So we are a little naive. We had never heard about the festivals in Edinburgh and we sure hadn't known there would be some while we were in town. To be honest, this time we didn't even have a guide book with us and came totally unexpecting.
True, the receptionist had mentioned something about festivals when we checked in at the hotel, but even then we didn't ask her what she meant.
We were soon to discover the terrible truth .....
It started harmless enough. After a nice breakfast we started towards the city. Uphill. I hadn't known I would have to walk the Streets of San Francisco! So I took a minute for a photo. Don't ask me which church it is, but it is somewhere between our hotel and city center.
When we reached Prince's Street we were overwhelmed by the beauty of it. The construction work, that is. Edinburgh is building up a tram network, we've been told and we were lucky to take a little part in it. Ah, the noise! Looking for a way to cross to where you want to go! That's adventure!
Nah, really it was ok, we found our way pretty fast and crossed over to find ourselves standing in front of the National Gallery. We marked that for the way back because we thought it smarter to go and see the castle first before it got too crowded. See, not that naive after all ;-)
Here we found the first signs of the Fringe. Sellers were setting up their booths along the way. We made a short stop to look down into the beautiful park. No, I won't make the same mistake again, Kitty. Just see that Scottish lawn! ;-)
This sculpture was made for blind people. Here they can feel Edinburgh. I wonder if anyone really ever does it.
And up the stairs we went, by the Royal Bank of Scotland, uphill, my ankles starting to hurt from walking on cobblestone, falling back behind the tall guy and then it happened. We walked against a wall of people. Or so it seemed. Little did we know. Here we saw the first performers of the festival getting prepared for the day, but we had a goal and that was the castle. When we came to it, we were surprised about the stands set up for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Another part of festival we had never heard about. Travelling sure teaches you stuff you never expected - and sometimes you never wanted to ;-)
Once through the gate the first action required was for somebody to get the tickets. Said somebody got into the queue with remarkable calmness while I checked the first views down into town and up the the castle walls.
We had been lucky, just behind us a wave of people flooded the gate and the queue tripled in no time. Just as I had got myself a seat on a bench that wasn't standing in bright sun, the tall guy came back with the tickets and we entered Edinburgh Castle *insert drum roll here*
I can't tell you much about the castle. We walked through the buildings in a line of tourists which made it a little hard to stop and read some of the information put up on the walls, but I enjoyed the feeling of history. That always happens to me when I am inside an old building. I would like to touch the walls, close my eyes and feel the stories this building has to tell me, but you rarely have a chance to do that with so many people around you.
So we went back outside after a while, got us a bottle of water (and a bottle of malt whiskey liqueur for me, yes, I know it was probably too expensive, but I couldn't help myself after tasting it and after all it came with a pocket bottle!! I know, I know, I am such a tourist *hanging head down*) - it was really hot now - and enjoyed some more great more views of the town.
What I really liked, although you don't see much on the picture really, was the little cemetery for soldiers' dogs. Don't say soldiers can't get mushy.
When a young man came by, I had to follow him, tired feet or not. I was irresistibly drawn towards him - for his kilt. My tourist's instincts welled up inside me like boiling soup and fogged my brain, so I joined the zombie line of others following him. No, you can't compare it with the Pied Piper of Hamelin, he hadn't started to play his bagpipes yet.
You wouldn't think how hard it was to take this picture of him. His picture must be all around the world by now. Japanese, Indians, Italians, Germans, English, Americans - he has been photographed together with all of them, some pointing at him, some showing the victory sign, one lady trying to snuggle up to him while he was playing, he posed with babies, toddlers (I loved the one dancing to his tune, she was too cute), giggly teenagers, even gigglier older women - hm, thinking about it, I didn't notice any guy getting a picture taken together with him.
There was one second he was free of women, though. Here is the proof for it.
Now we made a big mistake and followed the sign saying "crown jewels". We already knew they would not quite compare to the English ones, so we thought it wouldn't take that long. Hahahaaaahahaaaa! Yes, I am laughing madly. We were trapped, I tell you, trapped! There was a guided tour ahead of us and they made a stop as soon as it was impossible for us to get back out. It might have been easier if the elderly Indian gentleman hadn't kicked me several times with his cane to get ahead of me and if the Texan lady behind me had stopped complaining about the rude behavior of people that hold up everybody else. Of course she was right, but she didn't change a thing. I remember vaguely hearing the guide speaking in a foreign tongue and people shoving each other. Then there it was, 30 seconds of sparkle. I remember a necklace that looked nice and there was, wait, let me think, a ring. And a crown. I think. There must have been a crown, right? After all they were the crown jewels. What I remember very well were two German guys and my Indian friend starting to photograph. There had been, well, like three signs forbidding that, even one before you even got into the room. Reading? Nah, never!
After we had escaped this hell of sweat - had I mentioned it was hot? I can assure you that added to the atmosphere of this queue - we decided we had had enough castle for one day.
Out we came and the area had changed. People, masses of people. While we had been fighting for our right to see a crown, outside the festival had started. Fire-eaters, singers, mimes, name it, you got it. And of course the people with the flyers. Plays, songs, cabaret, again, name it, you got it. They were all on my side which made the tall guy grin. In the end I had a handful of flyers, to visit all of these events I would have needed a year, I guess!
We made it to National Gallery without greater damage, wasn't easy, I tell you. We never go to museums at home (don't ask me for the reason, I don't know), but we love museums elsewhere. In London my favorite painting is The execution of Lady Jane Grey. It just speaks to me. Here I could hardly tear myself off Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. I had to go back a few times. The way she looks seems to tell me she knows more than you even can imagine. As the painting was to big to get it off the wall, I thought I'd settle for the postcard. Sold out, grrrrrr!
The way home was long and hard. We had been walking and standing for hours (with just a little Mexican lunch in between ;-)) and I wasn't sure if I would make it back alive. I think I must have looked like an old arthritic dog, head hanging down (I had already made the tall guy carry my bag with the bottle), shuffling along and saying ouch every other minute. Ok, dogs rarely say ouch, but you get the picture. At the hotel I collapsed on the bed and the tall guy in one chair, putting his feet up on another one. We had just come back in time for our favorite antiques' auction show Flog It! And I even managed to finish a pendant because I had known something like that would happen ;-)
Stay tuned if you love flowers, tomorrow will be colorful!