Its people are feisty, opinionated and fiercely loyal. The country is wild, untamed and beautiful. The bad climate adds an edge to both. Buoyed by the continued irritant of England on its doorstep, Scotland has survived encroachment, brass-monkey weather and the annual influx of stand-up comedians arriving for the Edinburgh Festival. But its people have a rock-solid identity and sense of self. On top of that, the Scots haven’t eaten their waterways and forests bare. Scotland’s lamb, beef, venison, trout and salmon are highly prized, and game birds such as grouse and pheasant abound. Wash all this down with a shot or two of the world’s best whisky and you’ll be warming very quickly to the Scottish way of life. Definitely schedule a visit to the land that gave us haggis, kilts and the Highlander!
Edinburgh sticks shockingly up-to-the-nanosecond dance clubs in 15th-century tenement buildings and body-stockinged firebreathers outside Georgian mansions: This is a city that knows how to blend modern and medieval. Its superb architecture ranges from ancient churches to monumental Victorian masterpieces – all dominated by a castle on a precipitous crag in the city’s heart. And pick any street to stroll – you’ll be wowed by sudden vistas of rugged summits, memorial-laden hills and erstwhile-outlying villages that inch ever closer to the vibrant city center. A definite must-visit for anyone looking to visit Scotland!
Below are some snap shots including a view of the city, Princess street, bagpipes and kilts, the Cathedral on Royal Mile and a kilt factory.
Edinburgh Castle dominates the city center, sitting astride the core of an extinct volcano, its three sides scoured almost vertical by glacial action. Although the castle looks impregnable, it often changed hands between the Scots and English throughout the centuries. By the mid-18th century, however, the castle looked much as it does today. Partly in thanks to Sir Walter Scott, in the 19th century it began to recover its importance as a Scottish symbol.
We entered from the Esplanade, a parade ground where the changing of the guard occurs on the hour. Sights within the castle proper include Mills Mount Battery, where a gun salute takes place on weekdays; St. Margaret’s Chapel, the oldest building in Edinburgh; the Palace, built between the 15th and 16th centuries; and the Scottish United Services Museum, which houses displays on the history of Scottish regiments.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
Founded as a monastery in 1128, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh is the Queen’s official residence in Scotland. Situated at the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is closely associated with Scotland’s turbulent past, including Mary, Queen of Scots, who lived here between 1561 and 1567. Successive kings and queens have made the Palace of Holyroodhouse the premier royal residence in Scotland.
Today, the Palace is the setting for State ceremonies and official entertaining. We visited the Royal Apartments which were decorated with magnificent works of art from the Royal Collection.
If you have any interest in golf, a visit to Scotland is not completed without a visit to St. Andrews.
A small quaint town that came into being around 1144, it prides itself as establishing the first university in Scotland in 1411 and creating the game of golf in 1552. I suggest you go visit and play a few rounds of golf!!
Stirling, another quaint town to the west of Edinburgh and north of Glasgow, is the home of the Wallace Monument. One of the best vantage points from which to view Stirling is the top of the national Wallace Monument, a prominent Victorian tower which stands above the river on a rocky crag and catches the eye for miles around. In the 1850’s there was a tide of nationalism that swept across the globe. One of the outcomes was the erection of the National Wallace Monument in memory of a great Scottish hero. The original structure was completed in 1869 with an addition to the building at a later date. This addition was the “Hall of Heroes” in which you can find marble sculptures of other Scottish heroes as well as information concerning such greats as Robert the Bruce, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and David Livingston.
I’ve included pictures of the Wallace Monument, Wallace’s legendary sword, the Wallace Monument and a memorial sculpted by a diehard braveheart fan.