Our European Trip - 2005 travel blog

Barge entering "Wheel"

Wheel Revolving, taking barge up

Barge at the top

Barge on the upper canal

Fringe performance on the Royal Mile

John Knox's House

St. Gile's Cathedral

Our home?

Note the Gaelic!

Side of the new Parliament Building

Another view of the Parliament

Hollyrood Palace

Staff Wanted - is this their uniform, perhaps?

Edinburgh from near the Castle

Sign on Steps from Grassmarket

The steps are no longer green! Castle from the back

Renovated Grassmarket

Woke at 2 am and read till it was time to get up. Iain went to work and Nan and I went to the Falkirk Wheel. This was Falkirk's Millennium Project. About 200 years ago two canals were cut through Central Scotland linking the Clyde River in the west with the Forth in the East. The two canals met, but due to the elevation difference, it took 15 locks to raise the barges from one canal to the other. The Falkirk Wheel is an ingenious device which lifts the barges from the lower to the higher canal, while dropping one from the higher to the lower canal.

We then went into Edinburgh and went to the Royal Mile which runs from Edinburgh Castle down to Holyrood Palace, the Queen's official residence in Scotland. The street, or more correctly, series of streets, is lined with old buildings, including John Knox's house and St. Giles Cathedral where he delivered some of his fieriest sermons. We wandered down this living historical monument, alive with performances from the Edinburgh Fringe, which unlike Edmonton's is an adjunct to the official Edinburgh International Arts Festival. The place was crowded with people enjoying both the performances and the welcome sunshine.

We stopped at the new Scottish Parliament building, which while impressive in its own right, is, architecturally incongruous with the surrounding buildings which predate it by several hundred years. We went through the building and Nan was anxious to see the reception desk which was reputed to have cost about 80,000 GBPounds - $175,000 Can. Upon seeing it, she remarked that Ikea could have supplied better at a better price. This did not stop us having lunch in the restaurant there.

Neither of us had toured Holyrood Palace before, so we decided to so. The building dates from the 1300s with a significant renovation about 1620 after Oliver Cromwell had sacked it. It is an impressive place, and one could not help but wonder if the Scottish Parliament building would stand the same test of time. The tour was conducted by audio devices, using, I assume, MP3 technology to guide you through the building. The sound was crystal-clear and when accompanied by music, gave the impressing of being in the middle of the band or orchestra. Altogether, a well-worthwhile few hours.

We retraced our steps up the Royal Mile to the Castle, but could not get the views we expected due to the bleachers set up for the Tattoo. We went round the back of the Castle to the Grassmarket where there has been extensive rehabilitation. The last time I remember being their, a couple of eggs flew out of a window overhead and landed in the sidewalk, narrowly missing Christine and I, all accompanied by raised voices and domestic discord. Such a scene seemed remote today where the area has been reestablished with many multinational restaurants and sidewalk cafes.

We cut back through Princess Street Gardens, enjoying an ice cream on the way and eventually crossing the Royal Mile and back to the car. We drove up and round Arthur's Seat, a commanding crag above Edinburgh before returning to Bo'ness. The lack of sleep and long walk proved to much and I fell asleep in the car on the way there - fortunately, I was not driving.

Tomorrow, on to Perth and reuniting with Christine who has spent the last 10 days staying with her brother and spending time with her 95-year-old Dad who still lives on his own, and whose major impairments are deafness and an inability to slow down which restricts his ability to walk far.

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