On our third day of the honeymoon, it was time to leave Edinburgh and explore the rest of Scotland. We spent the morning making our goodbyes by checking out the Museum of Edinburgh. (In large part, so we could say hello to the Grayfriars Bobby’s bowl and collar). We finished walking the Royal Mile to see the palace of Holyrood at the very end (and the interesting architecture of the Parliament). Holyrood is where Mary Queen of Scots saw her secretary get murdered…
We wandered up to one of the hills overlooking Edinburgh for the Nelson monument. My husband is a big Horatio Nelson fan and is committed to going to every single one in the UK. It’s going to take a while. This was a tower that you could ascend and get a nice view of Edinburgh. Historically, they used to drop a ball from the top of the column at 1 o’clock so that people knew what time it was (or at least once a day). However, if it’s foggy in the city, that technique didn’t really work so they moved to a cannon-shot at 1 each day.
Then it was time to pick up the car at the train station. We decided to go with Eurocar, which will be the last time. We didn’t realize that we were required to pick the car up at a certain time (We thought it was like a hotel, any time after X o’clock). We got there to find that they had rented out our car (pre-paid of course). The models above and below were gone so there was only a car three levels up. After arguing for a while about upgrade fees, we ended up compromising on insurance. But we did get a GPS (for better or for worse).
Then we were off…it was a little tricky/nerve-wracking to get out of the center of Edinburgh but we managed. Our first night out of the city was in Stirling. We were there for Stirling Castle. We went directly there. After a decent lunch of chicken stuffed with haggis, we took a mini-tour of the castle with one of the docents. He talked about how this castle too was burned to the ground after Robert the Bruce captured it!
We also got to see the infamous Great Hall that had very controversial reconstruction. There’s a whole podcast on 99% Invisible that just came out a few weeks ago on it: http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-great-restoration/
Basically, when you redo a work of art or building, when do you reconstruct it to? When it was first created? What people see it as? For the Great Hall, they decided to redo it in a peach (or yellow) color that is very striking compared to the other gray/brown structures nearby. The color was from the original construction (or something) of the Great Hall. A lot of people really disliked it. But being there, I can see that the peach color was found in bits and pieces on the other buildings so it’s not that out-of-the-way. And it’s more peach than yellow.
There was also a wedding being set up in the Great Hall. Can you imagine having your wedding at Stirling Castle? So cool! We snuck a peek in the chapel where the violinist was setting up. Then there was the main castle buildings that had beautiful bright rooms. One had a series of tapestries recently made by local groups depicting a unicorn hunt. Apparently, these tapestries (and their originals) are the only unicorn tapestries in addition to the famous ones at Cluny. Quite beautiful! There was one room that we could not go into because there was a cocktail party for the wedding. Sounds of Celtic music came out. That was the room that I most wanted to go in!
We also saw a reconstruction of the wooden carvings on the ceiling. There were these medallions of people carved from wood that showed a lot of different types of people. Pretty neat. The National Scotland Museum had some of the originals.
Stirling was pretty neat. We decided to check into our Bed and Breakfast, Castlecroft, which was quite close to the castle. What a lovely place! Our hostess showed us around, recommended some place to go, and then made tea for us. Absolutely perfect! We wandered into town after refreshing ourselves with tea and biscuits. We walked along a path next to pastures where there were beautiful hairy cows. Then we took the path up into the little forest below the castle and found some pretty amazing wooden sculptures, including a beheading. Very cool but very strange!
At the top of the hill, we found a lovely cemetery with strange monuments (and views of the castle nearby). After dinner, we were planning on going on a ghost tour but discovered it was sold out! We had a nice evening walk home to our B&B through the former gardens of the king and queen. I recommend using flashlights!
That’s all for now!