Posted by: ilanasmith | January 30, 2007

Auld Reekie and the Wee Beastie

After New Year, I ditched Mark and headed off to Scotland.
Load any city up with impressive buildings and it will end up looking sharp.  Put those buildings up on hills so they loom over you, and it’s stunning.  Edinburgh certainly is.
I stayed right on the Royal Mile, and had fun traipsing up and down it.  At one end, unmistakable and brutish, is Edinburgh Castle, lumbering over the landscape.  At the other is the Palace of Holyroodhouse, delicate and pretty, for all its bloody past.  Between it, sites and history, and according to my rather convincing ghost-tour guide, more than a few spirits.  Not that I believed him, of course.  Really, I just avoided the rear of the group because Edinburgh got a bit cool in the dark winter evening.  Especially in ‘the most haunted place in Britain’.  Chilly, there.
I was intrigued to learn that neither the Castle or the Palace are purely tourist attractions – they’re both working buildings.  Holyroodhouse is an official residence of the Queen, so all the literature points out that they’ll up and close it to tourists whenever Lizzy feels like stopping on by.  And Edinburgh Castle is home to the Royal Scots Regiment, as evidenced by the dude showing up to work just as the castle was closing, decked out in the Scots equivalent of BDUs, which is kilt-free and comes with jaunty beret.
From Edinburgh, I bussed up to Inverness.  Despite much searching, I failed to see any shaggy red Highland cattle, nor did my circumnavigation of Loch Ness yield even more exciting wildlife.  I also trotted out to to the Culloden battlefield.  One of my favourite books is set during the Second Jacobite Rising, so I wanted to see the site of the end of the Highland way of life.  The place is bleak and the clan stones over the mass graves are particularly powerful.
The signs for the new visitor centre promise "a complicated story told in a balanced way".  I suspect that the English may have complained about the spin on the previous version. Those Scots can hold a grudge.
Photos over there.


    like the ‘when Lizzy feels like stopping by’ bit.  cute

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