Saturday, July 09, 2005


Make Poverty History March What we didn't know when we scheduled ourselves to be in Edinburgh for the first weekend in July was that it would put us smack in the middle of the Make Poverty History march and G8 Alternatives protests. 225,000 people marched through Edinburgh that Saturday, so we hardly got the typical tourist experience. But it was really neat to be there for that, and fun to follow the march around town. It feels very different though, to see anti-Bush slogans and posters abroad than at home. (There were a lot of those, mixed in with all the other issues.)

Whale Bones The National Art Gallery was closed since it was on the protest route, but we did get to go to the Museum of Scotland (connected to, but not to be confused with, the Royal Museum of Scotland). This was an excellent museum, covering the entire history of Scotland from prehistory to the present. They even had a couple of Andy Goldsworthy pieces there, which made me happy.

Edinburgh Castle Edinburgh Castle has some great views of the city from up on "The Mound" of volcanic rock it's built on. Among many other things, we got to see the crown jewels of Scotland, which have a rather silly story attached to them. As I understand it, once Scotland became part of the UK they no longer needed their own crown jewels (sceptre, crown, etc.) so they locked them in a box and locked that in a room. Then they promptly got themselves all confused and started wondering if the crown jewels were really in there, and where they might be if they weren't. It was all very mysterious for about 100 years until Sir Walter Scott came along and had the brilliant idea of actually checking. Lo and behold, the crown jewels were right were they had been left, and Sir Walter got a plaque in Edinburgh Castle for it, probably along with some other recognitions. Yay for him.

The Firth of Forth On the edge of the city is Holyrood Park, which has even farther ranging views than the castle does. We went hiking out there for a few hours on Sunday morning, and went to the top of Salisbury Crags, though not Arthur's Seat. (Darn. I guess we'll just have to go back some day for that one.) Walking along sheer cliffs with the wind trying to buffet you off is an exciting sensation. On a smaller hill were the ruins of St. Andrew's Church, overlooking a small lake with swans and ducks. Very picturesque. It was nice to get out of the city for a while and into something more approaching nature, even if it was still crisscrossed with footpaths, tourists and joggers.

The short bits:
  • The Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh are lovely, though why they close at 6:45 pm when there is still a good 3 or 4 hours of daylight left is beyond me.
  • An alternative park for our dinnertime picnic (Inverleith) had a cricket game we could watch. Still no idea how cricket works, but entertaining none the less.
  • Sir Walter Scott's memorial is one of the more evil-looking constructions I've seen, though it's got some competition from a creepy black tower on the Royal Mile. Both would look at home in Mordor.
  • We saw War of the Worlds at the cinema, where I ate Revels (chocolate candies with varying centers).
  • I love shortbread.

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