We took the train from Glasgow to Waverley Station in Edinburgh. Bags in tow, (thanks for recommending one with wheels Joyce!) we walked the final ½ mile along Princess Street to our Castle street B&B. Though having been up for 30 hours and ready to flop down for a nap we first explored the immediate area, Princess, Rose and Castle streets.
Performances by large and small groups, individuals, professional and weekend amateurs, on the "Fringe" of the art world find homes at the festival. Some become middle of the road, respectable, and move on replaced from a seemingly bottomless pool of talent while others sink from sight. For many a few coppers in the instrument case are all that's needed to keep them coming back.
Among my favorite entertainers were the human statues. Above left, this actress was exceptional, standing, motionless with crystal ball in hand, for 5 to 10 minutes at a stretch before the crowds built up. Placing a coin into her tin awakened her.
Edinburgh sits alongside the estuary, Firth, of the River Forth. The Forth Railway Bridge , pictured upper right, dominates the scene. Designed by Sir Benjamin Baker and built in 1890 its' outliving and outperforming the adjacent highway bridge built in 1964. For this bridge and other significant feats of civil engineering Sir Benjamin's honored with a statue. How civilized, a country that erects statues to an engineer!
We took the Forth Belle tour , above, upper left, for a turn around the Firth. In the middle of the Firth Inchcolm Abbey, lower right above, is in ruin, derelict on Inchcolm Island. Pay a small fee and the ferry will drop you off to wander picking you up later.
Royal Navy ships harbored in the Firth of Forth during WWII. In the photo above, lower left, Defensive fortifications on Inchgarvie Island are still very visible.
The Royal Mile runs from Edinburgh Castle to The Palace Of Holyrood House. If it's Scottish and for sale you'll find it on the Royal mile. The photo at upper right looks down the Royal Mile toward Holyrood House. At lower left a pipe band marches up the Royal Mile. Lower right ... you thought you'd get away without a horse picture?
Make haste when tickets for the Tattoo are up for sale. Sandy worked at his computer most of the first day of sales getting our four tickets. The Tattoo began in 1950 with eight participating groups. This year over 200,000 will attend, in person, to watch over 1000 performers from many parts of the former British Empire. This year Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada and a former colony that declared it's independence in '76, and more, performed.
The crowd at the castle gates builds long before they open for the Tattoo. Prior to opening we dined at The Amber Restaurant at the Scotch Whiskey Experience The smoothest Scotch single malt whiskey I could buy still tasted like what I think kerosene would taste like! Joyce, Sandy, Anne and I enjoyed a great dinner while the common folk jostled in place before the Castle gates. After dinner security waltz us to the head of the line ... another perk of eating at the Amber.
The Tattoo begins after dusk with a grand entrance, photo above upper left, of pipe bands marching across the drawbridge into the castle esplanade. The opening complete each band then has its' individual moment in the spotlight. Highlights included the Champion New Zealand Lochiel marching team *1 and the Norwegian King's Guards. The Singapore Police Force Band included a cultural group headed by a yellow Dragon Dancer, photo lower left. Participants join again for a massive finale while fireworks blaze above. A web search for Scottish Military Tattoo 2008 returns participant videos.
*1 Sadly the team was dissolved in 2019 after the death of their long time coach.
What We Do Best
We could've spent both weeks in Edinburgh and still not enjoyed all the restaurants on Rose Street. In the photo above, left, I'm enjoying lunch in an outdoor sunken garden while Joyce, above, right, prepares to down her haggis (is that a forced smile?) at Jamie's Scottish Evening at the Thistle Hotel.
A word, several words as a matter of fact, on the Haggis are available at this Haggis link. For those who absolutely insist on accuracy, or suffer from an undeveloped sense of whimsy, there's always this Haggis link.
We saw no better example of Britain's' love for gardens, particularly rose gardens, than the Princess Gardens located parallel to Princess Street in the heart of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Street Scenes
Upper left: Taken from the window of the Castle View B&B is the intersection of Castle and Rose. During the day Castle is a pedestrian walkway. At night barriers rise from street level opening the street to traffic. Rose, pedestrian friendly at all times, features more restaurants /pubs per linear foot than any other in the city. Sitting in front of a pub sipping a good Port Wine was the perfect way to end a day.
Upper right: Again from the B&B window: Look ! Who's that in front of liquor store? Here are two of the half dozen Elvie gracing Rose Street. The King lives!
Lower right: Taken while on a bus tour of the city is a picture of a typical block of city-center flats (homes) We saw no free-standing homes until entering the suburbs. Nondescript on the outside, the interiors have been remodeled time and time again.
Lower left: A flock of hen party revelers passes on Castle street. The parties celebrate a bride's last fling before her marriage and can last from a day to a week. Later on Debs, a hiking companion, introduced us to Hen party games ... the object of which seemed to be loosing the game and taking a drink as punishment! Participants pick a theme and dressing accordingly. This bunch favored cowboy hats and cap pistols. Hula skirts and flowered leis were also popular. Several brides wore a signboard with a letter "L" on it ... "Learner" bride