28 January, 2013

Today started with the drive out of Newcastle as we headed for Edingburgh.  Scotland at last!  The countryside we drove through was just amazing.  There was still quite a bit of snow on the ground in some places so it made for a pleasant journey.  I couldn't take pictures of everything or we would never have made it to Edinburgh at all.  We did take a small detour to see the ancient seat of Northumbria, Bamburgh Castle.  Apparently Northumbria has quite a history of fighting with their Sottish neighbors to the north.  Northumbria has the highest number of strongholds and castles than any other part of England.

Situated on the North Sea, Bamburgh Castle looks pretty imposing from any angle.

This castle has been used in several film, most recently Robin Hood with Russell Crowe.  It was just amazingly beautiful.

On to Scotland!
 We're all pretty tired after such a long day of driving so we didn't do too much this afternoon.  We took a tour of Mary King's Close.  A close is a narrow street or alley that used to have houses and shops off of it.  This particular one was sealed up and built over the original houses. Now there is a tour that takes you down into various rooms where people, including plague victims would have lived.  They didn't allow photos, but here's one of the street itself.  Yes it was that steep.

Then it was time for a little walking.  Emily took me to see the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote most of the first Harry Potter book.
Nearby is a fantastic little kirk and kirkyard (graveyard) called Grey Friars, where she would wander.  Clearly there was some inspiration going on as there is a nearby boy's school and one of the graves is for Tom Riddle.
The graveyard has a wonderful collection of graves, some of which date back to 1561.  All shapes and sizes.  It's also reported to be haunted.  The location is pretty cool too, surrounded by apartment buildings and with a terrific view of the city.

The one that looks like a Greek temple is the supposedly haunted one.  It's the burial place of "Bloody" George mackenzie who was laid to rest in 1691.  There are ghost tours of the graveyard and the nearby prison, but I'm not sure I'll have time to go on any.  However the sign on the shop gave me a bit of a laugh.  Also there is a lovely tale about a loyal dog who waited on his owner's grave for 18 years until the dog died as well.  It's thought now to be something made up by the groundsmen, but it's an enduring legend.  There's a pub right next to the entrance to Grey Friars that bears the name of the dog, Bobby.

 I'm going to leave you with just a few shots of the handsome, if rainy streets of Edinburgh.  I'm on my own tomorrow as I've decided not to go to Glasgow and will have a bit more time here. Oh and for those of you wondering what the giant buildings are looming over the whole city.... that's Edinburgh Castle.  You'll find out more about that tomorrow when I visit.  In the meantime...Enjoy!

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