buildings built from the 12th century to the 20th century. The oldest building is the tiny Saint Margaret’s Chapel, just large enough to hold about 10 people, if they aren’t too large.

#stmargaret, #edinburghcastle, #oldestbuilding, #edinburgh, #castle, #chapel
Tiny St. Margaret’s Chapel from the 12th century, restored in the 18th century.

The newest building is the Scottish National War Memorial, built after the First World War to commemorate the Scots who gave their lives in wartime.

#edinburgh, #castle, #memorial, #scotland, #remembrance, #travel
The Scottish National War Memorial, dedicated in 1927 features beautiful architecture and stained glass windows.

The Upper Ward and the huge cannon “Mons Meg” represent the 15th and 16th century, a period when the castle was the site of battles.

#flag, #castle, #edinburgh, #tickets, #history, #tour, #travel
The Scotland flag flies (featuring Saint Andrew’s cross), and the summer sun illuminates the 15th and 16th century buildings of the Upper Ward of Edinburgh Castle.

There is much more to discover in Edinburgh Castle, including the Crown Jewels (which may not be photographed), the Great Hall, a suffocating old prison and a military history museum.

#prison, #dark, #crowded, #history, #conditions, #edinburgh, #castle
Can you imagine living in filth in this old prison within Edinburgh Castle? How many men to a hammock?

Buy your tickets ahead of time online, and allow yourself plenty of time on what will hopefully be a clear day.

Bring a bit of Scotland home

Visiting Edinburgh Scotland for the first time, we had a wonderful time walking the cobblestone streets, admiring the architecture, having a pint in the pub and exploring its castles and cathedrals. Naturally, photography helps to preserve those memories. Shopping for a bit of the culture to bring home will too.

The Scots are known for the colorful plaids that traditionally represent different clans, woven into woolen kilts or warm scarves. Today a dizzying array of plaids sold on soft, cozy scarves and wraps make it very difficult to choose one — or two or three. What will match my winter coat? What will my daughter like? They are all so beautiful!

#scaraves, #shopping, #wool, #cashmere, #edinburgh, #gift, #travel, #culture, #clan, #color, #choice
A glimpse into this basket of wool scarves in an Edinburgh shop reveals the many choices in Scottish plaids.

Weather in the Scottish Highlands

According to the locals, weather in the Scottish Highlands can be described in one of three ways:

  • Glorious
  • Atmospheric
  • Dramatic
#scotland, #highlands, #scottish, #glencoe, #weather, #clouds, #mist, #rain, #green, #rugged
Today the weather was “atmospheric” in the Highlands.

A steady mist kept our windshield peppered with tiny drops as we passed the rugged landscape in Glencoe. The vivid green ground cover attests to the fact that most days here are either atmospheric or dramatic with steady precipitation and rapidly changing conditions.

While this region may look like a hiker’s dream, we heard cautionary tales of hikers who grew fatigued on long treks through thin air who treated themselves to a nap, hoping to awaken refreshed. Many hikers who nap succumb to hypothermia.

Scotland’s Hairy Coo

For some reason, I find this animal hilarious. Drive the Scottish Highlands, and you will meet a Highland Cow, affectionately known as the “Hairy Coo,” by the locals. Their coat is tough enough to withstand nearly constant rain and long, cold winters. The bangs over their eyes may function as sunglasses, but makes them look like survivors of neglect. Moving slowly, they seem docile and not very smart, but who knows what they are thinking?

#scotland, #scottish, #highlands, #highlandcow, #hairycoo, #cow, #bull, #bigfella
Do you have a soft spot in your heart for the “Hairy Coo?”
#scotland, #highlands, #highlandcow, #cow, #hairy, #hairycoo, #cute, #whatishethinking
What is he thinking?

Coast of Scotland

After a few days of city life, it feels so good to get out in the countryside and see a far different part of Scotland. Heading north across the Firth of Forth (the estuary of the Forth River), we stopped in the coastal town of Elie to stretch our legs. I wasn’t going to risk getting sand in my shoes, but I’m very glad I did take a few steps on to the quiet beach to admire this lovely crescent shoreline.

#beach, #scotland, #elie, #coast, #eastcoast, #clouds, #countryside, #tranquil, #northsea
Low hanging clouds gave the Elie beach a peaceful atmosphere. The gentle curves of the dune led the eye out to the distant shoreline.

Shop Edinburgh

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to shop abroad. So, it’s no surprise that my favorite street in Edinburgh, Scotland is a shopping street lined with boutiques.

#victoria, #victoriastreet, #edinburgh, #scotland, #cities, #shopping, #eating, #eatinganddrinking, #shopedinburgh, #travel
Victoria Street slopes downhill and to the left, revealing numerous brightly colored storefronts.

On this one street, which was the inspiration for “Diagon Alley” in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book, one can buy cards, tweeds, cheese, jewelry, a gourmet French dinner and yes, even a magic wand.