Friday, June 4:  Edinburgh Castle

Hopped the bus into town, and walked up the now-familiar stretch of the Royal Mile to the castle. (Photo 187) Lots of Scottish history revolves around this location, and I still don’t have the story with Mary, Queen of Scots straight in my head. We saw the Crown Jewels of Scotland, alongside the Stone of Scone (or is the Stone of Destiny?), absent the English Coronation chair. There were various chapels, royal apartments and guns. Two guns of note were Mons Meg, a 15th century siege gun that could send a 330 pound stone for a two mile ride. (Photo 191) And the more modern 1 PM Gun was sounded right at 1:00 PM, just to make sure everybody in Edinburgh has the correct time, and to delight the assembled throng of tourists.

We also visited the well done Scottish National War Museum and watched a wedding party traipse around the grounds after a ceremony in St. Margaret’s Chapel (total seating capacity: 20), the oldest building in Scotland. Almost forgot to mention, Rick tipped us to be sure to visit the public toilets, which consistently win the British “Loo of the Year” Award. After taking photos, and admiring the award display, I asked the fellow watering the plants if he was responsible for all the awards. With great modesty, he allowed, “Well, yes, but for just the past two and a half years.” Pat and the boys conducted an even closer inspection.

That brought us to about 1:30 PM, and fatigue had set in, so we returned home for some R&R. Pat watched the French Open, the boys did homework and I tried to nap. David and I hiked out to an Internet cafe, where I plugged in effortlessly and uploaded 3 weeks worth of installments to the WWW site. David tinkered at another station for an hour, and we got out for 2 total. Prior to dinner, we bused back into town and walked the lower half of the Royal Mile, which we haven’t seen yet. At the bottom, work continues on the new Scottish Parliament Building -- hard to tell if I liked the looks of it. Across the street, Holyrood Palace sat behind locked gates.

Dinner was Italian along the Royal Mile, and I opted for the spaghetti carbonara. Not bad, but not the equal of France’s. This makes the fourth (real) country where I’ve had this dish. Maybe I’ll be able to find it in Wales?