castles

Scotland 2019 – Days 7 & 8

Full disclosure:  We are now home safe and sound. The reason for the late post will be explained in a day or two.  Let’s just say that British Airways and I are not on friendly terms right now.

No map today, you should know where we are by now! Day 7 was a no travel day. We took a nice city bus tour of the city of Edinburgh. Then it was up to the castle.

The Cowgate in Edinburgh

The castle is very imposing. It sits atop a rock that is eons old. There has been a royal castle at this location since the reign of David I in the 12th century. Archeological finds have dated human occupation on Castle Rock to the Iron Age in the second century BCE.

The view from the castle is quite spectacular.

Looking out from the Argyll Battery.

Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, they would fire a canon everyday at 1300 (1 PM) so that folks could set their timepieces, but more importantly, so the ships could set navigation.

The One O’Clock Gun
Another shot of part of the castle.

Alas, were not allowed to take photographs of the crown jewels nor the Stone of Scone. But it was amazing to view them.

A graveyard for all the dogs that belonged to soldiers or other folks that were living in the castle.

After our visit to the castle, we had a free day to explore Edinburgh. Before we headed off to the Royal Mile to shop, we had to stop at the grass market area for lunch. The grass market was exactly what the name implies. It served as the city common area. Everything was done here centuries ago, the market, offical announcements, and even the hangings of those sentenced to die. Today, there is no longer a grass area, it’s been paved and it’s lined with shops and pubs.

After a very nice lunch (and local beer) we headed to Greyfriars Kirk. The church was originally started in 1602. We didn’t go into the building, but instead walked among the old cemetery.

I was looking for a particular tomb. This is said to be haunted! I’ll leave it to you to read about Bloody MacKenzie.

And no visit to Greyfriars is complete with a vist to the statue of “Greyfriars Bobby“.

I have to admit that as beautiful as the Royal Mile is, it has become a tourist trap. The majority of shops that claim “Authentic Highland Tartans” have the same mass produced crap. It took some doing to find a shop with quality product without having to go over to the “expensive” street. So I didn’t take any pictures of the buildings. Besides all you’d be able to see were the tourists anyway!

But I did find this:

We own this country!

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. As so we had to say goobye to Bonnie Scotland. Day 8 was an early morning cab ride to the airport and some interesting flights home. That will the subject of another post.

The sun was shining when we arrived and again when we left. The days in middle were not bad either!

The traditional highland goodbye is “Hasten ye back!” And that we shall.

Peace,
B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 6

Our view at breakfast

The ever present map

This was another short coach trip day. I’m really happy about that as the cramped seats are starting to get to me.

Stop number one was Glamis Castle. Ian, our braw tour director says this castle always wins the unofficial voice poll of favorite stops. Not for me, I prefer Blair Castle (day 5) simply because of the extensive grounds. But I will say, Glamis does look more like the storybook castle. I blame Disney. Photography was not allowed inside the castle, so this is it.

Next up was St. Andrew’s. The home of golf. My dad and older brother would have enjoyed the old course and other sites in that area. I’m not a duffer so while it was interesting,and i do watch enough golf to recognize the important places, I had other plans.

We were dropped off about the center of town for a free afternoon. After a good meal of fish and chips (I can’t believe that it took me until day 6 to get fish and chips), we headed to the ruins of St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

Legend has it that St. Rule brought some of the bones of Andrew, one of the twelve apostles, to the “end of the earth” from the Constantinople. And in the 8th century or so, Scotland was on the western edge of the know world. The cathedral was built around 1158, but there has been a church at this location at least as back as 748 CE. It was abandoned after the Scottish Reformation of the 16th century.

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We ended the night with some (cheesy) planned entertainment The Spirit of Scotland. The best I can say is the piper was excellent.

Edinburgh castle and a free afternoon to explore the city awaits!

Peace,

B

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Scotland 2019 – Day 5

No long coach rides today! Yea!

Are you tired of the map yet?

My apologies for the tardiness of this post. We did quite a bit of walking yesterday and I ended up in the bar later than usual. No real surprise there. Also our braw tour director does Ancestry research and several of us met with him to pick up some research tips.

I have an hour before breakfast so I will hopefully get this posted right away.

The day started off in a shambles. Our coach driver, Neil, was required by law to have the day off. Much like truckers in the USA can only drive for so many hours before they must stop, the same applies here.

The fill-in driver was over 30 minutes late. Poor Ian, our braw tour director, was beside himself. Ian called our two stops and got us rescheduled.

First stop for the day was Blair Castle. This castle was first built in the mid 13th century. And parts of that construction are still in use.

They a have a piper play every hour most afternoons on the grounds.

The castle has 30 rooms that you can visit on your self guided tour. As usual, there are muskets, bayonets and swords everywhere.

There are many red deer on the grounds as well. And it seems they like to mount them!

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The Duke of Atholl is the person in Europe that has a standing private army, the Atholl Highlanders.

But for wifey and I, the best part was walking the grounds. We went first to Diana’s Grove (this is the Greek Goddess, not the late Princess. And no, Princess Diana is not buried here. And yes, someone asked if she was buried in the Grove.)

The best sidetrip was a visit to the ruined St. Bride’s Kirk. St. Bride is better known as Brigid. The Kirk, or church, was built around 1275.

From the castle to the distillery. I was looking forward to this visit as I have never heard of this brand of whisky. And now I now why. The majority of the whisky distilled here is used in blended whiskies. They only bottle 0.03% of the product as single malt, and it’s not exported. Hence, I’ve never heard of Blair Atholl.

Our tour guide, Tom, was very good.

But I will admit that I didn’t care for the whisky.

Random shot to prove the sun does shine on Scotland!

We ended the afternoon with some free time in the little town of Pitlochry.

Wifey was happy she finally got to wear her sunglasses

And that’s a wrap. Up next is Glamis Castle and St. Andrew’s.

Peace,

B

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