Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27th, 2011

Wednesday, April 27th

Went to Edinburgh Castle today. It was amazing! We went and walked all over the top of the castle, and leaned on a couple of the cannons. Shoot, we even took pictures of the cannons, and took pictures OVER the cannons, checked out Mons Meg, and ENORMOUS cannon.

As we were 'sploring, a very, very nice older Scotsman took a picture of the four of us girls, as a memento. Very sweet and kind of him. He chatted with us for quite a while, asked us where we were from, raised an unbelieving eyebrow when we told him we were from California. (If you look at the picture below, you'll understand his disbelief. I mean, do we look Californian to you? I ask you... where are the sunglasses? and the shorts? Ya know?)

After walking all over the battlements, we went into this place called the War Memorial that was situated inside the castle. Awesome! Unfortunately, we weren't allowed to take pictures, but I soaked in the feeling and the aura as best I could, and I'm trying to chronicle it as best I can right now. Looks like something from a story. It's an enormous hall with three adjoining rooms, one straight ahead, the others on the left and right.

Along the whole length of the halls are alcoves with high, wide sweeping ceilings. In the alcoves are stained glass windows above large, high counters. On each counter there's a huge leather-bound book, embellished with the insignia of a Scottish regiment, containing the names of all those who fell in battle.

Each book rests on a missal-like holder made of marble that is sometimes so richly engraved and carved the marble looks like petrified lace. Sometimes two books and two stands sit side by side on the same counter. Some books are thicker than others.

Regimental flags stood above the books on little jutting stone shelves, and intricate sword displays and buttressed statues added to the magnificence.

High on the walls are engraving marked directly into the stone, engravings in the shapes of shields. Each shield is painted with each regiment's insignia.

In the adjoining rooms the walls are circular, and contain no books. Instead, there's a wall-high engraving that commemorates fallen soldiers.

In the abutting room, the walls hold a large pewter triptych that lines three sides of the wall; left, center, and right. Underneath were words of a prayer that I can't remember as I sit here in the Edinburgh castle courtyard, mentally recreating the Memorial in my head. I'll wait until a little later, perhaps when I'm at home, to fully sit and map the Memorial out in more vivid detail. The biggest impression of the Memorial was that it was so solemn and still and quiet. It almost sounded like a cathedral inside, with that stillness and reverence echoing amongst its cambered ceiling. It was the most amazingly beautiful place ever!!

After the Memorial we visited the Royal Chambers of the castle. Queen Mary's chamber was a large room painted dark blue with a soft brown carpet on the floor, and huge paintings on the walls. There was a large fireplace straight ahead, and two dark brown wood-and-wicker chairs stood near it.

In the adjoining room there were three light sconces on the wall opposite a really grand fireplace. The fireplace is made of stone and grey marble, and above the marbled mantle piece is a depiction of a chained silver unicorn and a gold lion - the Scottish Insignia.

The whole palace is very grand and quiet. There was a museum that you could peruse at your leisure as well, through the entire castle. It was so much to take in, it was almost exhausting.

It really was a long, gorgeous day, but it was an awful lot of fun. There were hundreds of gift shops - well, only about four or five, really - that we popped into and explored, and many different adjacent "Military Regalia" museums that we explored. There was a POW section that we went into. It was very dark and dank,
with a musty, sickly-sweet, rotting-earth smell. There were hammocks strung up from a platform "top bunk" type structure, with unpleasant-looking squashed bedding on a long platform below the hammocks. (This POW section was still in Edinburgh castle, by the way. :-) It was also really neat, because as you went through the POW bit, there were these "shadow plays" that lit up on the wall, and if you went through the sections you got to hear a story play out, that gave you the history of the prisoners and how they came to Edinburgh in the first place. Really, very interesting. (You can see a clip of one of the shadow plays on the video here. It was pretty neat.)

After the POW section, we made our way through the castle grounds, took TONS of pictures - except for the War Memorial, which did NOT allow pictures, blister them, and the Royal Chambers, blister them too - then walked back to our flat, stopping at a place called Giulianno's for Fish and Chips. (I know, Fish and Chips from an Italian restaurant... weird!! However, the owner was a very nice Italian.) We brought the Fish and Chips home and at them.

It was amazing fun. I also bought Mom a Hieland Coo to add to her collection. I think tomorrow, if we go to Stirling Castle, I'm bringing my duffel. I just took my camera today, and it was too hard lugging my journal around in my hands the whole day.



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