City of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle sits high on a volcanic plug on the western end of the Royal Mile.
It's clear from the view from the roof of the Museum of Scotland why the Castle was never taken by force.

The Royal Mile

The Flower Clock in Waverly Park Gardens

Edinburgh's new tram system opened in 2014

The road to the upper castle area. 

Edinburgh Castle esplanade and gatehouse
The gates are used as a giant projector screen for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

Inside the Castle's Great Hall...

...where Queen Margaret conscripted some of our Scouts to perform a 13th century dance.
The National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle
The Royal Apartments at Edinburgh Castle

View from the Castle battlements, overlooking the New Town over the Firth of Forth to the Kingdom of Fife
The dungeons under Edinburgh Castle were used to house , among others, American sailors captured at sea during the Revolution and the War of 1812.
The view from the Castle, overlooking the cemetery for the soldier's dogs.

The Castle Commander's house 

Castle Hill from Waverly Park Gardens - the opposite side of the Castle from the panoramic view above. The Royal Mile stretches to the left of the Castle in this picture, and the stands for the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo are on the Castle Esplanade.

The Camera Obscura is Victorian high-tech - a periscope which projects an image on a bowl at the top of the building. Our guide showed the Scouts around Edinburgh by panning the lens and mirror, and performed the ever-popular "swatting tourists with a paper card" trick.

The rest of the Camera Obscura building is filled with a wide mix of optical illusions. This tunnel of lights rotates around a stationary walkway. As you walk along, you're convinced that the walkway is lurching from side to side. 

So. we cut off Jack's head and put it on a table...

The Ames Room - forced perspective guarantees that the person on the left is always shorter than the person on the right.

Warren, Joe and a frozen water bottle in thermal imaging. 

Shake hands with yourself in the spherical mirror, which projects a real image in 3-D

The Glow Wall - normally, you stand in front of the wall, and when a strobe light flashes your shadow remains on the glowing wall. Our Camera Obscura guide pointed out that the wall works in reverse, too - you can paint with a flashlight. Luckily, I just happened to have one in my camera bag...

Fleshmarket Close leads from Waverly Station up to Cockburn Street - interestingly, Fleshmarket Close was the book by Ian Rankin which introduced me to Inspector Rebus, so I was pleased to discover I was on the Close as I carried my bags from the station to the B&B. 

The west end of the Royal Mile. The Camera Obscura is the white domed building on the left, the spire is the former Tolbooth Kirk, now the International Festival Hub. 

The Royal Oak pub is one of the few which still feature live traditional music. 

Inside the Royal Oak

Waverly Park Gardens from North Bridge

Deacon Brodie's Tavern - the good Deacon was the prototype for Robert Louis Stevenson's book Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. A deacon of the church and locksmith by day, at night he used extra copies of the keys to locks he'd installed in the New Town to burgle his customers' houses. 

Our Dynamic Earth, just off the Royal Mile, is a hands-on museum about the environment, from ice (a glacier)...

... to fire (volcanos).

Victoria Street leads from the Royal Mile area down to Grassmarket.

The Scottish Parliament Building stands at the bottom of the Royal Mile, just across from Holyroodhouse Palace. Its modern design, by a Spanish architect, is controversial, to put it mildly, and the Scots were not amused when it was completed in 2004 at a cost something over ten times what was originally estimated. 

Each of the oddly shaped protrusions from the wall is a study for a Scottish Member of Parliament. 

The Royal Mile at dusk - which can be pretty late in summertime

The clock on the Balmoral Hotel is kept two minutes fast, so that people running for their trains at the adjoining Waverly Station won't be late.

Narrow lanes, called "Closes" or "Wynds", lead down from the Royal Mile

Warriston Close

View down the Royal Mile from Castle Hill

This is Advocate's Close. 
The pointed structure which looks like a grounded
spaceship is the Sir Walter Scott Monument on Princes Street. 

Looking up the Royal Mile in the evening light, past the Camera Obscura to the Castle. With the Festival Fringe in full swing, the Royal Mile is packed all day and well into the night. 

The spire of St. Giles Cathedral is said to represent either the Crown of Thorns or a traditional Scottish crown. Either way, it's a distinctive landmark on the Royal Mile

St. Giles Cathedral in the early evening

The Royal Mile from above - view from the Camera Obscura roof

Holyrood Palace, at the bottom of the Royal Mile, is the official Scottish residence for the Royal Family. 

Holyrood Palace yard
Holyrood Abbey adjoins the Palace. It was founded in 1128 by Scottish King David I. David was confronted by a stag after he was thrown by his horse while hunting. A holy cross ("rood") descended from heaven to save him, and he founded the abbey in gratitude (or so the story goes...)
A sarcophagus in Holyrood Abbey, occupied by an anachronistic Scout.

Greyfriars Kirkyard in the Covenanters' Prison, reputed to be the most haunted place in Scotland. 

A mortsafe in Greyfriars Kirkyard, which protected a grave from "resurrection men" (graverobbers).

