First, a little bus-borne reconnaissance was in order. We got the Grand Pass Bus ticket from the Visitor Center and by 9:40 or so we had boarded the Mac Tour Bus, choosing it because the bus itself was "vintage" looking and it had a live guide vs recordings.
We went up to the open roof seats and had the guide to ourselves! Rory did a great job telling us details of each sight as we came up to it. The weather was overcast and a bit cold but no rain so it was all good.
After completing the whole loop by the Mac bus, we switched over to the Red line bus and took it back to Market Street I believe to start exploring on foot, the sights that Martha had picked out for us.
Lucky shot while on the moving bus of the Edinburgh Castle
with the statue in the foreground
Part of Bow Street, supposedly the inspiration for Diagon Alley
in the Harry Potter Book series by J.K. Rowling.
One of the benefits of taking the bus tours was finding out about the story of "Half Hanging Maggie". See the plaque:
A little farther down the street, was Edinburgh's oldest pub: The White Hart Inn. See the pics below for the history:
We were both quite amused by this chalked
sign in front of the White Hart Stag Pub
We then made our way slowly up towards the Edinburgh Castle area, waiting till after the 1:00 PM Cannon Firing as supposedly the crowds that gathered for that ceremony would be thinning out.
Along the way, we stopped at the Greyfriars Kirk (Church) to get a closer look at Bobby, the legendarily loyal dog, who after his death was buried within the Kirk and honored by a statue.
Here's Martha with Robby's statue, you'll note the
statue's shiny nose, apparently some tourist guide started the
story that it was good luck to rub the nose.
So of course, Martha rubbed it.
Time for lunch and Martha found us a small pub located in the Jolly Judge Close. Close is the name of narrow alleyways from back in the day. Some are portals into small micro-worlds of their own, some just alleyways.
Jolly Judge Close
After lunch we stopped briefly to enjoy the bagpipe
music offerings by this street performer.
Onward and upwards we walked to the Edinburgh Castle. It was still crowded with tourists but not too bad. There were some magnificent views of the city, some nice military displays to include a couple of famed Scot Regiments, a prison exhibition area and the Crown Jewels of Scotland which we elected to not wait in line for.
Neat stained glass of William Wallace (Braveheart)
in the Saint Mary's Chapel inside the castle grounds
One of several large cannons on the eastern side of the fortress,
aimed basically at the town. The eastern approach was the only
reasonable attack avenue by enemy forces, the other three sides
being high rock walls.
A view of Heriot School, the supposed inspiration for Hogwarts
School of Magic in the Harry Potter book series.
The modern artillery piece used for the One O'clock ceremony.
Why One O'clock instead of Noon? One theory we heard on the
bus tours is that because of Scottish thriftiness, it was cheaper
to fire just one round, back in the day, rather than 12 shots!
The ceremony's function is to set the time for ships in the harbor and people within earshot of the cannon; at the same time, a ball would drop from the top of the Nelson Monument as a visual signal. The ball dropping, the fact that Robert Burns (Scotland's famed poet) also wrote the song: Old Lang Syne, combine to make Edinburgh on New Year's Eve a rather popular destination.
A shot of the bus we took to get us back to our hotel
Not our hotel, the Balmoral Hotel is across Princes street from our
more modest hotel.
After dinner, we took a walk along Princes Street and got this shot of the Edinburgh Castle:
We then just wandered about a bit around the Waverley Train Terminal, discovering that the Hertz Rental car office was NOT at the station as we'd been told but about .3 miles from the hotel. So, it was good that we checked beforehand I guess.
An "artsy" view of the Scott Monument, we're hoping to be able
to climb the 287 stairs to the top for a view of the city, on Wednesday.
Tomorrow, we tour the Alnwick Castle, Berwick and the Borders. Stay tuned.