Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Lowland Diary, Day 4

For the record, I am officially sick and tired of hearing about Mary, Queen of Scots. The woman is everywhere.

My legs and lower back are officially sick and tired of hills and cobblestone streets. So I spent a good deal of today's travels slightly hunched and limping.

And sitting, whenever possible.

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, local, and it's 9:15 PM now. So I's all out of whack.

But today was fun. Rode the British rail system for the first time on this trip, and let me tell you, NJ Transit should have trains so nice. Fast, clean, comfortable seats, you name it.

As I mentioned earlier, we went out to Stirling Castle, which is near the sites of the two big "Braveheart"battles.

This was a nice, big castle, with some interesting features, including a huge "great hall," and it's in the midst of some massive historical repair-and-renovate work.

It also has the museum of a Scottish regiment that's famed as "the Thin Red Line" and also the inventor of the "women and children first" order while abandoning a sinking ship.

But perhaps the coolest thing about the castle is that, as part of the restoration, they are hand-weaving replicas of the ancient tapestries that once graced the castle. The originals, oddly enough, are on display in America. But these replicas, which literally take years to reproduce, are well under way. And you can go and watch the three women work on them - like a real-life version of the three fates, in a way.

After spending most of the day at the castle, we opted on the advice of one of the guides to skip the trek to the "beheading stone," because a) no one of consequence was ever beheaded there; b) the stone is covered in graffiti; and c) the graffiti isn't even that interesting.

Instead, we stopped by Argyll's Lodging, named for one of its owners, and not for the socks.

An interesting house, including some very posh - for the time - toilets.

We also skipped the "town jail" building, deciding it seemed a bit, well, kitschy.

We did, on the other hand, walk past "Mar's Wark," which is a great name, and the "Church of the Holy Rude," which I found hysterical since "Rude" is one of my buddy's nicknames. Took a photo just for him, you know?

Then a nice little train ride back.

I should mention, we took a cab up the hill to the castle - these castles are all built high atop volcanic rock, and this one is right on the border of the Lowlands/Highlands divide. (But we walked back down.) Anyway, I mention the cab, because both my mother and I had a devil of a time with the doors (my father rode up front). It had minivan-esque sliding doors in the back, and there was a big red button on top of the handle. But do you press the red button to make the door open or close? No. You pull the trigger on the back edge of the handle.


Where was I?

Oh, yeah, on the way back. Well, we walked to and from the Edinburgh train station, and the streets continued their tradition of odd names. (First, let me point out it seems an alley is called a "close," pronounced as in "close but no cigar," not "close the door.")

Today's discovery was that "Fleshmarket Close" leads, appropriately enough, to "Cockburn Street."

Dinner was at Le Sept, a French restaurant I spotted the other night, as it's next door to Creelers.

It was excellent, maybe the best food I've had since I've been here. So good, in fact, I was (for the first time) too stuffed for dessert.

Yeah, the diet's gone all to hell. Hey, I'm on vacation.

Tomorrow could feature some serious excitement. We're off to see the Royal Yacht, Britannia, which is I think on the local body of water, which I think is called the Firth of Forth, of all things.

I've been calling it the Fourth of Fifth all week.

Plus maybe a walking tour and more.

Hopefully, better pictures, too. My camera battery nearly died, as I mentioned, so I had to be fairly judicious toward the end of the Stirling Castle experience.

On to the next part!

1 Comment:

Timothy said...

I've been past Le Sept but have never stopped in for a meal, I can't say I've tried French cuisine in any of the Edinburgh restaurants yet. On your recommendation I'll definitely make a stop in.