London/Edinburgh Day 3 – Afternoon – Exploring Edinburgh’s streets
Arrival in Edinburgh entailed me trying to contact my friend I was meeting there, as she had our rental car and was parked somewhere near Waverley Station on Market Street. Of course, I started walking up from the station, only to realize that I was on East Market Street. I enjoy walking in the wrong direction.
She rang my mobile and said, “Just look for my red hair!”
Now, that works really well in Hong Kong. Red hair sticks out against the sea of mostly dark hair.
However, my response was, “That doesn’t work here! We’re in Scotland!”
It is a miracle we managed to find each other in the crowd of cars, with a policeman hunting for illegally parked vehicles hot on our heels.
Edinburgh – there was so much beautiful in this compact medieval city. So much beauty, darkness, and history.
The day had turned partly cloudy, shading the sun from the dark buildings and creating a gloomy sort of spectacle of the city. Light and dark, sun and shadows played together in the closes off the main streets. We wandered the high street and Royal Mile from Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle, popping in to the darkened closes and seeing the light at the end of them.
A wander up and down the Royal Mile revealed little jewels of buildings – and the silence of graveyards overgrown with moss with names we once knew as important people. The most famous of all, perhaps, is the adorable Greyfriars Bobby, a little terrier dog with a big heart who sat guard at his master’s grave for near fourteen years. He was commemorated with a statue outside the Greyfriars Pub near Greyfriars Kirkyard – the very haunted graveyard where restless spirits supposedly knock on mausoleum doors and very real grave robbers used to dig up freshly dead bodies for medical studies at the university.
Ah, Burke and Hare, though, made a literal killing from people they got rid of. Whilst the fresher graves were protected increasingly by night watchmen (also known as “the graveyard shift”) in cemeteries and thick iron grates over graves (known as mortsafes), Burke and Hare decided to up it a notch and dispose of shiftless people who came into Hare’s house to lodge. It was an incredibly creepy story to hear about, but if this piques your interest, Aaron Mahnke did a great episode of Lore about it back in September, I think, called “Supply and Demand.”
On the bright(er) side of things, I was intrigued by the multitudinous presence of rent-a-kilt shops and tartan suppliers. A variety of Italian restaurants dotted the high street as well, so that seemed like a good opportunity for dinner since we were sure to be having a lot of pub dinners from then on out.
If there is ever such a thing as too much “medieval”, then a walk around the park near the modern Scottish Parliament building is in order. The Parliament building looked quite like it belonged to the hillside with its natural architecture. Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags looked on from their vantage point, and nothing was more beautiful than to watch the sunset color the skies above it.
The first afternoon in Edinburgh was enough to get our bearings around the old town part of the city, but the next day we planned on catching the hop-on, hop-off tour bus to help see more of the city.