Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dream Vacation - Day 12

Was up early and wandering around "old town" Edinburgh looking for some place to eat. The only place open this early was Subway so I grabbed me a breakfast sandwich. After breakfast I headed over to Edinburgh Castle, this was on my "must see" list.

This was one of the very few castles that I visited that wasn't in ruins. I spent about 3 hours walking around the grounds, checking out every inch of it.

Some of the highlights for me: "The Great Hall", it's famous medieval wooden roof is amazing. There are these carved stone heads and symbols on which its giant beams rest, which include a Green Man and a pair of thistles, the badge of Scotland. For centuries it was a giant barrack block, the medieval splendor was hidden by rooms crammed with soldiers. Oliver Cromwell’s occupying army began the military makeover in 1650 and by the time the troops marched out in 1886, the Great Hall was divided up by new floors and walls. A huge collection of weapons and armor is displayed around the walls of the Great Hall.

Another favorite of mine was "The Royal Palace", this is the birth place of James VI. His mother, Mary Queen of Scots, endured a long and particularly agonizing labor, so much so that one of her companions is said to have attempted to use magic to project the birth pangs on one of her servants. James became king of Scotland soon after his first birthday in 1567 and king of England in 1603. He made an emotional return to his birthplace in 1617 to celebrate his golden jubilee – the birth chamber was redecorated for the occasion. The last sovereign to sleep in the Royal Palace was Charles I on June 19, 1633, the night before his Scottish coronation.

Not my picture, wasn't allow to take pictures
Another cool item was "The Stone of Destiny", The Stone was supposed to have been a Biblical relic, the pillow on which the Patriarch Jacob rested his head when he dreamt of Jacob’s Ladder. In legend, this sacred stone was brought to Ireland and then to Scotland by the first Scottish kings. The Stone will only leave Scotland again when there is a coronation in Westminster Abbey.

Not my picture, wasn't allow to take pictures
You also were able to see the "Crown Jewels" aka The Honours, They were buried at Dunnottar Castle and later Kinneff Church between 1651 to 1660 to keep them out of the clutches of Oliver Cromwell and his English army. The blade of the Sword of State has a fracture line that was probably made when it was snapped to smuggle it past English soldiers. The Honours were locked away in a chest after the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England in 1707 and only rediscovered by the novelist Sir Walter Scott in 1818. Collectively, they are known as the Honours of Scotland. They were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543.

Another cool event was "One o'clock Gun" They fire this cannon everyday at 1pm.. there is an entire ceremony that goes along with it. The idea of using a gun to mark time was brought to Edinburgh from Paris by businessman John Hewitt. The gun is not fired on Christmas Day or Good Friday. It fell silent during the First and Second world wars. The first gun was a 64-pounder cannon mounted on the Half Moon Battery, The present gun is a 105mm field gun. It was installed on the Mills Mount Battery in 2001.

There are so many great places to visit.. I listed just a few that I enjoyed. There is also St Margaret's Chapel, Mons Meg, Half Moon Battery, National War Museum, Regimental Museums, Scottish National War Memorial and Prisons of War area. It was a great visit and alot of fun.

After the castle I walked around "new town" Edinburgh for about five hours. Not as old or majestic looking as "old town" but still it had some amazing buildings and structures. I took hours of video and a ton of pictures. Also "old town" looks amazing from "new town" (pic below).

I found a great "hot spot" for wifi at a John Lewis Store in a local mall. I spent a few hours each day there surfing the web. I also picked up some food supplies before heading back to the hostel during the evening.

When I got back to the hostel I now had three roommates for a total of 4. I listened to podcasts and played around on my ipad before calling it a night.

You can check out more pictures that I took at Edinburgh Castle HERE.

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