About Me

I am a 45 year husband and dad, currently adjusting to life back in the United States after living in Italy for a little over two years. I love spending time with my family, cycling, model railroading, mosaics and watching TV and movies.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dynamic Earth and Edinburgh Castle

Today started with another Scottish breakfast.  I don't know how they do it.  I'm a big guy, but I can't eat a breakfast like that everyday.  I have noticed that the Scottish seem to be a hearty, stocky nation.  

After breakfast we caught a bus into the city center.  

Our Guest House for two nights

We exited the bus on the Royal Mile and walked the bottom half.  The Mile is filled with shops, restaurants, and bars.  

Typical look of a shop and restaurant on the Royal Mile

Canongate Church

Our first destination of the day was Dynamic Earth.  This museum tells the story of our planet with a time travel theme, short films on stars, tectonic plates and ice caps, rain forests and more.  

Dynamic Earth expo

I always love an adventurous leading lady!

Our next stop was the Queen's Gallery, located in front of the palace.  Katrina went inside to enjoy a photography exhibit of the Royal photographer.  Brandon and I hung outside and people watched.  

Palace of Holyroodhouse

We caught the City Sightseeing bus and rode it up to Edinburgh Castle.  Edinburgh Castle is the birthplace of the city 1,300 years ago.  The castle has been both a fort and a royal residence since the 11th century, although most of the buildings we see today are from its more recent use as a military garrison.  

Royal Guard at Edinburgh Castle

One of several gates visitors must pass before reaching the castle

View of Edinburgh

The Scottish National War Memorial.  Dedicated to the 207,800 Scottish soldiers who have died in the line of duty since World War I.  

We followed a short free tour led by this very charismatic Scot.  He was great and very interesting.

Great hall inside the Royal Palace.  

Beautiful stained glass in the Great Hall

The ceiling of the Great Hall is made just like the hull of a ship, by ship builders.  It is 100% wood - no nails, just wood joints.  

Very large fireplace in the Great Hall

Mary Queen of Scots.  She gave birth to James VI of Scotland, who later became King James I of England.

These cannons line the perimeter walls of the castle.  An interesting fact is that they are not original.  The Queen of England visited Edinburgh Castle many years ago and noticed that there weren't any cannons left for display.  So, she ordered cannons to be placed on display, but these are the wrong type of cannons.  These cannons are for on board ships, not castles.  I guess no one was brave enough to point out the mistake to the Queen.

Changing of the guard at the National War Memorial

Another view of Edinburgh

Dog cemetery, used since Queen Victoria's time as a burial place for regimental mascots and officer's dogs.

Mons Meg, a huge 15th century siege canon that fired 330 lb stones nearly two miles.  It was a gift from the Belgians, who shared a common enemy with the Scots - England - and were eager to arm Scotland.  

A modern canon is fired daily at 1pm, a tradition that gives ships in the bay something to set their navigational devices by.  The frugal Scots don't fire it at high noon because that would cost 11 extra rounds a day!

Stained glass windows inside St Margaret's Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh is dedicated to Queen Margaret.  It was built in 1130 in the Romanesque style.  

Another view of Edinburgh Castle

William Wallace, the brave hearted defender of Scotland

Brandon, the brave hearted defender of our family.  

This evening we visited the home of Katrina's friend Rachel, whom she met at her art retreat in England last month.  We had a great time visiting, eating, and hanging out.  

Tomorrow we will visit the Botanical Gardens before catching an early evening train to Glasgow.  

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