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Parish Church of St. Cuthbert's with Castle in background, in evening light

Despite the two hour time change, we both got a good sleep.  We woke up to Edinburgh summer: Freezing.  The sun was poking out but the wind was swift and unrelenting.  Our efficiency suite has a small bedroom, but nicely dark and quiet, and a larger “sitting” room with quite a lot of efficiencies, so we lined up laundry and whatnot and headed out into New Town.

Monument to Sir Walter Scott. (Sir Walter who?)

The old walled city, tenements, pre-sewerage, is ludicrously touristy, every second shop kilts, tartans, whiskey, haggis and, yes, you can’t go into a tourist district without a fudge shop.  We opted for a place in New Town, predominantly Georgian, a little less tat, a little less tourist appeal.

Princes Street Gardens looking towards the National Gallery

After coffee, some orientation, and a stroll around Princes Gardens, we met up with a walking tour group.  For about two hours he took us through most of old town, described the filth of medieval Edinburgh, the soot, grime, vaults people lived in, the shit on the streets, the law that was passed to prevent bedpans being emptied before 10 p.m. when all hell broke loose and, God forbid you were leaving a pub at closing, and got shitfaced.

He talked about why the wall was built (to prevent an attack from Henry VIII who in fact never attacked), the old parliament, the various attacks on the castle, how when England and Scotland did reconcile the wealthy saw no reason to remain in squalor, and so New Town was built to accommodate.  And, yes, we had to venture into Harry Potter and what inspired J K Rowling.

Lunch looking toward the castle; stands are being assembled for the military tattoo in August

It was past noon after the tour, so we took a decently Scottish lunch at a place called Outsider.  Then we walked the Royal Mile on our own, navigating the hordes, past Holyroodhouse, into New Town, and past the many private gardens and inaccessible parks. In contrast to London, Edinburgh has not had the soot and filth of centuries past sandblasted off its buildings and looks a fine example of coal heat.

Palace of Holyroodhouse, the seat of the Queen she never sits on

Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, an inspiration to J K Rowling, so they say…
The Scottish Parliament, no comment, which sits next to the rather ominous Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park

For dinner we went to an upmarket local place called Grazing where for fifty quid they do a refined tasting menu.  We were pleasantly surprised to see squab was not on the menu.

Mackeral with apple slaw and gooseberry jam; lamb fillet, neck, jus, and delectable smashed pea curry tart; elaborate version of a donut with raspberry jam centre

The sun came out late day and not unlike YVR, it was broad daylight well into evening; the parish church of St. Cuthbert (picture at top), with the castle behind, looked positively idyllic.

The author of Here Hare has traveled to over 45 countries on six continents, and has lived in Canada, the UK and Australia.

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