Greyfriars Kirk and its surrounding cemetery. 
It is estimated that about 400,000 bodies are buried at Greyfriars - many times the number of monuments, because graves were reused over and over - so many that the ground surface is nearly ten feet higher than the surrounding streets.The cemetery is also home to at least nine known plague pits with thousands of victims of the Black Death. 

A visit to Greyfriars Bobby's grave is a "must". Bobby was the terrier who slept on his master's grave for 14 years. 

Bobby himself sits just outside the cemetery (and his pub) - the most visited statue in Edinburgh

Merchant Street at Candlemakers Row, viewed from Greyfriars Kirkyard

The 15th century Flodden Wall runs through Greyfriars. That's Heriot School through the archway.

The National Gallery on the Mound has a huge collection of art - Scottish and from many other countries. 

The Scott Memorial and Waverly Hotel

Often mis-called "Arthur's Seat", the Salisbury Crags can be seen from all over Edinburgh. Arthur's Seat is actually the pointed mountain a few miles further away. 

Deaconess Gardens, in the University District, just across the street from the Kenneth MacKenzie B&B I stayed at. The Kirk o' Field church and Salisbury Crags form the background for the tiny park. 

Although it looks just like a normal street, South Bridge is just that - a stone arched bridge leading from the volcanic ridge of the Royal Mile southward to the city below. Buildings were built up on each side of the bridge, and most of the arches eventually became walled-up vaults.  
 Once businesses, goods storage and housing for the poorest filled the vaults. Eventually, they were filled in and forgotten. The vaults under South Bridge were re-opened within the last thirty years for candlelight ghost tours.

Makars Court (left) houses the Edinburgh Writers' Museum
The court is paved with stones carved with quotes by the city's many writers. 

The Royal Museum of Scotland, renovated in 2012, is well worth a few hours' visit.

The large central atrium is lined with all manner of exhibits, called "Window on the World" - a little of everything from the museum's collections. 

Type something into a keyboard, and this robot selects cubes to spell it out. Of course, I had to try it.

The recently refurbished atrium of the Museum of Scotland

The Natural History hall has a display of aquatic animals, from dolphins to hippos.

The Royal College of Surgeons
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a student here, taught by the eminent Dr. Bell - the prototype for Conan Doyle's best known character, Sherlock Holmes. 

Wojtek the Bear was a mascot of the  Polish Second Army Corps in WWII. He was enlisted as a private, then promoted to corporal, so that he could be transported on British ships and draw rations with the other soldiers. During the Battle of Monte Casino in Italy he carried ammunition to the troops. After the war he retired to a comfortable life at Edinburgh Zoo and died in 1963. This statue was unveiled in 2015. 

Sir Walter Scott in his memorial on Princes Street, with the clock tower of the Waverly Hotel in the background. The clock is fast - it always is, so that people won't miss their trains at Waverly Station next door. The clock is on time only once a year, at midnight on New Year's Eve, when it's set to time the Hogmany celebration at the beginning of the new year - and then it's immediately set ahead three minutes. 

Calton Hill from the Castle

Rainbow over the Old Town

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The Edinburgh International Festival runs through most of August each year. The Festival Fringe started out as an informal collection of acts scattered around the fringes of the "real" festival, but over the years it has grown into a festival of its own. In 2014, when I visited, there were over 3,000 performances at more than 300 venues throughout the city of Edinburgh. 

The Royal Mile is filled with street performers - here, a group of acrobats. 

A juggler tosses flaming torches on the Royal Mile

This young juggler was performing on the plaza outside the National Gallery on the Mound. 

Many street performances are promoting plays or musical acts at other venues.

A magician from Vancouver, Canada, of all places.

A bagpiper entertaining the crowd opposite Deacon Brodie's Tavern

One of the many Living Statues

Sand Sculptor and his dog

Another Living Statue - the little boy appears to be more interested in the money than the performer...

This little girl seems a bit perplexed by the dancers from Taiwan.

The New Town and nearby

The New Town, which was built in the Georgian Period - 18th century - to allow the rich to escape the crowding of the Old Town along the Royal Mile and within the Flodden Wall. 

Long rows of nearly identical terraces (we'd call them "row houses") characterize Georgian cities. 
The Photography Centre is on Great King Street. 
The Walter Scott memorial on Princes Street - the world's largest monument to a writer.

The Forth River Crossings
The cantilever Forth Bridge, at right, is the oldest of the three crossings, carrying railway trains over the Forth since 1890. 
The suspension Forth Road Bridge, in the center, has crossed the Forth at Queensferry since 1964. 
The new cable-stayed Queensferry Crossing at left is scheduled to open in 2017.

The Deep Sea World aquarium is located in North Queensferry, just across the Forth from Edinburgh. One of its attractions is a tunnel through a huge tank formed from a flooded quarry.

The Forth Bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a great example of Victorian overbuilding.

The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

The Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo has been held on the Castle Esplanade every year since the end of World War Two. Military bands come from all around the world to perform at the Tattoo. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Tattoo in 2014 at the end of our Blair Atholl Jamborette trip in that year. 

See here for our web page with pictures from the 2014 Tattoo

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